The spin off to Helen Hoang’s “The Kiss Quotient” tells the story of Khai, Michael’s cousin, who has autism and has never had a girlfriend.
Khai’s everyday routine is to eat a protein bar for breakfast, run to his office, and keep his garden unkempt to annoy his neighbor. Khai likes his life but his Mom thinks Khai is lonely and old enough to be married, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. Khai’s mother, Co, fly’s to Vietnam and makes a deal with My Ngoc Tran, who later changes her name to Esme, one summer in California to fall in love with her son. If the two are incompatible Esme is free to fly home, but Co knows they will work.
I was a little hesitant to read this book because how often do you hear the story of someone from aboard coming to the U.S to marry an American in order to secure residency status? Often. It feels icky to reduce the immigrant experience to this and because this same story was the main plot point for this novel I was unsure. Although, after reading the Kiss Quotient I had a change of heart. I love Hoang’s writing style and I was eager to read Khai’s story.
Esme may come to the U.S with the intention to gain a residency status but that changes when she falls in love with Khai. Additionally, Esme has a love for learning and enrolls into night school to get a GED. Soon Esme begins to see a future where she can gain temporary residency as a student. By adding Esme’s ambition to her character Hoang adds this layer to the immigrant experience that is often disregarded and ignored. That there is more to someone than people think.
What I really enjoyed about this story was that complexity of both characters. Khai convinced himself a long time ago that he is unable to love someone however, he is willing to marry Esme so that she can gain citizenship if that is what she truly desires. In reality, Khai is secretly in love with her, he just has not admitted it to himself. On the other hand, Esme is driven by the desire to go to University because some colleges will pay for international student’s family members to come to the U.S and Esme really wants to get her family out of poverty.
One of my favorite scenes in this book occurs when Esme visits 99 Ranch market for the first time. Just by visiting this grocery store Esme is reminded of her home. I think this scene is beautiful because it ties together food and culture: it reminds us that places like the grocery store serve as a time capsule of home.
Overall, I give the Bride test 5 stars and would recommend it for fans of romance novels or anyone who is looking for diverse characters in a novel. This book is also spicy and we have a few mature scenes but in my opinion there are way more sex scenes in the Kiss Quotient.
Until next time continue living in Libros,