The Taste of Ginger and trying Lentil Dal

It’s time for another  TLC Book tour stop.  I am please to review Mansi Shah’s debut novel The Taste of Ginger.    I received a free copy via TLC and the author.  All gushings and rants are my own.

 About the book:

In Mansi Shah’s stunning debut novel, a family tragedy beckons a first-generation immigrant to the city of her birth, where she grapples with her family’s past in search of where she truly belongs.

After her parents moved her and her brother to America, Preeti Desai never meant to tear her family apart. All she did was fall in love with a white Christian carnivore instead of a conventional Indian boy. Years later, with her parents not speaking to her and her controversial relationship in tatters, all Preeti has left is her career at a prestigious Los Angeles law firm. But when Preeti receives word of a terrible accident in the city where she was born, she returns to India, where she’ll have to face her estranged parents…and the complicated past they left behind. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of her heritage, Preeti catches a startling glimpse of her family’s battles with class, tradition, and sacrifice. Torn between two beautifully flawed cultures, Preeti must now untangle what home truly means to her.

About the author:

Mansi Shah was born in Toronto, Canada, and her family immigrated to the United States when she was a young girl. She first lived in rural Oklahoma, in a small town of fewer than 5000 people with only a single stoplight—it could not have contrasted more from the cosmopolitan city of her birth! She then lived in Hannibal, Missouri (the boyhood home of Mark Twain), and she was in fourth grade when she wrote her first novel and decided she wanted to publish a “real book” someday. (That first book is likely in a box in her parents’ garage.) Her family later moved to the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and from there she attended the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.

While at UIUC, Mansi majored in psychology, and still never ceases to be amazed by human behavior, firmly believing that truth is always stranger than fiction. She also had the opportunity to study abroad in Melbourne, Australia, and her love for exploring other countries and immersing herself in new cultures was ignited! After Australia, Mansi moved to Los Angeles to attend law school at UCLA. After working at a large international law firm for a few years, she moved to London to attend the London School of Economics and hoped an adult sabbatical to England would help her figure out “what she wanted to be when she grew up.” The answer hadn’t changed since fourth grade. While working as an entertainment lawyer upon her return to Los Angeles, she began writing The Taste of Ginger. She signed her first “real book” deal in 2020.

When Mansi is not writing, she’s traveling and exploring different cultures near and far. She’s traveled to over 70 countries spanning 6 continents and has many more places she wants to visit. She also loves experimenting on new culinary creations and finding ways to blend the Indian flavors from her childhood with other cuisines. She also loves to play tennis, but admits her culinary game is much stronger than her tennis game!

What I thought…

We all have relationships in our lives that we need to work on.   Families are hard and when one feels slighted, it is hard to sometimes forgive and forget.   I realize that part of the plot of The Taste of Ginger revolves around an issue between mother and daughter, but I was a bit annoyed with Preeti that she was preoccupied about running into her mother as she races to be with her brother and help him deal with his family tragedy.  Yet, she’s willing….. I persevered and the more I read, the more I read the more I found myself rooting for Preeti (and her mother).   I always like to see glimpses into other cultures and Shah really masters that bridge between India and the U.S.  Her portrayal of growing up as a first generation immigrant in a public U.S. school is poignant and (unfortunately) realistic.   Preeti’s teenage self works on her Western image to fit end, leaving her mother and her culture’s ways behind.   (She trades traditional Indian wear for jeans and t-shirts to survive.) From her author’s bio, I noticed that she lived in Oklahoma during her youth.  Small town Oklahoma can be hard and I hope she didn’t draw from her personal experiences from there. Although there is a bit of predictability when it comes to some of Preeti’s other relationships, I did enjoy the novel.   It grew on my as I finished the book.  I’m raiting it 4 out of 5.  I would definitely pick up Shah’s second novel.

The Food:

There’s lots of food in the novel from rotli, samosas, pakora and chai.  I almost defaulted for the chai (but had already done that for another novel set in India).  Dal is mentioned as well and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making it.   I used a recipe found here.

The dal was OK and edible but I think I didn’t properly bloom my spices.  (Or my spices were not as fresh as they should have been.)
I’m linking up with Foodies Read for December.
Check out what others thought about The Taste of Ginger.

Wednesday, December 8th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, December 8th: @stacy40pages

Wednesday, December 8th: @chez_colline

Thursday, December 9th: Helen’s Book Blog

Thursday, December 9th: @readyourworriesaway

Friday, December 10th: @nsiabblog

Monday, December 13th: @bookstasamm

Monday, December 13th: @abbys_library3 on TikTok

Tuesday, December 14th: The Book Diva’s Reads – excerpt

Wednesday, December 15th: @totahlybooked

Wednesday, December 15th: @diveintoagoodbook

Thursday, December 16th: @nurse_bookie

Friday, December 17th: @americanlitteacher

Saturday, December 18th: @booksandcoffeemx

Monday, December 20th: Eliot’s Eats

Monday, December 20th: @backporchpages

Tuesday, December 21st: @books_with_bethany

Wednesday, December 22nd: @bookdragon217

Thursday, December 23rd: @suzylew_bookreview

Monday, December 27th: Girl Who Reads

Wednesday, December 29th: @jenniaahava

Saturday, January 1st: The Cozy Book Blog

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