I read The Bride Test, by Helen Hoang, when I was flat on my back with the flu. It was such a fun, heartwarming and easy read.
It’s an unusual premise with echoes of familiar stories. If you transported Pride and Prejudice to the modern day, mashed it up with Pretty Woman themes and then inserted a character or two from The Rosie Project but with Vietnamese / American origins, you’d be getting close.
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions – like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective.
Khai’s family, however, understands that his autism means he processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
The Bride Test is pure story, with no particular viewpoints to bash you over the head with. It’s not a story about understanding people with autism. It’s not a story about American wealth vs. Asian poverty. It’s simply the story of two people who are thrown together by a mixture of chance and an interfering mother.
Esme Tran is a single mum who happens to be a hotel cleaner living in a one-room hut with her mother and grandmother in Vietnam.
Khai is a young man in America who happens to be autistic and is convinced that he’s incapable of having a meaningful relationship with a woman.
Hilarity and chaos ensues.
I would, however, now like to go back and read Pride and Prejudice and see if I can figure out whether maybe Mr Darcy was perhaps actually autistic and not just an ill-mannered boar who had no idea how to relate to people who weren’t members of his immediate family.
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Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.