Summer beckons a reading list that is as light, fun and feel-good as the season itself. Roselle Lim’s Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune definitely fits that need. Set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Lim’s debut is the story of 20-something Natalie, who has just returned home to the worst news possible: the unexpected passing of her mother, Miranda. Her shock and sadness are compounded by the guilt of parting ways seven years ago over a disagreement that now seems extraneous.
Natalie had wanted to become a chef, a profession that Miranda profoundly opposed even though her own mother had once owned the most famous restaurant in all of Chinatown. But Natalie found it hard to comply with her mother’s wishes; she was young and full of dreams. So for Natalie, there was no other choice but to leave her mother and Chinatown. Seven years later, here she stands in her childhood apartment, without a mother and without the culinary degree that was more elusive than she had assumed. Sharing Natalie’s bad luck is the neighborhood itself, with its failing businesses and gentrification.
But this is a story of luck and fortune, so it isn’t long before Natalie is given a chance to fix it all. She inherits her grandmother’s restaurant, a space boarded up under the very apartment where she grew up, along with a surprising heirloom from her mother: her grandmother’s cookbook, which reads more like a book of spells than recipes. Together they reveal the secrets of the past and the possibility of what the future might hold. Will this be enough to breathe life back into Natalie’s heart and her neighborhood?
Lim’s magical storytelling, excellent cast of supporting characters and mouth-watering recipes make this book a must for your summer reading list.