Book Review: A Phở Love Story by Loan Le

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Bảo Nguyen has known about Linh Mai for years. He knows she’s an artist, he knows she’s his same age, he knows she’s really pretty and he knows that, as the daughter of the family that opened a rival phở restaurant across the street from his family’s own phở restaurant, she is completely off limits. When a school project throws Linh and Bảo together the chemistry between them is undeniable. The couple starts to wonder if perhaps there isn’t more to their two families’ ongoing feud. And, if there is, what does it mean for Linh and Bảo’s budding romance?

“She’s scared. And I wish I could tell her that I am too, that I don’t know how it’ll work. But if we could just hold hands a bit longer maybe we could figure it out.”

-Bảo Nguyen, A Ph Love Story

🖌️🖌️🖌️🖌️🖌️ (five stars as rated in Linh Mai’s paintbrushes)

Reading this book was one of the most heart-fluttering, giggle-inducing, tear-jerking book experiences I’ve had yet in 2021. This story has everything I am looking for in a YA love story. The relationships are dynamic, the characters are compelling and an author that can make you laugh in the midst of palpable heartbreak is probably the definition of literary excellence. The characters are as fun as they are strong while also being beautifully vulnerable and complicated. Even at the most difficult moments, the parent-child relationships are written with compassion and empathy which really is so important. In the words of my friend Amanda (with whom I buddy read this book and who is half Vietnamese herself), “I wish more books like this existed so Asian kids can maybe resent their parents less if we speak about it and read about it in a loving way.” In A Phở Love Story Loan Le has managed to illustrate the immigrant experience – as well as that of second generation Asian American teenagers – sincerely and respectfully while still keeping the overall tone of the book lighthearted and profoundly hopeful. If that doesn’t deserve five stars then I honestly don’t know what does.

“When I paint, there’s always a moment where I just know that I’m finally finished. The colors and textures come together to depict a feeling of rightness. Us here is that rightness.”

-Linh Mai, A Ph Love Story

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book at a glance

✒️ Debut Novel
🇻🇳 Vietnamese Rep
💞 Young Love
🧭 Immigrant Experience

✨ Rep in this book: Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American MC’s and supporting characters

✨ Content warnings for this book: racism, generational trauma, death of a loved one, refugee experience, grief, drowning, mentions of war

Image Description: A flat lay featuring an audio book version of A Ph Love Story by Loan Le as seen on the screen of an Android phone with a black case. The phone sits on a cutting board which slices diagonally through the frame and is surrounded by star anise, cardamom, Thai basil, lime wedges and cinnamon sticks. A soup spoon enters the frame to the left and there is a large white bowl of broth to the right.
about the author

Loan Le

Loan Le is the author of A Phở Love Story, a YA rom-com that earned praise from NPR, POPSUGAR, Bustle, and BuzzfeedShe holds an MFA degree in fiction from Fairfield University, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree. A Pushcart Prize-nominated writer, Loan has had her short stories appear in CRAFT LiteraryMud Season Review, and more. She is an editor at Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster adult imprint. When she’s not writing young adult novels, she’s writing ghostly, dark adult fiction, watching slow-burn K-Dramas, and listening to BTS. (Copied from the author’s personal website).

about the narrator

Ryan Do and Vyvy Nguyen

Ryan is a Asian American voice actor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a drive for performance. Being drawn to perform from an early age, he found voice acting as a medium to balance his passion for the arts while also maintaining his studies. Ryan gained his skills in writing through the Philadelphia Young Playwrights, and his skills in performance from various institutions, such as Beijing Opera and Chinatown’s Mid-Autumn Festival. These experiences have helped him perfect his craft and bring him to where he is today as a multimedia producer. With experience in video games, animations, web-series, and narration, voice over is a dream come true for Ryan. (copied from the narrator’s personal website)

Other books narrated by Ryan Do: The Writer’s Library

My name is VyVy (pronounced vee-vee). Hailing from Anaheim, California, I fell in love with acting in the eighth grade, when my teacher Mr. Gaston encouraged me to audition for the school play. I graduated with a BA in theatre from the University of Southern California and also studied abroad with the British American Drama Academy (BADA). I have been fortunate over the years to act in plays, commercials, and films, playing such diverse roles as English reporters, Vietnamese manicurists, French students, and aliens not of this world. (copied from the narrator’s personal website)

Other books narrated by Vyvy Nguyen: Family in Six Tones, Reach for Infinity, Mango and Peppercorns, Version Zero, Quiet as They Come

A Phở Love Story was one of the most heart-fluttering, giggle-inducing, tear-jerking reading experiences I’ve had yet in 2021. Loan Le knocks it out of the park and, y’all… THE NARRATION!! 😍😍 This is top notch stuff. @loanloan @c_squint @cest_la_vyvy



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Published by Sarah

My name is Sarah and I can't imagine my life without books. Actually, I can and it's terrible. I'm also into climbing, video games and bothering the nearest cat.

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