Remember when I blogged a list of the books for teens tired of reading Shakespeare? Well, I should have also considered YA novels inspired by classic retellings. This is where A Taste For Love by Jennifer Yen comes in.
A Taste For Love is a pride and prejudice retelling with fla’va. I mean that in the most literal sense, of course.
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Liza Yang dreams of becoming a pastry chef, but her parents (mainly her mother) want her to earn a college degree and settle down with a nice Asian boy. Her mother’s rules for dating are even more specific; the boy must be tall, smart with the promise of a stable career, and Asian (preferable Tawainese). Liza dates whoever she wants, which then leads her mother to set her up on many disastrous dates.
However, when Liza meets James Wong, he’s an arrogant jerk who just happened to save her during a fight with her ex. Liza tries to outrun him but ends up bumping into James all over town and even out of town! She slowly begins to let her guard down around James, and a budding friendship blooms.
When Liza mom’s asks her to help judge their annual junior bake-off, Liza thinks nothing of it. But on the first day of the competition, Liza discovers that all the contestants meet her mother’s careful requirements. Not only is Liza judging the contestant’s baking, but she’s also judging their compatibility. However, Liza not going to star in her own dating show without s few tricks up her sleeve.
When I first spied the cover of a Taste For Love, I gasped and ordered it through my local library. This novel ended up being a cute love story with a lot of depth. This is an own voices novel and a retelling, but the two mend so seamlessly together it’s easy to forget it was inspired by Austen’s novel.
While Liza’s family is Taiwanese, her best friend Grace, is Filipino American. The two best friends live vastly different lifestyles with Grace having relaxed parents. Juxtaposed to these besties is their other friend Sarah who struggles in this novel with being culturally aware. Sarah slips up with some microaggression and when called out, promises to do better in the future. And she tries! I liked the development of Sarah’s character because she was a big reminder that not every culture is a monolith.
Liza’s family hails from Taiwan, and the restaurant they own is a half bakery half restaurant named Yin and Yang, inspired by both of her parent’s surnames. I thought this was super adorable, and it made me smile throughout the story.
There’s a scene where Liza’s bestie, Grace, is kissed by her sister’s boyfriend, Nathan. The scene irritated me because I interpreted it as sexual harassment but Eliza’s quick to explain to everyone in the story that it was a misunderstanding. In my eyes, this incident can be both, but given that Nathan was dating Liza’s sister when it happened, it shouldn’t have occurred, plus Grace never consented to the kiss. I wish the story was more clear on this incident as labeling it for what it was.
The last thing I wanted to touch upon, was how utterly cute the romance in this novel comes across. James and Liza are both bakers and Liza becomes easily flustered when James does something as simple as cutting a loaf of bread!
As you could guess by the cover, Liza drinks so much boba tea throughout this novel. I, of course, had to ask myself why I stopped drinking boba tea?
Hints of an eating disorder, some fat-shaming, microaggressions (but the ignorant character actively learns from it).
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