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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

I was pretty excited to read one of my favorite genres of books: magical realism, with a dash of foodie thrown into the mix. This delightful novel didn't disappoint and I loved everything about it. 

Natalie returns to her mother's apartment in San Francisco's Chinatown after learning her mother has died. Guilt-ridden at leaving home in anger years before, she's grieving over her lost relationship with her agoraphobic mother and isn't sure what her next move will be. A failure at cooking school, her desire is to open a restaurant just like her grandmother, Qiao. Her grandmother's restaurant was a pillar of the community, and when she died, Natalie's mother refused to keep the restaurant going. Over the years, a part of the Chinatown community started to die off, and now a greedy real estate agent wants to buy out the remaining families and turn it into a new hipster community. 

Natalie learns that she has inherited the apartment and restaurant below; her task: to reopen the restaurant using her Qiao's recipe book. But before she can do that, she has to cook for three members of the community in order for the restaurant to be successful and in doing that, revitalize the people and businesses around her. Not a small task! If she fails, the neighborhood is doomed. 

Qiao's recipes aren't just recipes, of course. They all mean something, whether it's giving courage, opening up hearts, or helping someone find their luck. After carefully visiting folks around the community, she creates her three recipes and invites them each for a meal. But what seems easy isn't so easy, and disaster soon strikes. 

How can Natalie save her dream of reopening the restaurant, make peace with the neighbors, and understand why her mother left Natalie's father a big secret?It seems like a lot, but it all comes together nicely--even a potential romance with Daniel. What I really enjoyed, besides the recipes, was the glimpse into Chinese culture. Natalie is throughly American, but she honors the traditions of her family and culture by respecting her elders, being humble, and seeing the signs all around her that most of us would usually ignore. Those traditions and Chinese mythology made what could have been just a regular ho-hum contemporary story into a very enjoyable, thoroughly charming, novel. I can't wait to read more from Roselle Lim. 

Rating: 5/6 for novel with a dash of magic, mythology, romance, food, and tradition. A young woman struggles to understand and make peace with her mother's passing, and in doing so, discovers more about herself than she could have ever imagined. It's all about dreams, love, hope, and determination.

Available in paperback, audio, and ebook.

2 comments :

  1. This novel sounds like my kind of read! I will be adding it to my ever growing reading wishlist.

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