|Pho love story|
Author: Le, Loan
High school seniors Bao and Linh, whose feuding families own competing Vietnamese restaurants, conceal their budding romance, as well as Linh's desire to become an artist.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 4.90
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 515353
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 12/01/2020 Gr 7 Up—Set in the Bolsa neighborhood of Westminster, CA, this romantic comedy, told in alternating first-person chapters, is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet that serves up family secrets and self-discovery with a side of hoisin sauce. The Mais and the Nguyens have been rivals ever since Linh's family opened a restaurant across the street from Bao's. But during senior year, they suddenly find themselves working together for the school newspaper on a series of local restaurant reviews. The story opens somewhat formulaically but evens out as tensions between the two restaurants rise and Linh and Bao begin to uncover truths about their families' shared past. In and out of school, Linh and Bao's burgeoning friendship believably turns into something more. Side characters are sparely rendered, allowing the spotlight to shine on Bao, a refreshingly sensitive masculine love interest, and Linh, whose love of painting is in conflict with her fear of not meeting her family's expectations. The book's explorations of immigration, racism, and family history move the plot forward and the feel-good ending is a tad too tidy. Even so, Linh's and Bao's character growth is as satisfying as a bowl of pho. Readers will appreciate the food references and the Vietnamese language interspersed throughout the book. Most characters are Vietnamese American; secondary characters include a white classmate, a Japanese art teacher, and a Black French woman. VERDICT Purchase where light romance or #OwnVoices books are in demand. Hand to fans of Sandhya Menon or Emma Lord.—Erica Ruscio, Ventress Memorial Lib., Marshfield, MA - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/01/2021 *Starred Review* Le stirs up a delicious romance in her debut novel about two teens working at competing restaurants. Bao Nguyen spends the majority of his time helping his parents at their Vietnamese restaurant. He never considers himself to be extraordinary and cruises through school by being average. It’s a chance school newspaper assignment that allows Bao to explore his talents and get to know the girl from the Vietnamese restaurant across the street, Linh Mai. Bao and Linh are repeatedly warned against mixing with the other; the Nguyens and Mais offer competing menu specials and coordinate their closing schedules so that their paths never cross. In the beginning, both teens assume their parents' hatred of the other family stems from restaurant rivalry, but as Linh and Bao spend more time together, they learn that their families are hiding something from their past and that echoes of the Vietnam War are still affecting their day-to-day lives. Le pens a love letter to her heritage, while never shying from the trauma of the Vietnam War. Through Linh and Bao, Le captures the fear of disappointing parents while navigating wants and needs. Readers will experience a gambit of emotions while reading this stirring novel, including hunger, loss, and finally, unadulterated joy. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.