"A question mark is half a heart"

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"A question mark is half a heart"
"A question mark is half a heart"

A call from childhood. A journey to yourself. A lesson about love

Sofia Lundberg worked as a journalist and magazine editor. Her debut novel " The Red Notebook" became a worldwide sensation. Critics have praised Lundberg's ability to take readers on a journey through time and space, love and loss, and have identified the writer as a bright new star in Scandinavian literature.

The novel is quickly gaining fans in Bulgaria as well, and in October, IC "Hermes" will delight all of them with a second book by the Swedish writer - " Question is half a heart".

About the book

“You remain a big mystery to us and to yourself. Interrogative. The question mark is nothing more than half hearted. Have you thought about that? You can't love someone whose heart is shrouded in secrets.”

From The Question Mark Is Half a Heart


As a child, Elin lived on the Swedish island of Gotland. Her home is just a few minutes non-stop run from the beach. She helps her mother with the housework and taking care of her younger brothers. Her best friend is Fredrik, with whom they like to watch the night sky. Their childhood is not easy, but they find solace in the wonders of nature. Until one day something terrible happens…

Today, Elin is a world-renowned photographer and lives in Manhattan. Her husband is a successful businessman and her daughter studies at a prestigious dance school. But Elin seems to live half-heartedly. She has never been able to erase the memories of childhood from her mind. Neither the good nor the bad.

An unexpected gift will crack the thin ice on which Elin barely balances. After so many years of silence, Fredrik has named a star after her.


A book that is impossible to put down until the last page. – Grazia magazine, Germany

Question Is Half a Heart fills the senses, transporting the reader from New York to Sweden - a great way to travel in today's times. – Myself, Germany

If you are looking for an engaging novel that will provoke all kinds of emotions and enchant your heart, this is your book. – The Little Book Corner, Sweden

Sofia Lundberg to her Bulgarian readers

Dear Bulgarian readers, I want to thank everyone who read and shared my novel The Red Notebook. Now it's time for my second book to be published in Bulgarian.

In Question Is Half a Heart, you will meet Elin who wants to be successful and loved. She is a famous photographer, married, with a talented daughter. But secrets from the past prevent her from being completely frank and sincere with her loved ones. One day, a surprising letter sends her on a journey back in time. Elin is forced to face her demons.

Sometimes secrets can damage our relationships and prevent us from getting closer to others. Sometimes it's impossible to love with all your heart when it's filled with secrets and long-unanswered questions.

I hope you enjoy reading this book!

With love, Sofia Lundberg

I like to write about stories from life, about true destinies

Interview with Sofia Lundberg

Bulgarian readers already know you with "The Red Notebook", and soon they will be able to read "The question mark is half a heart". Can you tell us a bit more about the two books – do they have similar themes?

The idea for The Red Notebook was born when I discovered my great-aunt Doris's address book after she passed away. It was full of names I didn't know. Most of them were scratched out and the word "dead" was written next to them. It made me really sad because I realized how horrible it is to watch your friends go one after the other. This incident stayed in my mind for a long time and eventually inspired me to write The Red Notebook.

Question Is Half a Heart is the fruit of my interest in how childhood events affect our lives as adults and how secrets and shame can shape us as individuals. I think there are many people like Elin among us - poor children who are struggling to rise up, and with that to be loved.

I like to write about real life stories from the perspective of time. To explore how different events at different stages of life can shape and influence people. We are all children at heart and our reactions are dictated by our childhood experiences.

The title "The question mark is half a heart" is very interesting. How did you choose it?

Actually, it came to me when I was flipping through the pages of The Red Notebook one evening. I stopped at the last one, where I ask the question: "Have you really loved?" I thought about my own life and drew a question mark on the paper. And suddenly I noticed that it was half a heart. I wrote down the title and began to think about how the secrets we keep in our hearts can prevent us from giving ourselves fully to love.

Your heroines travel the world. Do you like to travel yourself? And did any of your travels take you to Bulgaria?

I really love to travel and have traveled all over the world. First as a model - my first job when I was very young. And then as a journalist. I have never been to Bulgaria, but I have always wanted to visit since I learned the name of your capital as a child. I was amazed that I had the same name. I hope to have the chance to visit the country one day.

Your books have already been published in over 30 countries. How does it make you feel to have your characters speak in so many different languages?

It feels great and I am grateful to all my readers. Especially when their reactions reach me. They made me realize that we are all the same and that the world is full of loving wise people.

Where do you get inspiration for your novels?

I'm one of those people who like to be outside. I enjoy being in nature, in the forest, by the sea, in the mountains. I strive to always find beauty and harmony around me. Watching something beautiful is a wonderful experience in itself.

Also, I read a lot and enjoy movies, theater productions and exhibitions.

In both books you touch on the themes of second chances, unrequited love, secrets from the past, family relationships, attitudes and relationships with elders. Why was it important for you to write about these issues?

I think I'm constantly trying to heal my characters. I feel their pain and I really want them to stop suffering and be happy. I'm the same in real life. When my loved one is in pain, I am in pain too.

These themes are present in all my novels. I like to write about stories from life, about real destinies. Love is vital, without empathy the world will not survive.

Your books are full of warmth, messages of love and hope. Where do you find hope yourself in these days?

In love. In beauty. They are everywhere if we open our eyes and look for them. We are going through difficult times right now, but I believe that their end will come. This too shall pass. This thought gives me hope and strength.

Excerpt from "Question is Half a Heart"

New York, 2017

It's getting dark. French windows reflect the setting sun behind the tall buildings opposite. Stubborn rays make their way between the facades and, like golden spears, cut through the growing darkness. The evening is coming. Elin hasn't come home for dinner in weeks. Today will be no different. He glances at his home a few blocks away and sees the overgrown plants on the terrace, the red parasol, the grill on and the thin wisp of smoke rising from it.

Someone comes out of the house - probably Sam or Alice. Or a random guest. The only difference is the figure moving between the plants.

They must be waiting for her. In vain.

Behind Elin in the studio, people are swarming. A gray and blue canvas hung on a metal easel covers the wall and floor. In the middle of the room, on a chaise longue lined with gold brocade, lay a beautiful woman with strings of pearls around her neck. Her white seal skirt draped to the floor, her upper body glistening with bronzer, necklaces covering her bare breasts. Her lips are red and a thick layer of makeup evens out her complexion to perfection.

Two assistants adjust the light. They raise and lower the big spotlights, click the camera, check the light meter and repeat it all over again. Behind them, a team of stylists and make-up artists meticulously examines the photos that have just been taken. They are dressed in black. Like everyone except Elin. She wears a red dress-as scarlet as blood, as scarlet as life, and as the setting sun outside.

The beautiful woman expresses her irritation by clucking her tongue in displeasure, snapping Elin out of her thoughts.

– Why are you so late? I won't last much longer in this position. Echo! Aren't we going to start already?

The woman sighs loudly and takes a more comfortable position. The pearl necklace shifts to reveal her blue hardened nipple. Two stylists respond in an instant and carefully and patiently begin to arrange the pearls to cover it up. They decide to tame some of the strings with double-sided clear tape, and the touch of their fingers makes the woman's skin stand up. She lets out a loud sigh again and rolls her eyes in exasperation, the only part of her body she can freely move.

At that moment, a man in a suit approaches Elin. The model agent. He leans over her, smiles kindly and whispers:

– We better get started. She's in a bad mood, and that's not good.

Elin nods slightly, turns again to the facades outside and sighs.

– We might as well stop there. We should already have enough successful shots, and we are not shooting for a cover - she suggests.

The agent raises his hands and glares at her angrily.

– No way. We continue with the photos.

Elin looks away from her home and heads towards the tripod and camera. The phone in her pocket vibrated. She does not answer, although she knows who is writing to her. This will only feed his remorse, because he will disappoint his family again.

Standing behind the easel and thousands of stars twinkle in the beautiful woman's eyes, she straightens her back and elegantly puts her lips forward. As she shakes her head, her hair falls freely back and sways with the gentle breeze of the fan. Both with Elin are celebrities. Soon everyone around them disappears and the two swallow each other. One is taking pictures and giving orders, the other is laughing and flirting with the camera. From behind, the team cheered them on. The intoxication of creativity flows through Elin's veins.

Hours passed until Elin forced herself to leave the studio and leave on the computer all the new photos that required her attention. On his phone, he sees a whole bunch of missed calls and angry messages from Sam and Alice. When are you coming home? where are you mom He skims them, but doesn't read them all the way through. No strength for that. None of the taxis that fill the bustling New York night stop. The asph alt is soaked in the heat of the hot sun and she decides to walk. He mingles with high-spirited, drunken youths who are laughing uproariously. Still others sit on the ground, looking dirty and vulnerable. Although she lives very close by, she hasn't walked home in a long time. She hasn't moved outside the four walls of her gym, studio or home in a long time. Her heels clack on the uneven pavement. He treads cautiously and pays attention to everything on the way. Her street, Orchard Street, is deserted, run-down and dirty, much like the Lower East Side. But the contrast between her home and her street appeals to her - this is how luxury and patina are opposed. He enters the lobby, slips past the napping security guard and presses the elevator button. But as soon as the doors open, she thinks twice and turns around. She wished she could spend more time outside in the throbbing night. They're probably already sleeping at home.

Opens the mailbox, picks up the stack of letters. (…) She shifts the letters in her hands and piles the unopened envelopes aside until one of them arouses her curiosity. The stamp is from Visby, with a Swedish stamp. Her name is written by hand, in blue ink and capital letters. He opens the letter and unfolds it. It looks like a star map but with her name on it. He holds his breath and reads the inscription:

Today a star is named after Elin.

Rereads the sentence several times in the already unfamiliar language. A long string of coordinates indicates the exact location of the firmament.

Someone bought her a star. Personally hers, bearing her name. Must be from…

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