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.
*ARC received as a part of a blog tour. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*
I don’t think I can actually put in words just how much I love this book and what it’s made me feel in such a short time. I went into it thinking it was a romance centered around a woman finding her family, but it’s not. It’s so much more. It’s… It’s about finding who you are, as a daughter, as a neighbour, as a business owner, as a person. It’s about making mistakes and owning up to them and learning from them. It’s absolutely beautiful. I love it so much. Just, everything about this book. I’m in awe.
The plot is most definitely the hero of this story. I absolutely love how it reads, how it grows and how everything concludes so nicely at the end. It’s so well thought out and so amazingly paced that it’s impossible to find any flaws in it. I was completely involved in everything going right from the get go and it was so good that I finished it in one sitting, reading till almost 2:30 at night. This story just has that quality about it. I dare you to stop reading it in the middle. I’m sure you won’t be able to either, because it is just so freaking good!
Natalie’s character is amazing. I love her. I would die for her. For sure. She comes home to San Francisco after being away for 7 years after a disagreement with her mother when her mother passes away. She hadn’t spoken to her mother in all those years she’s spent away from home, and she clearly regrets it now, so she tries to make things right. When she finds out that she inherited her grandmother’s restaurant, she sees it as the opportunity she needed because she always wanted her own restaurant. Things change after that, and she starts to make friends with her neighbours, and even tries to help them with her cooking, but of course, things get a lot worse before they get better. But, Natalie doesn’t back down and does her best to right the wrongs she’d inadvertently done. Her character arc through the story is phenomenally done and as she grows from a person who runs at the first sign of trouble to the one who faces her problems head on, you can’t help but root for her and want her to find her home. Her journey is full of love and hope and heartbreak and it’s so very beautiful that I teared up on more than one occasion.
Even the secondary characters are pretty developed. They’re all 3 dimensional, going through their own ups and downs. We get short glimpses into all their lives, the neighbours who make Natalie’s street what it is. It’s obvious, how much they value the sense of community within them and it’s described so wonderfully. I absolutely love it. It is really well done.
The romance is a very secondary aspect of this story, but the little that we saw, was cute and heartwarming. I really liked it. It was so nice and just gave me the warm fuzzies. ❤
Over all, this was such beautiful and important story and everyone should read it.
Roselle Lim was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada as a child. She lived in north Scarborough in a diverse, Asian neighbourhood.
She found her love of writing by listening to her lola (paternal grandmother’s) stories about Filipino folktales. Growing up in a household where Chinese superstition mingled with Filipino Catholicism, she devoured books about mythology, which shaped the fantasies in her novels.
An artist by nature, she considers writing as “painting with words.”
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Have you read Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune? What did you think of it? Who’s your favourite character? If not, are you planning on reading it?