A PHO LOVE STORY by LOAN LE
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
I haven’t dipped my toes into the world of YA contemporary for awhile. so I figured I’d give it a go with A Pho Love Stoty by Loan Le. We follow Linh Mai and Bao Nguyen in their families’ perspective pho restaurants. The Mais and the Nugyens have had a rivalry for years, and becaused of this, Linh and Bao have never even spoken to one another. One night, however, sparks fly when Bao decides to comfort Linh in her time of need, and their love story starts from there. Think Romeo snd Juliet but with restaurants and no dying.
What first attracted me to this book was the cover. It’s so pretty and I love the shade of purple the designers went with. I also was interested in reading a book by a Vietnamese author, which I haven’t done much of until now. A Pho Love Story seemed like the perfect choic
e. And it was. This wasn’t my favorite book of all time, but it was a cute read. Now I’ll tell you why:
In A Pho Love Story, we read from both Linh and Bao’s perspectives. They were
both fine as characters but I have to admit, I got confused as to whose chapter I was reading sometimes because their voices are interchangable. This is a problem I find with a lot of books featuring multiple POVs, especially if they’re written in first person. The voices are very similar to the point where I don’t know who’s who. Aside from that quibble, I would say I enjoyed Bao a little more than Linh. He was just a tad more interesting and I related to his newfound desire to be a writer.
The secondary characters are unexpectedly great here. In most books, you don’t think much about them because they aren’t given enough page time, but in A Pho Love Story, you’ve got Linh’s best friend Ali, a journalism enthusiast and total shark. We’ve got Viet, Bao’s best friend and a forensic science enthusiast. My favorite side character is totally Chef Le, the owner of a Vietnamese restaurant Bao and Linh frequent. Chef Le is a complete Bro with a capital B. He’s sweet and fun and kind of dense and I would read a whole book about him.
A Pho Love Story is packed with delicious descriptions of food. It made me so hungry throughout my reading experience. There was also the added dimension of the generational trauma that comes from Vietnamese immigrants–especially with how many had to escape during the Vietnam War. I really loved and appreciated how A Pho Love Story touched on this topic and it makes me want to learn more about it.
A Pho Love Story can be found at the Argenta Library today!