Chapter 1 Summary
Sophie Amundsen lives with her mother in a suburban house. Her father, an oil tanker captain, is seldom home. Her mother works outside the home and comes home late in the afternoon. To make up for being alone some much, she is given several animals, including a cat called Sherekan.
Coming home from school one day, she looks in the mailbox and finds a letter (without a return address or stamp) addressed to her. Inside is a note with one question: "Who are you?" This perplexes Sophie, who takes the letter to her secret hiding place in the hedge that she calls her "den." She ponders over the question, coming up with several answers, none of which she thinks is satisfactory.
Thinking that perhaps there might be another letter, Sophie checks the mailbox again, and indeed does find another letter, this one asking "Where does the world come from?" Again, Sophie muses of the possible answers, both scientific and religious. She realizes that the universe must have come from something, but at what point does something come from nothing?
Checking the mailbox again, she finds a postcard, addressed in care of her to Hilde Knag Moller. It is a birthday card from Hilde’s father, apologizing that he could not be there for her birthday, and also for sending the card through Sophie, because it was "the easiest way."
Sophie is completely confused at this point. Where did the letters come from? What were the answers to the questions in the letters? Who is Hilde?