Book Review & Aesthetic: A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

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Title: A Pho Love Story
Author: Loan Le
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Publication date: February 9th 2021
Genre: YA Romantic Comedy, Culinary Romance

Diversity Representation: Vietnamese protagonists, Vietnamese author

Content Warnings: racism, generational trauma, death of a loved one, refugee experience, grief

This was yet another buddy read with Sarah at Girl on Books! We read this basically completely in sync, which was so much fun! Reading can totally be a social activity! We both were totally obsessed and screaming the entire time. This book is truly just so cute! Check out her review here!

Sweet, star-crossed, delicious, rivals to lovers, family rivalry & squee worthy!

What an incredible book! A Pho Love Story was way better than I thought it was going to be (not that I thought it would be bad!). It was just so good. Right from the beginning I was drawn in, and the entire time I was just yelling back and forth with Sarah about how cute it was! A Vietnamese young adult romance?! Count me IN.

Quick book summary: A Pho Love Story follows Linh and Bảo, two second generation Vietnamese American teens, whose parents own competing pho restaurants. Though they both attend the same school, they have hardly ever spoken, because of the depth of the feud between their parents. Until one day, Linh is overwhelmed at the restaurant and Bảo secretly helps out, starting a Romeo and Juliet inspired romance story.

A Pho Love Story was the first time that I have ever read this much Vietnamese representation in a book! Not only written by a Vietnamese author, but also has a full Vietnamese cast. The whole thing was unapologetically Vietnamese. To say that meant a lot to me is an understatement. This book was written for me. The food, the language, the customs, it was all there. Loan Le had this amazing way of writing words in Vietnamese, and helping us understand what they were saying without having to directly translate the entire thing. It allowed the text to flow so much better, while retaining the language. It was absolutely stunning.

As for the story, it was incredibly sweet at every point. The romance was absolutely adorable. There were so many little moments that literally gave me butterflies. I was almost falling in love with Bảo too (alright, “almost” is a bit of a stretch. I was definitely falling in love with Bảo). I loved everyone pushing them together, I loved the emotional fight against telling their parents, I loved the acts of kindness between the two. It was just… Aaaaah, all of it was so sweet. I couldn’t help but smiling at the pages the entire time.

I would be lying to you if I said that this book didn’t make me cry. I was absolutely emotional reading it. I cried tears of joy, and I cried tears of grief. Happiness in seeing myself in this book, and grief in what our parents went through to provide a better life for us. Grief in being a child of immigrants and not being as close to our culture.

A Pho Love Story is absolutely stunning. Every moment of reading about Vietnamese food or reading a Vietnamese word was dear to my heart. This book will make you hungry, it will give you butterflies, and it will make your heart ache. It was truly incredible.

I’m always on the look out for Southeast Asian authors, and I’m so excited to be finding more of them. Though there still isn’t a lot, I just wanted to write a little note about how incredibly important these books are to me. While my heritage may be half Vietnamese and a little Chinese, I grew up with my white mom, who had the privilege of never having to worry about discovering her identity. Unfortunately, because of that, I never had anyone to help me navigate searching for my own identity. I didn’t even know I was allowed to ask.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say in sharing that is that books like this are so important for kids who grew up like me. Without a doubt this book is probably more valuable to kids who grew up with parents exactly like Linh and Bảo’s, people’s stories are the only way for me to learn about my identity as well. And for that I am so grateful to Loan Le for writing an incredible book with representation that matters to me. This is one of my new favorite books.

I feel like there were just so many things that I could add to this aesthetic board, I just couldn’t choose. This book has such a perfect Orange County young adult vibe, and I totally know what that is! Please enjoy the aesthetic board for A Pho Love Story by Loan Le!

Loan Le is the author of A Phở Love Story, a YA rom-com that earned praise from NPR, POPSUGAR, Bustle, and BuzzfeedShe holds an MFA degree in fiction from Fairfield University, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree. A Pushcart Prize-nominated writer, Loan has had her short stories appear in CRAFT LiteraryMud Season Review, and more. She is an editor at Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster adult imprint. When she’s not writing young adult novels, she’s writing ghostly, dark adult fiction, watching slow-burn K-Dramas, and listening to BTS. Visit her website at and find her on Twitter @loanloan and Instagram @loanloanle.

What was the last Vietnamese own voices book that you’ve read? Do you have any recommendations for me? Do you love books about food as much as I do? What is your favorite kind of pho?

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Wow a Romeo & Juliet-inspired romance!? With Vietnamese characters!?

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