Book Review: Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirstin Chen

“Gretchen Lin, adrift at the age of thirty, leaves her floundering marriage in San Francisco to move back to her childhood home in Singapore and immediately finds herself face-to-face with the twin headaches she’s avoided her entire adult life: her mother’s drinking problem and the machinations of her father’s artisanal soy sauce business.

In the midst of increasing pressure from her father to remain permanently in Singapore—and pressure from her mother to do just the opposite—Gretchen must decide whether she will return to her marriage and her graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory, or sacrifice everything and join her family’s crusade to spread artisanal soy sauce to the world.”

I downloaded this book on Kindle Unlimited without really thinking much about it. It’s not the kind of book I’d usually pick up but this book was pleasantly surprising.

Soy Sauce for Beginners follows Gretchen who returns to Singapore and faces some important life decisions. As the reader, we get to follow Gretchen through her decisions and experiences.

This book was labeled as “women’s fiction” but it’s so much more than that. Although I was unsure how well I would be able to relate to a Singaporean woman who is trying to live in two cultures, I found myself quite liking the main character. Gretchen starts off as a rather petty and childish character but we see her grow as a person and discover herself and the things that she enjoys.

Each character in this book brings something new to the story. Not all the characters are likeable but they are all complex and relatable in their own way. One of my favourite characters was Gretchen’s mother. She was a devoted mother but clearly had her own faults. I do enjoy reading a book where the characters aren’t perfect. They help create a sense that the book is closer to reality. After all, no one is perfect.

It would be criminal for me to write this review and not talk about the food descriptions. This book has a lot of food mentions (as if that’s not obvious from the title) and all of them make my tummy rumble. I found myself craving asian cuisine the whole time I was reading.

This book wasn’t the most amazing book in the world, but it’s definitely a book I’d recommend.

My rating: ★★★☆☆

Find this book using my affiliate link over on Amazon. Thank you for supporting this blog.

Have you read Soy sauce For Beginners? If you did, what did you think? Do you have any book recommendations for me that sound similar?

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