Welcome to Foxy Blogs. I’m featuring Helen Hoang and her book The Bride Test. She has written 2 of my favorite books: The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test. I loved both books so much that this summer while on a 7,000-mile road trip I had my husband listen to them with me. In 2018 when The Kiss Quotient was released I predicted it would be Goodreads Best Of Award for a debut author. I was only half right it did win that year but in a different category – romance.
I love both of her books and would recommend either of them to other readers. Please take a moment and check out her Amazon page.
From her blog bio: Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since.
In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT.
She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.
The Meet Your Next #OwnVoices tour highlights books that cover marginalized groups. The Own Voices hashtag was created by Corinne Duyvis to highlight books that are written by an author that shares a marginalized identity with the character. A marginalized group covers everything from race, sexuality, disability, etc.
The Bride Test is a romantic novel about love and the ability of the heart to feel love.
Khai’s mother has taken upon herself to find a wife for her son. At the rate he’s going he’s never going to get married. He’s autistic and because he doesn’t react like everyone else he has taken that to mean he can’t feel emotions like sadness or love. Convinced he lacks in those emotions he decides he shouldn’t be in a romantic relationship.
Khai’s mother has traveled to Vietnam to find the perfect girl for her youngest child. She chooses Esme who is biracial (Vietnamese and white). Esme lives with her young daughter, mother, and grandmother. In their female-centered family, Esme is a hard worker who helps support them.
Khai’s mother makes her an offer to Esme that is hard to refuse. Spend the summer in America winning her son’s heart and if that happens she can live happily ever after with him. If not she can return home to her family.
Esme is conflicted on this prospect but in the end, she decides to risk her summer away from home in hopes of finding a better life for her and her daughter.
The author’s note at the end the book caught my attention. Ms. Hoang tells the story of her mother who fled to the United States after the Vietnam War as a war refugee. Her mother was her hero, idol, and role model. When she started writing about Esme she felt something was off and began reexamining what wasn’t working.
“A funny thing happened as I tried to write that story. Esme kept outshining the character meant to be Khai’s true love. Esme was brave, she was fighting for a new life for herself and her loved ones in every way she could. She had reasons, she had depth, but she also had a striking vulnerability. All of her “drawbacks” were not due to her character. They were things beyond her control: her origin, her education level, her lack of wealth, the language she spoke–things that shouldn’t matter when determining the value of a person (if that can even be done). It was impossible not to love her. After the first chapter, I stopped writing.
I asked myself why I’d automatically decided my heroine had to be “Westernized.” Why wouldn’t she have an accent, have less education, and be culturally awkward? The person I respect most in the entire world is just like that. After careful self-analysis, I realized I’d been subconsciously trying to make my work socially acceptable, which was completely unacceptable to me as the daughter of an immigrant. The book had to be reconceptualized. Not only did Esme deserve center stage, but I needed to tell her story. For me. And for my mom.”
The character was reworked to represent Ms. Hoang’s mother and the struggles she faced in a new country where she didn’t speak the language or even looked like the majority of the people she encountered. After reading the book twice I can’t even image Esme as anything but the brave immigrant who took a chance and came to America.
I’ve included an interview Ms. Hoang did with NPR.