Book Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
“Girl loves boy loves girl.”
I read Helen Hoang’s debut novel, The Kiss Quotient, last year and loved it and have been eagerly awaiting Khai’s book. The Bride Test features Michael’s autistic cousin, Khai, and his love interest, Esme. Khai’s mom goes to Vietnam to pick out a bride for Khai and returns to America with Esme, a very poor hotel maid. Esme decides to spend the summer in America living with Khai to see if she can make this relationship work and find a dad for her little girl, Jade. But once she gets to America, she doesn’t mention Jade to anyone because she’s a little scared of how people will react. Khai initially has no interest in forming a relationship with Esme, but Esme slowly, but surely worms her way into his heart.
In the prologue of the book, we see that Khai’s cousin, Andy, has passed away, and because of his autism, Khai cannot process his grief like his neurotypical family members. Because of Andy’s death, Khai feels like he cannot love ever (but we all know how that will turn out!). Ten years pass, and at the beginning of the book, Khai’s mom decides to take matters into her own hands and find a suitable partner for Khai. Enter Esme. Esme has never left Vietnam and is very anxious about this whole process, but she wants a better life for her and her daughter. She also wants to find her father, who had a fling with her mother twenty-four years ago. All she knows about him is his name is Phil and he went to Berkeley. At first, Esme is all set to try and seduce Khai, but the more she gets to know him, she realizes that there is more to him than just a ticket to a better life.
The relationship between Khai and Esme is perfect. As Khai is autistic, he doesn’t always pick up on social cues, and Esme is having to learn a whole new culture in America. I just love that they both kind of stumble towards each other. When Khai tells Esme that he’s autistic, she doesn’t understand what he’s trying to tell her; she doesn’t know that word, but it doesn’t really bother her one way or the other. I just loved that. It didn’t matter to her whether or not he was autistic, she only cared about him. But his autism does make it harder for him to realize his feelings toward Esme. Since Andy’s death, he’s vowed to never feel love, yet he feels strongly about Esme. He just doesn’t realize he’s in love.
Like in The Kiss Quotient, Quan, Khai’s brother, was my favorite side character. I’m really hoping Hoang’s next book is about him; I’m dying for his story. Quan is such a fantastic big brother, always looking out for Khai, but he also really takes to Esme as well. There is a scene later in the book where Quan is trying to talk to Khai about emotions and love, and it’s a really well-written and beautiful scene. Props to Hoang for nailing the whole book, but that moment especially.
As much as I enjoyed The Kiss Quotient, I cannot express how much I loved The Bride Test. Hoang’s books are only getting better, and I cannot wait to read her next book. If you are looking for a truly heartwarming love story, I cannot recommend this enough. An immigrant and an autistic accountant falling in love; what’s not to love about that? This is a perfect summer read, and I cannot wait for others to read it so we can all gush about it. I absolutely loved it and give it 5 stars.
What is your favorite recent romance?