Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Books I've read Cafe Con Lychee


I enjoyed this author's previous book, so I thought I'd give this one a go too.

Set in a Vermont town, it is the love story between two boys who start the book as bitter rivals due to their parents' having competing businesses.  When a new fusion cafe opens in town and business at both older stores drops, they band together to try and save their family businesses.  And along the way, they fall in love.  But the path of true love never runs smoothly, does it?

This is a book that's filled with diverse characters.  The two main characters, Theo and Gabi, are Chinese/Japanese and Puerto Rican respectively.  And of course, gay.  Theo is out and his parents seem to accept him even if his extended family don't, but Gabi isn't and doesn't think he ever will be because his parents are so actively homophobic.

Theo thinks he's a failure and will never live up to his older brother's achievements.  Gabi wants to dance but can't tell his parents because they consider dancing effeminate and not something a boy should want to do.  So he plays soccer, despite being terrible at it, to the point he's always running into Theo, the star of the team, on the field.  And when one of these collisions leads to Theo spraining a wrist, Gabi gets roped into helping him with his covert operation to try and save his parents' shop.

There's nothing particularly new or different about this book.  It's a romance and follows the typical path of a romance novel with all the misunderstandings, arguments and everything that come along with it.  It's a quick and easy read and there's nothing offensive or terrible about it.  I just felt a little like it was trying too hard to be relevant with its diverse cast of characters whose backgrounds and cultural differences never really played a part in the story.  I felt like the character were that way more to tick diversity boxes than for any real story reason.  Which is something I'm noticing more and more as publishing tries to look less white...

There is nothing at all wrong with this book.  It's fun and sweet and easy to read. I enjoyed it, but the self-consciously diverse characters did stick out to me.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Sometimes bitter rivalries can brew something sweet

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

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