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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Back to the Good Fortune Diner by Vicki Essex

After being evicted and fired, Tiffany is back home in tiny Everville. She's mortified to be working at her family's diner again, and desperate to pay off her debt and get back to her dream life in publishing. To that end, she takes a side job tutoring the son of the man she tutored in high school. The man she still has a crush on, of course. Chris is determined that his son not be stuck on the farm like he was, and to get away he will need a college education, so when he finds out Tiffany is back in town, he immediately runs her down and begs her to tutor Simon.  Spending time with Tiffany again makes him realize how little he knew her back in high school, and he's suddenly very interested in getting to know her better. But what will happen when Tiffany finally is back on her feet?

Back to the Good Fortune Diner has a great premise. It's not really a reunion story, as they were never even friends, let alone a couple, and it's not a story of complete strangers either. In the introduction, the author explains that she has the same Chinese- American heritage as Tiffany, and that she wanted to write a story from that perspective as well. I thought both of these things would be fascinating. Unfortunately, I was wrong on both counts. It wasn't completely awful, but there's really no part of it that I'd recommend to anyone else.

First, the romance. Tiffany has a huge crush on Chris, and always has. She's completely unable to even look at him, let alone talk to him, without being speechless at how incredibly HOT he is. Every. Single. Time.  There's no past history basis for this- Chris wasn't mean to her in high school, but he didn't see her as a person either, and he wasn't a hero for any other reason.  He's just hot. Oooo-kay then!  About midway through the novel, Chris realizes he never gave her a chance to have a personality in high school, so he asks her out to dinner. This is a bit more believable, but honestly, I didn't really see them getting to know each other now either. They just suddenly become a Thing. And the entire time Tiffany is still struck dumb by his beauty. I never saw a progression of romance, or a falling in love, or even a sexual tension that went both ways. Having sex does not a romance make.

Second, the cultural aspect. I'm from South Dakota by way of Alabama. I don't have a ton of experience with different cultures beyond knowing the stereotypes. I could have written this. There wasn't one part of Tiffany's experience growing up Chinese-American that I found to be surprising or illuminating. I don't want to cast doubts on the author's upbringing, but honestly, it was just like she included all the stereotypes and called it good. Perhaps, as a white person, I shouldn't even go here, and I wouldn't mention it if SHE hadn't mentioned it first, you know? Anyway.

As a whole, just skip this one.

Disclosure: I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Sounds cheesy... especially considering it is all based on how hot he is.. was it written by a high schooler?? (harsh. sorry.. no, not sorry.)

  2. I can always count on you for an honest review! I'm going to have to pass on this one but I'm planning on reading A Scandalous Proposal (recommended by you) next after I finish Gone Girl :)


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