Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim
At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.
The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around–she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.
Book Review ★★★☆☆
On paper, this should be a favorite book of mine. I love books about food, I love contemporary stories which rich, lyrical writing and a touch of magic. Everything added up should equal my ideal book.
For some reason, it just didn’t work for me. It felt like a mental block every time I tried to read it. Like my brain was fighting against my motivation to read. I was constantly being pulled from the story and things just didn’t feel fluid or natural to me.
The metaphorical and lyrical writing is usually exactly what I live for. Like whenever books include this they’re almost always immediate favorites. For some reason it just didn’t work for me in this one. I’m not sure if it was the dialogue or how they were added to specific scenes, but it always felt uncomfortable and forced. I was constantly being distracted by the writing and thinking “who says this kind of stuff????” I was even thinking that it was possible because of the 1st person pov? The fact that is wasn’t mystical enough to carry that sort of writing? Who knows (not I, obviously)
The romance was so unnecessary. I’m really confused why it was included at all. It was ultimate insta-love and she’s obsessing over him when they barely know each other. I think for a while he didn’t even know her name. I s2g there is more chemistry in 2012 ya dystopian books than in here. Why do they like each other??????????? He likes her dumplings and she likes that he likes them? I really didn’t understand it. It made zero sense to me.
*romance spoilers ahead*
I get that you can be *attracted* to someone without knowing them, but “meet” like 3 times then go on a date. The only thing we find out about him is that he works at a tech start-up. and for some reason he really cares for her. even though they know nothing about one another. They have a falling out (I just read this like 2 weeks ago and already can’t remember why YIKES) and months later they’re still thinking about one another and get back together??? I am CONFUSED
Maybe I’ll return to this story some day, but for now, unfortunately it was just not for me.
*Thank you to Berkley and Edelweiss for this review copy!