Review: A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
You may think this is just another Romeo and Juliet story. Two lovestruck teens whose families work across from each other, both owning a Vietnamese restaurants, and have been feuding before their time? There is so much more there than you know. I loved so much about this book and I don’t even know where to start. Check out my thoughts below and pick up A Pho Love Story, out now!
A Pho Love Storyby Loan Le
on February 9, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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 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 pho 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 in the same vicinity 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?
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.
One of the things I loved most about the love story between Linh and Bao is how both helped build each other up. Bao and Linh found each other when they both needed someone. They were in the time of their lives where they had to make important life decisions, and their families were pressuring them. They did not feel like they could let their parents down or be themselves, but realized that they could be themselves with each other. They both also found someone who supported them to open up about what they truly loved to do, and in doing so found what they did actually enjoy and the direction they did want to go. This seems like such a mature aspect to a teenage relationship.
To be yourself and to find support is a hard thing to do in an Asian American household, or at least it was in mine. The pressure to succeed, and be what your parents want, is paramount. To speak your mind and bring up what you would like to be in the future was never an easy feeling. My parents were definitely somewhere between Bao and Linh’s: you can do what you want and we will support you – or – you will fail and we have done everything so you won’t have that sort of life. I found I connected to a lot in this book, with overworked, stressed parents who wanted the world for me and didn’t always convey it as well as I am sure they meant to, and I definitely did not communicate well as a teen.
The way that Le wrote the parents’ background – woven throughout the book – allowed readers to learn about both families pasts in Vietnam, as well as their unique journeys to America and the trials associated. Bao and Linh learning the truth almost in a scavenger hunt way made the story less of an info dump and more heart wrenching in that you get to feel the feelings both teens find along their own journey to the truth behind their families pasts.
It was wonderful to watch Bao learn to write and as such I started to crave the food in the book more and more as his descriptions got so good, so beware reading this book you will be hungry. Linh’s art sounded so beautiful it was so cool to see how she bloomed and found mentors and started to connect and share her work as the book progressed.
There was nothing but magic in this book that I hope everyone gets to read and enjoy A Pho Love Story as much as I did.