After her mother dies, Natalie returns home to her Chinatown neighborhood. She and her mother had drifted apart over the years and Natalie left on bad terms due to disagreements they had over Natalie’s career. She yearned to be a chef, like her grandmother, but her mother discounted her dreams. When Natalie discovers she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant, along with her special handwritten recipe book, she dreams about reopening the restaurant, but first, she has a challenge to complete. Natalie has to find three neighbors in need of something and fix three special dishes from the book to heal and help them. That’s where the magic happens. Natalie adds her own personal touches to her grandmother’s recipes but still stays true to her roots and culture, and these dishes transform those they were prepared for. I adore reading books focused around food, and bonus points if recipes are included! I’m also a huge fan of magical realism, which I was pleasantly surprised to encounter in this book as I hadn’t expected it when I read the synopsis!
Natalie has to deal with many mishaps and misunderstandings that could potentially be a threat to her restaurant’s success as well as her own happiness. This is just one of those books that, even through its sad parts, makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It was an enjoyable debut and I look forward to more from this author in the future!