Cait’s Review of “A Phở Love Story” by Loan Le

By: Cait Marie

Blurb

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?

Review

This book was so good! Especially for a debut novel! It had been on my TBR since before it released early last year, and it did not disappoint.

Linh and Bao are the modern-day Romeo and Juliet, minus the poison and dagger. Their families are rivals, and they’ve been banned from speaking to each other, but then they’re paired up for their school’s newspaper. They quickly realize how much they have in common, and there’s an undeniable pull to one another.

I loved seeing them become secret friends first. That really set the building blocks for them to grow into more and let it happen at a natural pace. It felt very real, not rushed like in a lot of YA romances.

The characters themselves were well developed. The families were as well, and the mysterious history kept me reading into the middle of the night because I needed to know what happened. I will admit, I was hoping for a little more explanation on part of it after all that build up. It gave enough to make assumptions, but unless I missed something, we didn’t get the details on how exactly a certain character died in the past. It wasn’t the point of the story, and the cause had no impact, I’m just curious.

The book had a nice pace. It was a fun, light story, but it also had a lot of depth and meaning. It shed a light on Vietnamese-American families, traditions, and their struggles. I always enjoy books about cultures different than my own. This one was written very well, and I will absolutely be keeping an eye out for more by this author.

One final note. I ended up listening to the audiobook, which I did have some minor issues with, but it did not take away from the story overall. It was just a little awkward how the narrators paused before the Vietnamese words. I’d wished it flowed just a little more.

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