Hidey Ho, Bookworms!
I was trying to think of a subtitle for this week’s blog and all I could come up with were 20 year old Barenaked Ladies lyrics. Hi, I’m An Old. Anyway. I’m very very slowly meandering through a non-fiction book right now. It’s really good and interesting but I just cannot read non fiction at the same speed with which I tackle fiction. Luckily, I was able to indulge in some audio book goodness so my slow eyeballs didn’t completely hinder my reading progress this week. Let’s talk about these tasty ear nuggets.
A Pho Love Story by Loan Le- Bao and Linh hail from Vietnamese families that emigrated to the US who run traditional Vietnamese restaurants. They have a shocking amount in common, but their parents have been embroiled in a feud for as long as either Bao or Linh can remember. The origins of said feud are murky at best, but in an effort to keep the peace, Bao and Linh have kept their distance from each other… Until one day, they don’t. Bao and Linh embark on a friendship, and later, sparks fly. Of course, all of this is taking place under a veil of secrecy because their parents are pulling some serious Montague/Capulet drama. The book is touted as a rom-com, but I think that’s a misrepresentation. The book is charming and heartfelt, but not exactly a giggle-fest. It’s quite deep, actually, and delves into the immigrant experience, racism, and the trauma of leaving a war-torn nation only to start over from scratch. There’s so much I loved about this book! But, as a certified Old, I liked the portrayal of Bao and Linh’s relationships with their parents the best. Yes, they were fraught, but the fact that there was so much love and that (spoiler alert) they are able to eventually reach important understandings was refreshing. There are so many YA books where the children just end up accepting that their parents will never change that it’s nice to see an instance where the parents aren’t so broken that they’re not willing to meet their kids halfway, you know? I realize that both types of representation are important, but this one gave me warm fuzzies. I like to see parents who make amends for their screw ups and clearly love their kids, OK? I love Sammy throughout the infinite universes and I screw up all the time. This was very wish-fulfillment-y for me. Anyway. If you’re interested in a sweet contemporary YA novel, give this one a chance. And give it a chance in audio, because it’s always better when you hear snippets of foreign languages spoken than just trying to wrap your brain around the pronunciation. This goes double for tonal languages like Vietnamese. My monolingual English speaking self cannot conjure the correct pronunciation simply from looking at the words on the page. (Thanks to narrators Ryan Do and Vyvy Nguyen for their awesomeness.)
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane- Laurie is blindsided when her partner of 18 years, Dan, leaves her seemingly out of the blue. As (bad) luck would have it, the pair not only lived together, but also work at the same law firm. Laurie is still reeling from her life’s upheaval when she finds herself stranded in an elevator with the office scoundrel, Jamie. That’s right. Trapped in an elevator leads to drinks which leads to (dun dun dun!) FAKE DATING. Jamie wants to change his image in order to get a promotion at work. Laurie wants her ex to regret his decision. It’s the perfect mutually beneficial ruse! Until, of course, Laurie and Jamie catch feelings for real. This book is a closed door romance, but the emotional swoon factor is intense. Also- I love audio books so much. Accents are my favorite. Whenever my brain defaults to British accent, it’s a very posh London-y sound, so I’m always delighted by accents from other parts of the UK. Were they perfectly performed? I don’t know. I’m from Illinois. But they SOUNDED impressive and the fact that the narrator was able to bounce from Yorkshire to Eastern Midlands to Welsh impressed the heck out of me. I definitely googled a map of the UK to see where all these places are in relation to one another because I don’t know things. Can I differentiate between several subtle Midwestern US accents? Yes, but that’s very boring and this was very not. Anyway, you should read this with your ears if you get the chance. Delightful. *Edit: It occurred to me last night as I was trying to fall asleep that I didn’t mention the name of the incredible narrator in this post. It’s Sara Novak. Hi, Sara Novak! You’re amazing!*
That’s all for this week, Bookworms. Tell me all about what you’ve been reading!
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I started singing the song immediately in my head.