ARC Review: A Pho Love Story

I haven’t really known what to expect from YA romance novels lately – they’ve been a bit disappointing. But A Pho Love Story by Loan Le gave me all the feels, honestly I felt like I had tears in my eyes for the last quarter of the book. If you want a book where you’ll care for all the characters, that has a deep, emotional plot, and will make you very, very hungry, then this is the story for you.

Star rating: 5 stars

The book has two points of view – the teenage kids of rival Vietnamese restaurant owners with businesses across the street from each other. Bao moves through life with no aims, assuming that he is destined for mediocrity. Linh has goals – she wants to be a painter, but her parents, Vietnamese immigrants, do not want her to have a hard life like they did and so disapprove.

Both characters had such strong stories and journeys that I couldn’t help but read this book in one sitting. Their parents both have different attitudes towards their kids, Bao’s just want him to have something, but Linh’s want her to have a secure career and life. One thing their parents do agree on is that they should avoid each other – and they often try to outcompete each other as restaurant owners. But is there more to these families than just being business rivals?

What captured me the most about this story was the family dynamics. Both Bao and Linh learn so much about their parents’ histories and it helps a reader see the disagreements from all perspectives. When Linh and Bao decide to put rivalry aside and get to know each other, as they tried to as young children, it really makes for a heart-warming story of growth, forgiveness, love and friendship.

With divine food descriptions (I really want to try Vietnamese food now), and a story I felt with every word, A Pho Love Story is not one to miss. It’s so much more than a love story, it’s the story of escaping war and wanting what is best for your kids, of realising they might not always be who you expected them to be and accepting it.

Will you be picking up A Pho Love Story? I truly believe this is a great book choice for teens and adults alike.