I’ve been reading a lot of suspense lately. And not all the books have been my favorite. And sometimes you just need a break, am I right? Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune was the perfect refresh!
I went on a girl’s weekend with my sister to Napa and San Francisco back in February. It was my first time to San Francisco as an adult, the first time I think I was 8 or 9, so in a lot of ways I was seeing the city for the first time.
Our first stop was Chinatown, located at Grant Ave and Stockton St. It’s the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese enclave outside of Asia. It’s a whole street full of souvenir stores full of colorful trinkets, art stores and Chinese restaurants. There is a dragon gate to the street and red lanterns hanging across the buildings as you walk. Definitely a place worth visiting!
At the end of our trip, I settled into my seat on the flight home and opened Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune to read. And I was kind of amazed to realize that the book takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown, a place I had just visited for the first time several days before.
I found it to be such a charming little book, and it was so much fun to have such a vivid picture of the neighborhood that Natalie Tan returns to in the book.
From the Publisher:
Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim’s magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.
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.
Natalie Tan has been running from her agoraphobic Chinese mother and her past for the past seven years. And she probably would have kept running if the news of her mother’s death did not force her to return to her old neighborhood to settle her mother’s affairs.
She slinks back with her tail between her legs, only to be called out by all those around her–her mother’s friends, shop owners and the community who felt she had committed the worst sin a daughter can–abandoning her mother, leaving her to die alone.
But as Natalie starts to delve deep into her mother’s and grandmother’s pasts, a lot of her childhood takes on a new meaning. And she starts to understand the importance of community as she works to restore her grandmother’s old restaurant and re-build and strengthen the Chinese community.
This one was so charming and compulsively readable. And the recipes!!! I’m going to have to try quite a few of these, although it seems that my cooking will probably not do justice to Natalie’s cooking.
I can see the movie already, I really hope one is in the works or will be soon! There were a couple things that didn’t gel for me in the book, but I passed them off to Chinese mysticism. Overall it was just delightful!
Special thanks to Berkeley Publishing Group and Netgalley for an e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out June 11, 2019. Preorder your copy!