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Published by Berkley on May 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Review Copy Provided By: Berkley
AMZ US B&N Apple Books
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Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
I was provided a review copy; this did not influence my opinion of the book.
“Girl loves boy loves girl”
When was the last time you were CONSUMED by a book? When the story was so overwhelmingly raw and beautiful and passionate? This story was EVERYTHING, you guys.
E V E R Y T H I N G!
And I can’t stop thinking about it!
Esme Tran lived in the slums of Vietnam. She worked hard to provide for her daughter, mother, and grandmother. She wanted more for her family and more for herself. So when presented with the opportunity to go to America, she knew she couldn’t turn it down. Even if her job was to convince a man to marry her, a man who was convinced he couldn’t love.
Hoang beautifully captured Esme’s pride and strength, and resounding drive. Drive to be more, drive to provide for her family and drive to rise from the circumstances she was in – at no fault of her own, she was there simply because she was born. I loved that even though she wanted so much to become a US citizen, she wasn’t willing to trade her pride, she wasn’t willing to trade her self-respect. She knew what she wanted, where she wanted to go, and she was determined to get there, in a way that would make her proud of herself, and prove to her daughter that you could be whatever you wanted to be.
Khai’s mother and sisters were all the women he thought he needed in his life. They constantly mothered him and made sure he was taken care of. He liked being alone. He liked his life. His days were scheduled down to the seconds and that provided comfort. He knew his mother wanted him to find a girl and get married, but Khai knew marriage wasn’t for him, people marry when they are in love, and Khai didn’t love.
Khai’s world was turned upside when Esme showed up on his doorstep. His mother’s attempt at an arranged marriage was surely going to be a failure, right? He just needed to convince everyone he was not capable of feeling, of loving, and send Esme back to Vietnam.
I cried tears for Khai. It was hard watching him struggle and view himself as a failure. Ever since childhood, he knew he was different — but different in a bad way. He didn’t think he could love, he thought he had a heart of stone. GAH, my heart hurt so much reading how he viewed himself. Those passages were difficult for me to read. But thankfully, Helen Hoang took us on his journey of personal growth. She exquisitely showed him learning to accept that he was more than how others viewed him and that he was capable of emotion and happiness.
Esme and Quan were so good for Khai, they helped him understand his feelings, they helped him see his worth.
Esme accepted him for who he was. She loved him and despite their differences, she willingly gave him what he needed.
“When she got to number eight, she grabbed Khai’s far arm and wrapped it around her middle so he was hugging her, and he smiled.
He liked this, the snuggling, her smiles, the fact that she helped him to be there for her. He hadn’t known she needed to be hugged, and it was immensely freeing that instead of getting angry with him or sad, she communicated and showed him what to do.”
Quan was Khai’s sounding board, his voice of reason and the one Khai went to for advice. Quan challenged him at every turn. He refused to allow Khai to believe he was anything but good and not just capable of love, but deserving of it, too!
“I told her I don’t love her back”
“That’s bullshit,” Quan exploded. “What the f*ck?”
“I said it because it’s true,” he said.
“You’re crazy in love with her. Just look at you,” Quan said, waving his hands at Khai like it was obvious.
“I. Am. Not,’ Khai bit out.
“The f*ck you’re not. You’re an all-or-nothing guy, so we knew the first girl to catch your attention would be the one. Esme is your ‘one’ Khai.”
THE BRIDE TEST was stunning and beautiful and endearing. It held so much emotion and passion within its pages. This will be a book I reread often.
Helen Hoang is not a one-hit-wonder! I adored her debut, ‘The Kiss Quotient’, it was one of my favorite books last year and there’s no doubt, THE BRIDE TEST will make the list this year!