I read Kirstin Chen’s novel Soy Sauce for Beginners back in May but reviewed it for you!
May was a travel heavy month with Book Expo America and all. I received a copy through the Amazon Prime Kindle First program, but ending up purchasing the audiobook at a really good price. The audiobook worked out perfectly with my busy travel schedule.
Tip: If you buy ebooks via Amazon, they offer you a deal on the audiobook version of it. You can search for your Kindle books and audiobook matches on the website. Sometimes I find matches for only $1.99.
Alright, back to my review of Soy Sauce for Beginners read by Nancy Wu.
As an Asian American, I’m partial to soy sauce and that’s why the I picked up the book. Running away from her failed marriage, Gretchen Lin flees San Francisco and returns to her childhood home in Singapore. To keep busy, she temps at Lin’s Soy Sauce, a company that her grandfather started. She learns that her mother is sicker than she let on. The steadfast company has been rocked by a scandal, thanks to her cousin Cal.
Soon she finds herself embroiled in family and business politics. Returning home didn’t provide her with the stability she needed. As she navigates the delicate balance between her life in the United States and family loyalty, Gretchen discovers more about herself than she expected.
The book started off slow for me, but I’m glad I powered on. Nancy Wu’s voice was just soothing enough so Gretchen didn’t come off so whiny. As far as privileges go, Gretchen had great opportunities. Her family had money. She attended an Ivy League college and her friends were part of the Singapore elite (with parties to match).
What I enjoyed most about the book was the way Chen handled the nuances between that oh so common filial piety in Asian families without turning it into a trope. There’s also a non-traditional push and pull between Gretchen and her mother about her career choices.
As a bonus, I learned a lot about how soy sauce is made. I’m feeling inspired to look for a bottle of high end soy sauce to add to my pantry.
I’m glad to see diverse books like Soy Sauce for Beginners where the plotline isn’t driven by race or culture.
You should check it out!