A Pho Love Story | An ARC Review

Hiya! Today I’ll be reviewing ‘A Pho Love Story’ by Loan Le. It’s actually my first ever eARC/ARC, and I am so happy I was approved to read this novel! Thank you Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Publishers for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. (Please note that the synopsis provided is from goodreads.) Without further ado, here is the review!

A Pho Love Story: Le, Loan: 9781534441934: Books - Amazon.ca

If Bao Nguyen had to describe himself, he’d say he was a rock. Steady and strong, but not particularly interesting. His grades are average, his social status unremarkable. He works at his parents’ pho restaurant, and even there, he is his parents’ fifth favorite employee. Not ideal.
If Linh Mai had to describe herself, she’d say she was a firecracker. Stable when unlit, but full of potential for joy and fire. She loves art and dreams pursuing a career in it. The only problem? Her parents rely on her in ways they’re not willing to admit, including working practically full-time at her family’s pho restaurant.
For years, the Mais and the Nguyens have been at odds, having owned competing, neighboring pho restaurants. Bao and Linh, who’ve avoided each other for most of their lives, both suspect that the feud stems from feelings much deeper than friendly competition.
But then a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao in the same vicinity despite their best efforts and sparks fly, leading them both to wonder what took so long for them to connect. But then, of course, they immediately remember. Can Linh and Bao find love in the midst of feuding families and complicated histories? 

First let’s talk about the plot! The original premise sounded very promising, and the plot was executed pretty well. The readers were able to get lovely descriptions of Phở and other delicious Vietnamese foods, which made me, admittedly, very hungry. Unfortunately, I felt as though we didn’t get much time in the restaurants. It would have been so cool to see all the steps it takes to establish a restaurant.

The characters were a delight! Bao was snarky and always made me laugh. He was honestly just a really kind and caring character towards everyone really. I loved how the idea of not knowing what he wanted to do in the future was executed in the novel. Uncertainty about the future is a very real that people go through, so it was definitely cool to see! Linh on the other hand knew she wanted to be an artist. It’s wonderful to see young people pursuing the arts, and I loved how Loan Le incorporated Linh’s family into her art. Linh’s inspiration for creating art was very beautiful and I found myself liking her character. However, she wasn’t as memorable as I thought she’d be. Moreover, Linh and Bao had a very healthy relationship. They were so cute together, and made a fantastic team! There was some miscommunication, but it was worked out throughout the novel!

Since the version I read of A Pho Love Story was an ARC, there won’t be any quotes in my review. Instead, take this cute cat!

The side characters were unique as well. I loved how the cast was almost all Vietnamese. It was very refreshing to see! Linh’s friend Ally, and Bao’s friend Viet, where great supporting characters. They were both helpful, and funny. I only wish the author went more in depth into the lives of the side characters. I also absolutely adored the family dynamic. The tension between the two families felt raw and realistic. Another character I enjoyed reading about is Chef Le and his family’s hilarious cameos. It was nice to see a very wholesome relationship between the Mai sisters. Evie and Linh have a lovely sibling dynamic that I wish was explored more in the book. A Pho Love Story is gorgeously done in terms of creating a sense of community within families, and I fell in love with that. Having a loving family is something very special, so I am very happy it was explored vividly throughout the novel.

The dialogue between Linh, Bao, and their friends felt pretty average, nothing ground-breaking was said. It was the dialogue between the main characters and their parents that really intrigued me. I haven’t read many YA novels where the parents and children had intricate relationships. Furthermore, it was very interesting to see Vietnamese spoken throughout the book. I love learning about different languages and cultures, so this only added to the enjoyment of the novel!

I unfortunately struggled with the writing style. The point of view switches from Bao to Linh, and vice versa every 10-15 pages or so. I found myself struggling with trying to understand if the we were in Bao’s head, or in Linh’s. At other times, the story felt repetitive and boring. In my opinion, A Pho Love Story didn’t need to be over 400 pages long. If it was slightly shorter, I’m sure I would have loved it even more.

As mentioned previously, the book seemed to drag on at times and felt a bit repetitive. That did affect the overall enjoyment level a lot. Nevertheless, it was still an incredibly refreshing read that I totally recommend!

Age Rating: 13 and up

TW: Stories of war and death

Final Rating: 7.25/10 or 4 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

So, will you read A Pho Love Story? Have a great day!

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Saniya’s Review Policy

Hiya everyone! I hope you are all safe and well. Before I start making anymore reviews, I wanted to create a review policy so you guys can better understand how I rate and review books!

Step By Step Guide On How I Review Books

  1. Plot Execution: I rate the plot’s execution out of 10. It doesn’t matter how amazing the plot is, if it wasn’t executed well, then it looses points here.
  2. Main characters: Whether a main character is likeable or not really does matter to me, (unless they are meant to be unlikeable.) I’ll ask questions like, “Did their personality seem flat?” or “Where they intriguing?” This section is also rated out of 10.
  3. Side Characters: I rate the uniqueness or how loveable the side characters are here! If they’re meant to be unlikeable for some reason, then I’ll just rate them on how interesting they are! (rated out of ten.)
  4. Dialogue: Was the dialogue interesting? Was it unnecessary? Rated out of ten, like all the other sections.
  5. Writing Style: Was the writing boring? Was it confusing? Was it gripping? Was it beautiful? These are the types of questions I’ll ask when reviewing the writing. (Out of ten as well.)
  6. For comics; The Art Style: Did the art style stay consistent throughout the book? Did the art style change or decrease? Did the art style correlate with the plot, the overall mood, and theme of the story. If there was color, did the color effectively portray the emotions of the characters or the setting? For comics I will not judge the actual art style itself by saying things like ‘It’s a bad art style.’ That isn’t fair to the illustrator that worked hard on it. (Out of ten as well.) If there was color, did the color effectively portray the emotions of the characters or the setting?
  7. Enjoyment: Did I ever want to put the book down? Was the story gripping? (Out of ten as well.)
  8. The total score/overall review is out of 10 points!

Rating System

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I love this book so much! There might have been some flaws, but not enough for me to rate it any lower than this. This book was incredible, and I believe that everyone should read it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This book is good! Sure it had some flaws, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

⭐⭐⭐ – I rate a book three stars if… a) I enjoyed it. The story was soft and fun, but not impactful. b) It was okay. Didn’t like it, didn’t hate it either. It might have been a bit boring c) Was enjoyable, but there were too many flaws that I just couldn’t look past.

⭐⭐ – This book was unenjoyable and had too many flaws for me to rate it any higher. Or, it was boring and I didn’t like the characters. It may have simply not been for me. (A rare case of a 2 star rating is if I thought it was a too bizarre for my liking.)

⭐ – A book I rate one star was either… a) Discriminatory towards certain communities. b) Flat out boring and unoriginal. c) There were way too many flaws to look past.

That’s all for now, if you would like to request a review, take a look at my How To Request A Review post, and I will be more than happy to work with you! Have a fabulous day!

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