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Not to be Overlooked

By Nayisha Patel and Gurnish Kaur


Not To Be Overlooked introduces a variety of wonderful but lesser-known books to assist readers in finding their next great reads. This week’s column covers a review of A Pho Love Story by Loan Le and These are the Words by Nikita Gill.


A Pho Love Story by Loan Le


A Pho Love Story is a heart-warming and delightful romance novel that explores the relationship between two Vietnamese-American teenagers, Bao Nguyen and Linh Mai. The novel centres around their family-owned pho restaurants and the longstanding feud between their families, as well as their personal struggles to navigate their cultural identity and pursue their dreams.


The characters in A Pho Love Story are well-developed and relatable. Bao and Linh are both ambitious and passionate about their future careers, but they also face familial pressure and cultural expectations that make their journeys difficult. The author does an excellent job of capturing the nuances of Vietnamese-American culture and the challenges that come with navigating the intersection of two different worlds.


One of the most striking aspects of the novel is the vivid and evocative descriptions of food. As Bao and Linh work in their respective family's pho restaurants, the reader is treated to mouth-watering descriptions of the fragrant and flavourful dishes. The food also serves as a metaphor for the complex relationships between the characters and the traditions that bind them together. The romance between Bao and Linh is sweet and charming, and their banter is delightful. However, their relationship is not without its obstacles, as they must navigate the deep-seated animosity between their families and confront their own fears and doubts.

I liked how Le explained the significance and the reasons why immigrant parents are so determined that their children choose a particular career path over others. Vietnamese-North Americans will likely relate to this story the most because it is filled with Vietnamese words and family experiences. There is a valid reason why this story is longer than the average young adult (YA) book. Le provides the background information required for Bao and Linh's adventures throughout the book. This has elements of a YA romance, but it's not a fully developed romance narrative if that's what you're looking for. I wholeheartedly recommend this book since it deals with subjects like following your aspirations, discovering who you are, and juggling your past with the expectations of your family.


Overall, A Pho Love Story is a beautifully written and engaging novel that will leave readers feeling satisfied and uplifted. Loan Le's debut novel is a triumph, and she is sure to become a prominent voice in the world of contemporary romance.


These are The Words by Nikita Gill


In light of International Women’s Day, I have chosen to highlight the works of British-Indian poet, Nikita Gill. Shortlisted for the Goodreads Choice Awards twice, Nikita Gill has published eight volumes of poetry. I have chosen to focus on Gill’s debut YA poetry collection, These are The Words. This poetry collection is beautifully crafted and explores the love of womanhood, sisterhood, girlhood and the overall togetherness that women feel for each other.


Nikita Gill’s poetry is simplistically layered. She uses the cycle of seasons, astrology and the gift of nature to express the feeling of losing love, her sexuality and being a woman. I personally love the use of nature symbolism in poetry.


Nikita Gill also touches on being a South Asian girl in a society that criticises the colour of your skin but also has deep-rooted love fabricated in culture and family. While reading this collection of poems I found myself resonating with poems such as “An Ode To The Aunties,” “The Lesson” and “Your Name” deeply. A line from “Your Name” that will stick with me forever and that I think anyone with an ethnic name should hear is:


Your name is still a spell before he spoke it

Even after him,

All you must do

Is pronounce it with magic


Gill’s poetry is accessible and definitely fits into the YA category. Her words are powerful yet delicate. The themes of love, heartbreak and womanhood are strong. These are The Words is a collection of poems that spread the energy of an older sister. Gill’s poetry takes you on a journey to a safe and vulnerable place. It is important for young women to read Gill’s poetry because she writes what she wished someone would have told her. Gill writes for girlhood and her words give an empowering energy that sometimes we forget.


She explores different types of love whether they be romantic, platonic, friendship or self-love. One line that sums up the feeling of Nikita Gill’s poetry is:


You’ll know it is love, the way

your heart knows the moon


These are The Words is the “Hymn for The Girls that Come After Us.”

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