There are no spoilers in this review.
Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, 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.
Since I usually review young adult books on this blog, a little heads-up here: please note that this is an adult book, the main character is 28 years old. That being said, I feel like it could appeal to older young adult books readers with its themes and all.
- Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune warmed my heart SO much overall, it was such a wonderful debut that was a delight to read, had me smiling, had my heart aching and made me very happy, too, overall.
- At the heart of the story, we have Natalie, coming back home after her mother’s death, re-discovering the Chinatown she knew slowly fading, re-discovering her community, her neighbors and so on. She was a great main character, driven by her own dream, grappling with her family’s past, doing her very best, sometimes stumbling and making mistakes, I really loved her a lot.
- The relationships between the characters were so, so great to follow and I think that’s what I loved the most about it all. If there is romance (more on that later), the book follows even more deeply the relationships within Chinatown and the community, the way they have each other’s back, help each other, gain trust in each other again and so on. This made me so, so happy and warmed my heart and, when complications came I wanted them all to be okay again. I adored that.
- There was a little bit of romance there to make you swoon, but I appreciated that it didn’t take over the entire story, either. The love interest was really, really sweet and supportive and all I’m asking for, really, yet his presence and the slow-starting romance didn’t take over everything.
- This book made me VERY HUNGRY. Natalie is a fantastic chef and, as you read on, you get to read all about her family’s recipes, how she cooks, how the food melts in your mouth, Chinese, Vietnamian, Filipino dishes and so many others, too and ahh I’m very hungry okay.
- From family to food to community, to mental illness and more, I loved how immersed I felt into these lives and this Chinatown community that felt like family. I loved it.
I HAD A HARD TIME WITH…
- I felt a little confused while reading at times because I didn’t expect the magical realism parts of the book, at all, I had no idea there was magical realism in this story and, when I first read some passages, I felt.. well, really confused.
- I didn’t really have a hard time with this overall, and even if I put it in the positives of this review, too, I just want to talk for a second about the romance. I appreciated Daniel a whole lot, but I feel like the romance wasn’t entirely necessary to the story as a whole. You know me, I love a good romance overall, but here, in this particular story, I feel like it wasn’t entirely necessary.
If you’re looking for a fun, endearing, heartwarming read that will make you very hungry, I’d 200% recommend Natalie Tan’s Book Of Luck and Fortune!
Final rating: 4 drops!
The biggest thanks to Penguin Random House International, Berkley & NetGalley for sending me a free e-ARC of this book for review. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.
Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one, grief, talks of agoraphobia and depression.
Diversity: all-cast of Chinese characters. This is an #ownvoices book: the author is Filipino-Chinese.
Did you read Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune? Do you want to?
Do you know any books with A LOT OF FOOD? Let me know in comments!