A ph̉ơ love story

Loan Le

Book - 2021

B̉ao Nguy̋en would describe himself as steady and strong: his grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents' ph̉ơ restaurant - as his parents' fifth favorite employee. Linh Mai would describe herself as a firecracker: stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She dreams of pursuing a career in art, while working practically full-time at her family's ph̉ơ restaurant. Bao and Linh have never even had a class together - but after a... chance encounter, sparks fly. Can this relationship survive their families' feud? -- adapted from jacket.

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Subjects
Genres
Romance fiction
Domestic fiction
Published
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers [2021]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
406 pages ; 22 cm
Audience
Ages 12 up.
Grades 7 and up.
ISBN
9781534441934
153444193X
Main Author
Loan Le (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*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. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Vietnamese American high school seniors B?o Nguy?n, who has a "fascination with strange words," and Linh Mai, an aspiring artist, have only ever known the bad blood between their families—especially since the Mais opened a restaurant right across the street from the Nguy?ns five years ago. Besides a brief encounter at the Buddhist temple when they were children, Linh and B?o have never interacted, having been given explicit instruction not to by their parents. Until B?o notices Linh rushing out of her family's restaurant one night, overwhelmed by a flood of customers, and offers his help. What should be a brief partnership turns into the start of school newspaper trysts and the discovery of long-buried heartaches. Told in alternating first-person chapters, Le's debut is an introspective examination of struggles that children of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants can face, as well as experiences of racism and unspoken sacrifices made to survive in a cutthroat industry and country. The classic star-crossed lovers recipe is updated with traditional Vietnamese dishes and smooth integration of the author's southern Vietnamese dialect, star ingredients of this warm, delightful read. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

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 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Avoiding each other most of their lives because of a mysterious rivalry, two Vietnamese-American teens from competing pho restaurants fall in love by chance while uncovering the reason behind their families’ generations-old feud. A first novel. 50,000 first printing. Simultaneous and eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

High school seniors Bàao and Linh, whose feuding families own competing Vietnamese restaurants, conceal their budding romance, as well as Linh's desire to become an artist.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

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 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?

Review by Publisher Summary 4

“Will leave readers swooning.” —PopSugar​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 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?