NATALIE TAN’S BOOK OF LUCK & FORTUNE
By: Roselle Lim
Published: June 11, 2019
Sometimes, in my reading life, I need a palette cleanser. I need something that is light, fun, refreshing, and hopeful. When I was trying to choose my next read, this book seemed to be shouting “Pick me!” from my bursting bookshelves and I am so glad it did. It was just the light and wonderful story I needed.
Natalie Tan is a Chinese American raised by a single, agoraphobic mother. Once Natalie has the chance, she leaves home and doesn’t look back. She goes to culinary school and fails. So instead of returning home, she travels around the world, cooking and learning in kitchens all over the world. Until the day she gets a call that her mother has unexpectedly died.
It seems like this premise plays out in lots of books. The child who hasn’t been home for ages suddenly has to return to handle their parent’s affairs. I’ve read that dozens of times, but this one seemed different to me. I think part of it was the Chinese culture of taking care of each other in their tiny China Town community. The other part that worked for me was her desire to carry on her LaoLao’s (Grandmother’s) tradition of owning a restaurant.
As Natalie begins to make her LaoLao’s recipes, magic happens. Couples fall back in love and others become courageous. I had to put aside the magic piece of the story and just roll with it. It isn’t something I usually enjoy but it worked as part of the story, and part of the Chinese traditions.
Even though there were some sad and frustrating moments with Natalie, overall the story was one of joy and hope in finding connections with her past and her new purpose in life. The descriptions of food and recipes shared will make your mouth water and give you the courage to try making them yourself.
Roselle Lim was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Canada as a child. She lived in north Scarborough in a diverse, Asian neighborhood.
She found her love of writing by listening to her lola (paternal grandmother’s) stories about Filipino folktales. Growing up in a household where Chinese superstition mingled with Filipino Catholicism, she devoured books about mythology, which shaped the fantasies in her novels.
An artist by nature, she considers writing as “painting with words.”
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