by Loan Le
Release Date: February 9th 2021
Genres: Fiction, Romance, YA
Format Read: ARC, eBook
When Dimple Met Rishi meets Ugly Delicious in this funny, smart romantic comedy, in which two Vietnamese-American teens fall in love and must navigate their newfound relationship amid their families’ age-old feud about their competing, neighboring restaurants.
If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.
If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and spark and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.
For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring phở restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.
But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao together despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember.
Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories?
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I will pretty much jump at any chance to read a book written with and for the Vietnamese American experience and A Pho Love Story is no exception. This romantic comedy is a cute twist on the Romeo & Juliet trope – if Romeo and Juliet were Vietnamese American young adults whose parents own rival restaurants. The story is really sweet, with a solid combination of heart, humor, and serious issues.
This is the exact story that I would have loved to have growing up, especially during my middle and high school years. The representation of the Vietnamese family experience and community is on point. I know so many ‘Bao’s and ‘Linh’s and Loan Le’s portrayal of filial piety was fairly accurate – especially from the perspective of a teenager. As I’m older now, I’m also able to empathize with the Nguyen and Mai parents at the same time. Bao and LInh’s romance was sweet and the conflict was just angsty enough for what I’d expect from young adult fiction.
Living more than a 10 hour drive from my parents now, Le’s descriptions of the food made me miss my mother’s cooking so much. This was another book to inspire me to head out to my Asian grocery.
Marie loves finding strangers reading her favorite books, it truly seems like the books are recommending people as potential friends. By day she works in healthcare technology product marketing, but can always be found amongst the streets of Boston with a book or her Kindle in hand. Reading is one of her greatest passions and she has an appreciation for all genres – favorites include business non-fiction, contemporary, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Since most strangers frown upon being interrupted reading their book, and if it’s one of Marie’s favorites they’re probably super absorbed into it, she enjoys supporting her local bookish community and writing reviews and making recommendations to those who are looking to explore books that might be a bit out of their comfort zone.