FICTION

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

Berkley. Jun. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781984803252. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781984803269. F
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DEBUT After a seven-year absence, Natalie Tan is returning home to San Francisco's Chinatown following her mother's death. She and her mom were estranged because Natalie wanted to be a chef like her departed laolao (grandmother) and her ma-ma objected. In addition to grieving for her mother, Natalie is shocked by Chinatown's shabbiness and the shuttered houses, stores, and restaurants. After moving back to her old home, she learns she's inherited her grandmother's restaurant and treasured cookbook. As she gets reacquainted with her neighbors, she realizes how much they helped her agoraphobic ma-ma. Natalie begins to dream about reopening laolao's restaurant. However, a local fortune-teller tells her she must prepare three of her grandmother's recipes and serve them to troubled neighbors if she is to succeed. Recipes are supplemented with charming asides and comments from Natalie: "The symphony of textures sang on my tongue." A sweet romance with a man who follows the enticing aromas into her not-yet-open restaurant adds warmth.
VERDICT Foodies and those who enjoy mother-daughter sagas will most appreciate.

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