Title: Soy Sauce for Beginners
Author: Kirstin Chen
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: New Harvest
Genre: Cultural Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
After the break-up of her marriage, 30-year-old Gretchen returns home to Singapore, to the family business she’s tried to escape all her life: making artisanal soy sauce. But home isn’t the tranquil place she wants it to be: her father is trying to involve her in company decisions, her alcoholic mother can’t hide her problems anymore, and the company itself is facing a crossroads. But through this adversity, Gretchen just might discover what she wants for herself and find a way to make peace with the past.
Soy Sauce for Beginners is a pleasant read, a novel full of the challenges and trials of life. Gretchen isn’t a perfect character by any stretch of the imagination; she fumbles and makes mistakes right and left, but readers will be able to sympathize with her decisions. She’s a fish out of water in every aspect of her life, and it’s interesting to see how she tries to remake things in order to find comfort. Readers will appreciate the Singaporean setting; Chen gives the reader insight into another culture, especially through the lens of the soy sauce business. Though sometimes it feels as if the novel never dives below the surface, it’s an enjoyable read that fans of cultural women’s fiction should absolutely pick up.