The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Published May 7th, 2019 by Berkley
Paperback, 320 pages
I received a copy of The Bride Test for review.
The Bride Test is the story of Khai (or Khi) and Esme (or M). The name Khai might be familiar to you if you read The Kiss Quotient (if you haven’t, go do it now. I’ll wait). Michael from TKQ is Khai’s cousin and the brother of his best friend/cousin Quan. Like Stella from TKQ, Khai has Autism Spectrum Disorder*. He likes to keep things a specific way and doesn’t enjoy social situations. Because of this, his mother thinks he may not find a bride on his own and she wants him to have someone.
While Khai’s mother is in Viet Nam, she finds someone she thinks would be a good match for Khai. Her name is M. She is a cleaner and country girl living in a slum with her mother, grandmother, and daughter. M wants to be able to offer her daughter more opportunities than she had. So, M agrees. She chooses an American name, Esme, and goes to San Francisco for the summer to seduce Khai.
When they find out about their mother’s plan, Khai and Quan think it’s bananas. Not only does their mother want Khai to ultimately marry this woman, she wants her to live with Khai for the summer. Khai decidedly does not like the idea of someone invading his space. But he agrees, because he would do anything for his mother. She gives him until August 7th to decide whether he wants to marry Esme or she’ll go home to Viet Nam.
Khai’s mother and Esme have their work cut out for them. But… maybe it won’t be so hard after all? And maybe Khai will come to see Esme not as an invader but a welcome addition? Who’s to say! You’ll have to read it to find out.
Like I said, I devoured this book! I liked it just as much as The Kiss Quotient (maybe even more?)! I’ve been reading and seeing more stories about different cultures and the way they approach marriage and relationships lately. Like, in When Dimple Met Rishi, The Matchmaker’s List, Crazy Rich Asians, etc. It’s so interesting to see the complexities of different cultures, especially when they mix, even clash, with others. I love it.
I loved being in Esme’s perspective and seeing what America looked like through her eyes. When she comes to San Franscisco, she doesn’t know anyone and barely speaks any English. The customs are different, shops are different, the food is different, transportation is different… Everything is different. Seeing that through her perspective was fascinating and eye opening.
I similarly loved reading from Khai’s perspective. As with The Kiss Quotient, one of the main POVs is that of an Autistic character (and it’s #ownvoices!). Being in Khai’s head, seeing his logic, his approach, what’s going on in his mind during interactions is so interesting. The way he thinks and feels is different than me (and probably you) and it’s so refreshing to get a peek into his mind.
I could not put this book down. It’s sweet, sexy, and fun—but also touches on serious topics like immigration, education, neurodiversity, and grief. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it. Just a note: This book has much less sex in it than The Kiss Quotient. If that was something you were looking for, sorry, this one is more on the sweet side. And if that held you back a bit with TKQ, you’ll be good with this one!
Looking for more contemporary romance? Check out these ones! What are your favourites?
*Note: This is how Khai describes himself in the book, so that’s how I described him here. However, according to an Autistic book blogger (Becca’s Book Realm, check it out!), Autistic people generally prefer to be called Autistic rather than someone with Autism. Try to make sure you’re always referring to someone the way they want to be referred to!*