Title: A Pho Love Story
Author: Loan Le
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 9th, 2021
Page Length: 416
Genre: Contemporary | Romance
Age Range: YA
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.
Thanks to Netgalley and Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I was really excited to pick this one up – not only was it a cute looking YA Romance but the secret dating/forbidden dating is a trope I wanted to read more of. I’m so glad I ended up reading this one! The characters were written realistically and were well developed. I believed the way Bao and Linh interacted and supported one another. The best friends were also memorable, despite barely being in it. The complications of family disputes and the hidden secrets and history between the two families was intriguing and kept me interested until the end – with the final twist reveal. I loved the importance Le put in family (relationships and sense of duty) as I found it really relatable. The characters try to do right by their family, but still try to do right for themselves and support the other. The relationships between characters were well formed and you got a scene that these characters did know each other really well.
I loved Le’s writing. I found it funny and realistic – at no point did I find it too outlandish in coincidences, and it was not full of clichés common in the YA genre. I quickly binged it because of how well Le wrote her characters, plot and scenery. Everything felt familiar, despite me never having stepped foot in California. OMG the food! I can’t forget to mention the amount of food in this book. Obviously having two main characters working at family Vietnamese Restaurants, there will be a lot of mentioning of food and boy did it make me hungry! The inclusion of the arts portion of the novel didn’t feel forced and was a nice edition to the family feud portion of the novel.
Overall, I found this to be a cute YA romance that I can see myself reading again come next summer or when I want a cute comforting read. I can’t wait to read the companion novel, Solving for the Unknown, and whatever else Le writes next.