A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen is a wonderfully lite, confectionary tale that is the perfect pick-me-up for any day. Liza Yang is graduating high school and coming of age under the rigid direction of her Taiwanese mother who is determined to see Liza with a practical college degree and suitable boyfriend. In other words, an Asian American from the right family who checks all the right boxes; even if those are not the boxes Liza would check. Liza tries to walk the fine line between pleasing her parents and spreading her wings in hopes her parents will see that her true passion is found in the kitchen with her hands buried in dough. When Liza’s mother surreptitiously uses the Annual Ying and Yang Baking Contest as a Bachelorette style competition, the tension between mother and daughter reaches a new level. However, the heat really increases after James Wong, the hot but hard to read new guy in town, is announced as a contestant.
Jennifer Yen puts her own personal twist on the boy meets girl storyline by using an Asian American perspective. Her flawlessly created and plated storyline reveals that attraction, love, and the desire for self-determination are universal even though there might be cultural variations as to how they play out. I genuinely liked Liza and enjoyed her point of view as the connection to James starts to bubble and the tension with her well-meaning yet hyper-controlling mother comes to a boil. The icing on the cake, however, is the highly reputable, scholarship baking contest for high school students the family puts on annually. Liza’s mother is so obsessed with the “right” Asian boy, she covertly turns the contest into a Bachelorette competition, with some of the contestants painfully inept in a kitchen. Simply put, A Taste for Love is a really fun read.
Jennifer Yen has concocted a beautifully balanced story that is one part RomCom and another part coming of age under strict Asian parents. This combination, garnished with mouth-watering Asian dishes, Boba tea, and a twist of intrigue, is the perfect recipe for a delicious and satisfying read. It is sweet without being sappy, funny without being forced, and a book that should be on your TBR list for your next day at the park or beach.