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Dishing out Family Drama: India Sweets and Spices & Eat with Me

10 May

The family table can be both a source of connection and a source of drama; here are two picks that prove that point; which are representative as we recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Click on the links to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and the Hoboken Library’s events celebrating it.

India Sweets and Spices
India Sweets and Spices is about Alia, played charmingly by Sophia Ali, an UCLA student, who returns home from school to her Indian family in a wealthy NJ community and finds herself at odds with her parents and her Aunties’ visions of her future. The movie is broken up in to chapters following different lavish parties being held in her family’s social circle. As she finds romance with a local shop keeper’s son (their store provides the title of the movie), she discovers some buried family secrets from the past and present. I found the movie both touching and funny. I also could relate to both Alia who is wanting to break free from the small town of her childhood, but also Alia’s mother, played with complexity by Manisha Koirala, who is looking back at her own dreams that she deferred to make a better life for her children. Those hungering for more Indian family drama may want to check out 1999’s Chutney Popcorn about a woman whose girlfriend breaks up with her after she agrees to be a surrogate for her sister’s child.

Eat with Me
Eat with Me is a comedy-drama from 2014 about a gay chef, Eliot, and his mother who become closer leading up to the possible foreclosure of the Chinese restaurant inherited from another family member. Elliot, played by Teddy Chen Culver, is just beginning a new relationship, while his mother, played by Sharon Omi, has just separated from Eliot’s father and come to live with him. This is a charming story of acceptance and building bridges through food. Always a favorite of mine, George Takai has a small role in the film and Nicole Sullivan provides a lot of laughs as Eliot’s quirky neighbor who befriends his serious mom. If you enjoy this film you may also want to check out The Wedding Banquet another touching film centered around a gay son and his Chinese family. Stay tuned for our May 31 picks for two romance novels perfect for Pride Month.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

A Secret Worth Sharing: Tress of the Emerald Sea

5 Apr

On March 1st, 2022, Brandon Sanderson surprised not only his fans, but fantasy book lovers and aspiring writers across the globe when he announced he had written four surprise novels during the 2020 lockdowns and would be having a Kickstarter for his fans and those interested in these new projects. The Kickstarter would then go on to be one of the most successful ones to date, reaching over $6.8 million by its completion. Now, one year since its announcement, Secret Project 1, also known as Tress of the Emerald Sea is now available as an ebook, with the print copies just released yesterday.

One of the unique things about the novel is that it’s being told to us by Hoid, a well known character within Sanderson’s Cosmere universe who travels from world to world. It is through him we are introduced to one of our main characters, Tress, and her friend Charlie. After Charlie disappears at sea, it’s up to Tress to find and rescue him from the clutches of The Sorceress.

The charm of the narration takes center stage and the readers find themselves in a novel with high stakes but still a sense of whimsy that carries on through Tress’s and Hoid’s adventure. The worldbuilding is imaginative with a surprisingly fresh take on the sea and magic tech that is intertwined with the use of spores as both a weapon and practical device.

Both Tress and Hoid carry the story well, each one engaging through the shared adventure they are on and Hoid’s additional quips to us as the narrator of this tale. For those familiar with Hoid as a character, this novel gives us a unique insight into his thoughts and opinions on things during the novel and serves as a potential teaser for things to come if you listen to Sanderson’s reveal in the Postscript of the audiobook.

Tress is also quite the interesting protagonist, a character who is intelligent and brave without falling into the “perfect, strong female character” trope that is quickly becoming prevalent in other works of fiction.If you’re looking for a whimsical adventure in an imaginative setting and fun characters, look no further than Tress of the Emerald Sea.

Written By:
Lauren Lapinski
Information and Digital Services Assistant

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