Once there was a ship that went down in the English Channel leaving a baby girl named Sophie floating in a cello case. It was generally assumed that the child’s mother was drowned, and so a kindly gentleman named Charles takes Sophie in and raises her. Later, however, his eccentricities lead the authorities to question the suitability of the arrangement. Afraid of being placed in an orphanage, twelve-year-old Sophie flees with Charles to Paris–where a clue hidden in the cello case may point to her mother’s identity and prove that she is in fact alive.
While Charles explores the more traditional channels for finding a missing person, Sophie explores the rooftops of Paris. She meets Matteo, a boy who claims that the roof of her hotel is his territory. Matteo shows Sophie the ropes for how to scramble across the skyline at a breakneck speed. He introduces her to roasted rat, more rooftopper friends, and a chance to find the one person who matters to her the most.
This story was whimsical and interesting although it lacked some cohesiveness in the plot. The descriptions of the rooftops of Paris were superb, but the dangerous characters who threaten Matteo’s existence needed a little more explanation. I always enjoy having foreign words peppered throughout books, and all of the little French phrases sprinkled through the chapters helped set the atmosphere. As I’m sure many before me have remarked, the ending of the story is startlingly abrupt. There’s no denouement to speak of. In fact, if I were to leave off a concluding sentence to this review, you might feel the same sense of incompleteness that I felt after finishing the book.
“Never ignore a possible!”
I just recently read this as well and thoroughly enjoyed it, even the abrupt ending. I promptly went out and borrowed a couple more of her books and discovered they all seem written on the same formula of quirky, slightly ragged girl on a mother-search. As much as I enjoyed Rooftoppers, the others have been very disappointing.