Book Review: Lavash at First Sight

Lavash at First Sight
By Taleen Voskuni
299 pages
Published May 2024

“Sparks fly between two women pitted against each other in this delectable new romantic comedy by Taleen Voskuni, author of Sorry, Bro,” reads the description of Voskuni’s second novel.

“27-year-old Nazeli “Ellie” Gregorian enjoys the prestige of her tech marketing job but is sick of the condescending Patagonia-clad tech bros, her micromanaging boss and her ex-boyfriend, who she’s forced to work with every day. When Ellie’s lovingly overbearing parents ask her to attend PakCon — a food packaging conference in Chicago — to help promote their company and vie to win an ad slot in the Superbowl (no big deal), she’s eager for a brief change and a delicious distraction.

At the conference, she meets witty, devil-may-care Vanya Simonian. Ellie can’t believe how easy it is to talk to Vanya and how much they have in common — both Armenian! From the Bay Area! Whose families are into food! Their meet-cute is cut short, however, when Ellie’s parents recognize Vanya as the daughter of the owners of their greatest rival, whose mission (according to Ellie’s mother) is to whitewash and package Armenian food for the American health-food crowd.

Sworn as enemies, Ellie and Vanya must compete against each other under their suspicious parents’ scrutiny, all while their feelings for each other heat to sizzling temps.”

I devoured Lavash at First Sight in just two sittings and turned the last page feeling hungrier than when I started. The book is a feast for cultural foodies like me, and I savored every description of the Lebanese-Armenian delicacies reminiscent of my childhood and other dishes I have yet to try. While it may sound like a cookbook, it is more of a mash-up between a reality cooking show and romantic comedy with a strong Armenian flavor. Add in roasts of tech companies, recipes for success, queer romance and an Armenian rivalry for a sizzling experience to be remembered.

If you fall in love at first sight with the book cover, I can almost guarantee you will love the following 299 pages. Just as in her debut novel, Sorry Bro, Voskuni packed in Armenian words and surnames for authentic dialogue. In a sample size of 100 pages, 35 pages include at least one Armenian reference, while many pages have several. And yes, I did highlight and count them. 

Voskuni brilliantly balances common characteristics of Armenian families (dare I say stereotypes) with exaggeration and comedy — the overly involved families, limited acceptance of difference, passion and pride for cooking and eating, and stubborn competitiveness, with a dash of elitism. I was pleased to see the acceptance from the families of their queer daughters, laughed out loud at their overbearing nature and rooted for the parents to eventually see how they were more alike than different.

Be sure to pack a copy of Lavash at First Sight in your beach bag this summer along with a hearty serving of lavash and your favorite hummus. Bon appetit. Pari akhorjag. Enjoy!

About the author

Taleen Voskuni is the author of Armenian sapphic romcoms, Sorry, Bro and Lavash at First Sight. She grew up in the Bay Area diaspora surrounded by a rich Armenian community and her ebullient family. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s in English and currently lives in San Francisco, working in tech. Other than a newfound obsession with writing romcoms, she spends her free time cultivating her kids, her garden and her dark chocolate addiction.

Victoria Atamian Waterman

Victoria Atamian Waterman

Victoria Atamian Waterman is a writer born in Rhode Island. Growing up in an immigrant, bilingual, multi-generational home with survivors of the Armenian Genocide has shaped the storyteller she has become. She is a trustee of Soorp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church and chair of the Armenian Heritage Monument in Whitinsville, MA. She is the author of "Who She Left Behind."
Victoria Atamian Waterman

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