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Soy Sauce for Beginners

av Kirstin Chen

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
18815147,705 (3.26)6
Gretchen Lin leaves behind a floundering marriage to return to her Singapore home, where she confronts the challenges of her mother's alcoholism and her father's artisanal soy sauce business before being pulled into a family controversy.
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Visa 1-5 av 15 (nästa | visa alla)
A reasonably paced novel of a young woman (Gretchen Lin, the protagonist) who returns to her family in Singapore--and by extension the family business she never intended to join--after her marriage in the US fails. The Lins are both super-traditional and their own animal, with an alcoholic mother in denial and nakedly ambitious cousins among the characters. When Gretchen's best friend from college moves to Singapore and also gets a job with the Lins, the stage is set for the power struggle to control the future of the soy sauce-making corporation. Some of the characters and the ultimate storyline about the company felt kind of predictable, but that at least made this a fast read. ( )
  jonerthon | Jan 3, 2021 |
Kristin Chen's debut novel hits all the right notes out of the gate. I wish that "Crazy Rich Asians" had taken a page out of her book. Ms. Chen ensures that you get fully immersed in Singapore by following only one protagonist, Gretchen Lin. We do get some of the "crazy rich Asians" elements when Ms. Chen explains about how much some of her friends and family buy on designer wear or drop money at the latest nightclubs. However, these are more asides than major plot points and you don't find yourself getting bored or frustrated.

I loved that the character of Gretchen is struggling with what to do in her life after a surprising announcement from her husband. Fleeing San Francisco for Singapore we have Gretchen returning to work in her family's soy sauce factory. Ms. Lin then provides the readers with detailed explanations on how "real" soy sauce is prepared. Apparently the soy sauce I have dunked my sushi in all of these years is highly inferior stuff. It was quite interesting to hear how long it takes to make really good soy sauce and that you can actually cook meat with it as well, also drink it (which I would probably still never do).

Also though I found Gretchen to be aggravating at times when it came to her facing what was really going on in her life with her family, her family business, her husband she finally does end up coming to peace on what she needs to do.

Ms. Lin is able to immerse the reader in this novel in such a way that I felt as if I was along with Gretchen smelling soybeans, feeling the moist heat in Singapore, and the air in San Francisco.

My only minor quibble is that sometimes characters speak in Slingish, Chinese, Maylay, etc. I wish that it had been explained in some way. I was able to get the gist a few times but some of the sentences I had no idea what a person was trying to say.

I look forward to reading future books by Ms. Chen in the future. I 100% recommend this novel. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This was a beautiful book about dreams, family, and relationships. It was easy to read but sharp with pain at times. ( )
  mmaestiho | Sep 20, 2018 |
Fluffy read with some interesting info about soy sauce. Selfish, self-centered protagonist makes it hard to care what happens to her. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Received for free via the Kindle First program last December, but didn't get around to reading until today. A relatively short read (accidentally binged it in one day whoops), I actually really liked it. I was expecting a fluffier chic-lit, but as someone who doesn't know what she wants to do in life (and with the 30s looming on the distant horizon), Gretchen's indecision on whether to finish her music degree or withdraw and helm the family company really resonated for me. And unlike a puff book, there isn't really a neat resolution at the end which is nice.

I also liked the food descriptions- somewhat reminded of [a:Kevin Kwan|634694|Kevin Kwan|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1412808034p2/634694.jpg]'s [b:Crazy Rich Asians|16085481|Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians #1)|Kevin Kwan|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364852559s/16085481.jpg|21571970] which also takes place in Singapore, but in the world of old money (which is almost another planet entirely). ( )
  Daumari | Dec 30, 2017 |
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These are some of my favorite smells: toasting bagel, freshly cut figs, the bergamot in good Earl Grey tea, a jar of whole soybeens slowly turning beneath a tropical sun.
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Gretchen Lin leaves behind a floundering marriage to return to her Singapore home, where she confronts the challenges of her mother's alcoholism and her father's artisanal soy sauce business before being pulled into a family controversy.

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