Off the Menu
Christine San

New American Library
Trade Paperback/368 pages
ISBN: 0-451-22417-5
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". . . a case of art imitating life . . ."

Off the Menu: Three successful Asian women come to terms with their own dreams and their families' expectations.

Audrey, Whitney and Hercules share three things: They are class valedictorians at a prestigious prep school, have family trouble and dream of a future different from the one they are living. They also share a reticence to discuss their deepest secrets and hopes during their monthly get-togethers at Hercules’ restaurant.

Audrey was adopted by very wealthy parents and sees herself more as Irish than Korean. She’s also not in line with her parents’ expectations in her choice of fiancé or becoming a professor of English literature.

Whitney is an associate at a prestigious law firm and every minute she can pry loose from her busy work schedule she writes and performs songs in local clubs. Her well-educated Korean parents do not approve of her giving up the law career she hates for the unstable career of a singer.

Hercules’s first restaurant, Dragonfly, is very successful. She is about to open her second restaurant while negotiating a lucrative deal for a signature line of cookware. She is also writing articles and appearing on local and regional television shows, but she cannot deal with her aging and increasingly difficult father who refuses, even after decades living in Texas, to speak anything but Mandarin.

These three successful and conflicted women are about to find out the true meaning of friendship and that their dreams are worth fighting for.

As a lawyer, Christine Son knows about working in the corporate legal world. She also knows what it is like to be an Asian woman living in Texas, and she brings those attributes to creating a believable and memorable cast of characters in Off the Menu.

Whitney, Audrey and Hercules are strong, intelligent and confused women nearing thirty who are supposed to have everything figured out and yet are still struggling with their families’ and their own expectations. These are modern woman who wonder if they’ve sold out their dreams for security or are living their parents’ dreams instead of their own. Christine Son keeps getting it right throughout Off the Menu. The circumstances are timely and the characters unique and unforgettable.

It is obvious Son cares for the characters and knows how to tell a moving and fascinating story. If Off the Menu is a case of art imitating life, then Christine Son is on her way to becoming a very brilliant and successful novelist.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell