Warning: This is not going to be a well-reasoned, sane or calm post. This is essentially going to be me gushing about one of my favorite auto-buy authors. That said, I’m going to jump straight into squeeing.
I loved this book. I adored it.
I love all of Laura’s books because she has this disconcerting tendency to shove her hands straight into my ribcage, grab straight for my heart, and start manipulating it the way a master chocolatier might handle his art. When I read her books, it’s almost always a non-stop roller coaster of fear and vulnerability. I feel like I’m out there in the character’s heads, with my heart hanging out there for everyone to see, and I’m afraid, so afraid, that one misstep means that my heart is just going to go splat and they’d look at it like a mis-plated dessert and sweep it into the trash without a second glance.
I usually read her books on the edge of my seat, both waiting for and fearing every moment. I hold my breath, not quite believing, even as I do believe, that I will fall safely into warmth and love.
So, I’m Asian American. -ish. I was born in Taiwan and came to the US with my parents when I was two. English is essentially my 1.5 language. That might give you some hint of why Sarah spoke directly to and from my heart.
I finished The Chocolate Temptation today and I was almost trembling and on the verge of tears for parts of it.
Laura’s deft at handling emotion — she juggles heavy topics, hot sex, disarming vulnerability, and above all, realism of emotion and truth in a way that stuns me and holds me almost motionless.
Sarah’s background with her mother being Korean, the reality of her mother having fled from Korea to come to the Us for a better life, and Sarah’s many experiences with being the child of an immigrant, the green card child, having always to be an example of her race and gender, and all the beautiful, sad, painful, wonderful details of what all that means — Laura weaves them in with a light hand, touching just enough to shape and mold, but never in a way that feels forced or brittle.
I love that Sarah’s aware of her background and cherishes it and knows how it shapes her without it being the entirety of her being. I love that Laura touched on her being American and that’s how she sees herself without fanfare. I love the delicacy with how she paints a picture of just how we can be molded by our parent’s pain and sacrifice into who we are, from pain into self-inflicted pain, but how it’s not abusive but simply is. How there is no choice there. No choice for your parents and no choice for you and how that’s simply life. How perfectionism cuts deeply into yourself even as you embrace it both because you must and because perfection is what you always want to strive for because you understand what pain is and perfection is an imperfect balm for that pain but it’s all we really hate.
When I read Laura’s books, she keeps making me think that she has a direct line into all my secret fears. Being torn between a parent and the self and the feeling of having a perfectionist parent who you can never quite fully please. That need to escape, when you both love someone so utterly and yet you are so drained by the loving that you don’t know what to do with yourself. Being split between two places, not quite feeling at ease in either, desperately looking for home and so afraid of what love means in pain and sacrifice.
Laura was on my auto-buy list already, but she fully has my heart now because she’s put voice to the core of me in a more beautiful way than I’d ever imagined.
Thank you, Laura, so much, for putting this into the world.