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A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

A Pho Love Story will have readers falling in love and hungry too.  It has so much to offer about the Vietnamese culture, language, food, and history that is as mesmerizing as it is delectable.”

Cecelia Beckman, Sheaf & Ink

The Story

Bao Nguyen and Linh Mai are rivals.  Well, maybe not them, but their parents’ Vietnamese restaurants are.  But as all good love stories go these two teens are far from enemies. After chance brings them together, their feelings begin to grow into something more as they spend more time with each other.  But the question is can they be together with their families complex history?

My Review: A Pho Love Story

There are so many reasons I love this book.

Le masterfully takes art, teenage love, and Vietnamese food and melds them into a brilliant romance that is homage to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. As if Le were the Greek god Hephaestus, instead of using raw materials of ore and iron, Le plucks experiences from humanity: love, friendship, grief, acceptance, and second-chances, fusing them into a blaze of indelible moments as iridescent as the burning stars. 

Deeply intimate in the portrayal of family, most profoundly in how attuned Le’s narrative is to bridging the loss and sorrow of the past to the present, blending them together like new hues of paint, creating a story that readers will experience on multiple levels.

There are moments in this novel that I’m still taking in.  Recalling the collective words, like intricate brush strokes of a masterpiece, searing its brilliance, its spark into memory.  And it is Le’s writing of family and the ties binding them together that really cements A Pho Love Story as an exceptional read. 

My Thoughts

Family is not easy. 

It can be a difficult journey to traverse and when we begin to go down a path our parents did not intend it can become like walking through an open field with hidden landmines.  And when our parents find out where we are headed it can be explosive: a bomb detonating and the shrapnel can leave devastating wounds.  But, how do you mend those wounds?  How do you make things right, while also feeling seen by your parents. 

Le has this special moment (I won’t go into detail as it deserves to be experienced) between Linh Mai and her father towards the end of the novel. Tears blurred my vision in how Le wrote this scene, and there was one sentence in particular (I’m already tearing up remembering) left me without words.  It made me think, as a parent, this, this is a moment during parenthood that you hold close. You remember.

A Few More Thoughts

Additionally, Le’s story is a romance a sweet and adorable one at that.  Though, there is this undercurrent of sadness weaved throughout.  She writes from a historical context with echoes of the Vietnam War and how it has affected those people who came to the United States as well as the main characters.  How running a family restaurant can show the deep bonds and ties of family and the love of their native language and food.  Family feuds that can lead to ugly and damaging consequences, but hopeful they can be mended. Finding your passion, even when your family might not agree, but doing it all the same because it brings you immense joy. 

Le crafts all of this and so much more with an aroma and taste that is something savory and sweet, without feeling overwhelmed by the enormity and sometime fragility of this coming-of-age love story in just 416 pages.

It’s a book you seriously need to read.

Happy Reading  ̴ Cece

RATING: ink blotink blotink blotink blot – Exceptionally Inked

Author: Loan Le

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: February, 2021

Pages: 416

ISBN-10: 153444193X

ISBN-13: 978-1534441934

Audience: 12 and up

Jacket Design: Unknown at this time

Jacket Art: Unknown at this time

You can find A Pho Love Story at ⬇️

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