True To You

By Liwen Y. Ho

By Liwen Y. Ho

First of all, this book has an awesome cover. Its very cute and fits the book perfectly. True To You is a novella about love, two kinds of love actually; the prearranged love and the coincidental love. Melanie and Melvin are going to get married soon, two well-accomplished young adults who’ve been put together by their families. That’s right, a prearranged marriage. That may sound odd for a modern day story but the characters are Christian Chinese Americans so that’s to be expected in a family that still follows the stickler portion of their culture.

The relationship between Melvin and Melanie isn’t bad, Melvin actually adores his new fiancée—in fact, he always has since they first met in medical school five years ago. Unfortunately, and this is where the story gets interesting, Melanie doesn’t feel the same way. Its not that she hates Melvin, she just doesn’t like him that way. She does try to be fair and give the engagement a shot but after meeting a hunky bachelor in the store one afternoon, Melanie becomes all too aware that an arranged marriage is NOT for her. Forget tradition, this girl wants love and she wants it now. But then, what 26-year-old still living with mom and dad doesn’t?

You can imagine the rest of the story from there, I don’t want to spoil too much but I will say that there are many elements brought up along this short journey. There’s religion, education, even a bit of racism. Basically all the things you can expect from a sheltered family who practically forbids dating outside of their race. I very much enjoyed the story and I would recommend it to readers of all ages and religious backgrounds. It doesn’t give you that passionate oomph you might be looking for in most romances but it is sweet and offers an alternative side of romance that you might enjoy if you want to keep things clean.

One of the things I liked about this story was that it was full of minority characters. Melanie was Chinese while her second love interest, Ben was an all American kind of guy. Chiseled jaw, great height, a real man. But there was always that cultural element that reminded us of our main characters and their national background. This is my biggest compliment and complaint at the same time.

While I love books with minority leads, ESPECIALLY biracial couples, I do not like being reminded of their race every other page. This is something that I notice is quite common in books with Asian leads. Every other page there is some sort of reminder of their skin color or their jet black hair or their language or their food or their style of dress. It gets to a point where there is SO much detail about their CULTURE that there is hardly much writing done on the actual STORY. I just want to scream; I get it! You’re Asian! Now tell the story!

Maybe I feel annoyed because I’m actually well acquainted with many Asian cultures. I myself attended a Chinese Christian church for over a year, yes I was the ONLY one there who wasn’t Asian. I can name over 100 different Japanese shows, dozens of Korean dramas, and I can probably go toe to toe with a Vietnamese cook. So seeing all these details just gets in the way for me because I already know these things.

I also find it irritating that Asian leads tend to be the same; smart, overachievers, ridiculously sheltered, ridiculously innocent, and ridiculously naïve. I dare Asian authors to write a book about a promiscuous Asian who curses like a sailor. Give me something I’ve never seen before! So far Park from Eleanor and Park is the only Asian character who isn’t completely stereotypical and that might be because he was only half Korean. But hey, I haven’t read EVERY book with an Asian lead so maybe the novel I’m looking for is around the corner.

Ho did a good job with this romance, it is good but I felt like some of the description lacked a little. There just wasn’t enough emotion where there should have been and at times the POV switched without a smooth transition. For example, the story is told from third person past tense narration but there’s a spotlight on Melanie so we always hear her thoughts and feel her emotions. When Melanie first meets Ben though, the spotlight switches to him and suddenly we hear his thoughts about how beautiful Melanie is then the next second we’re back to Melanie.   

Overall, this is a four-star-story. Its very good but with a little more expansion and tweaking it could be great.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* 

The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages