Genres: Romance, Contemporary
I have received this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
In The Bride Test, Khai believes his autism makes him incapable of love and has never tried dating, and now that he’s 26, his mom decided it was time for him to marry. In Vietnam, Esme accepts a deal she never thought she would in her life: move to the United States for the Summer to try to seduce a handsome man she never met in her life into marrying her. Leaving her daughter Jade behind will be one of the most difficult things she’ll have to do, but this might be the break her family has been waiting for, and might give her a chance to find her father.
This was CUTE and I smiled a lot reading it. I love how strong and practical Esme is, how she is kind and giving and hard-working. And Khai is so precious – oh my gosh I wanted to either shake him out of his stupidity or hug him, all the time. They’re lovely. I also absolutely love that it’s centered on a Vietnamese woman trying to give her family the best shot at success and happiness she’s got without sacrificing her heart and morals. It gave the story something so unique.
I wish there had been more of her daughter in the story, as she seemed so central in the beginning but we don’t actually get a lot of her – I wanted to see her and Khai interact and become familiar with each other. I also found a lot of scenes cringey – but in a rom com kind of way, not in a bad way. This was super sweet and surprisingly emotional.
I cannot speak much for the autism representation, but since the author’s father is autistic, and she herself is in the spectrum, I will say it’s probably quite accurate. I love how this book makes an autistic grownup someone you can fall in love with – a lot of stories with autistic people are about children or strange people who are geniuses. I love that yes, he was smart, but mostly he was himself, a person and not a “condition”.
I know it’s been a bit of a controversial topic to have books so centered around food when they’re about immigrants, but to be honest, this is part of what charmed me about this book. And as an immigrant myself, I love talking about food and cooking and experimenting and (obviously) eating. I find comfort in food and it feels a little like my home country, too. So I love it when there is lots of food in a story, it gives me an extra cozy feel to it. I am now so hungry for Vietnamese food, though.
And a little bit in love with both characters, too.