Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Review: Sushi for One? by Camy Tang

Lex Sakai's family is big, nosy, and marriage-minded. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the oldest single cousin in the clan. Lex has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the perfect man. But the one man she keeps running into doesn't seem to have a single quality on her list. It's only when the always-in-control Lex starts to let God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place. (Zondervan, August 2007)

RATING: 3 out of 5 (Good)

I've been wanting to read one of Camy Tang's novels for a while now, simply because there aren't a lot of non-Caucasian protagonists in Christian novels. This might sound like an odd complaint coming from the whitest girl on the planet, but I'm actually 1/8th Indian and have always thought of myself as Anglo-Indian. 

That said, I did struggle to relate to Lex at the start of this novel. I might have a big Indian family, but we don't have the same stereotypical pressures that you'd imagine--instead of a doctor, lawyer and a minister, my grandparents ended up with a nurse, a graphic designer and a musician. And I don't think they mind! As for Lex herself, she and I have very little in common. I am the least athletic person in the world, and had horrible flashbacks of primary school volleyball games while reading this book. I might be clumsy, but I'm nowhere near as bad as Lex, and I couldn't relate to her complaints about being too skinny because my struggle is that my figure is far more curvaceous than that of the average white British woman. And of course, I'm not a thirty-year-old single woman living at home. I'm a twenty-one-year-old married woman renting a house with my husband. 

But I can definitely see how this book would resonate with women in Lex's position. At times it seemed like she had a lot going on in her life, but the issues she faced were typical of single women of her age in today's society, particularly when it came to struggling to buy her own home when her salary at work was cut, and navigating the dating pool. I never really saw much of the dating scene, having married the first guy I dated in college, but it did not sound fun from this book. Even if I couldn't relate to her situation, I could definitely sympathise.

I initially thought this was going to be a fun chick-lit novel about a woman hunting for her ideal man in an attempt to appease her grandmother, but it ended up being a lot more deep than that. The spiritual side of the novel seemed light, but towards the end I began to realise that Lex's desperate search for what she thought was her perfect man had a lesson to teach anybody, single or married. Taking matters into your own hands can be dangerous, and sometimes we do this simply because we don't want to ask God for help and receive an answer we don't like. Whether you're waiting for a boyfriend or a job or a miracle, it's difficult, and sometimes that forces us to make rash decisions and rush into situations we know very little about. This was a definitely a message I needed to hear, since my husband and I are currently looking for a new house, while waiting to hear back from an editor about my manuscript. It's tempting to leap into something, but sometimes it really is best to wait.

Despite my initial worry that I wouldn't find anything to relate to in this book, I was pleasantly surprise by the universal message that came out of Lex's man-hunt. Although I find Lex's big, crazy Asian family a little intimidating, I would rather like to read more about them sometime, even if just for the descriptions of the food. My husband and I probably cook Asian food more often than we eat traditional British meals, so that was definitely one of the appeals with this book. I might not be rushing out to buy the next book in the series, but it will certainly be going on my wishlist. Camy Tang definitely brings something new to the chick-lit market, even if some aspects of this book felt a little over-the-top at times.

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