Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Author: Kirstin Chen
Genres: Fiction
Pub. Date: Jun. 7, 2022 (read Apr. 2022)

Thanks to Harper Collins Canada and Netgalley for gifting me with an e-arc copy of Counterfeit, coming out June 7, 2022.

I heard about this one at HCC Frenzy’s summer book preview event and thought it sounded really fun! It’s about new(ish) mom Ava Wong, who is struggling with her child’s emotional needs and being away from work indefinitely. When she runs into her old college roommate, Winnie Fang, she is surprised that the Stanford drop-out appears to be oozing money with her expensive handbags and accessories. She doesn’t plan to re-kindle the friendship, but when she runs into a tight spot financially, Winnie recruits Ava to her counterfeit handbag scheme and soon Ava is in deeper than she ever wanted.

The most striking thing about this book for me was the storytelling style. The majority of the book is Ava recounting to a detective how she re-connected with Winnie and got caught up in her scheme. The detective doesn’t have any dialogue and is a passive character, but the whole book is narrated to this detective, which makes for an interesting dilemma on what to think of our protagonist. Ava seems innocent enough, but given the context, it’s hard to know how much we can trust her recount of what happened. We know the two women must have eventually been caught, but we’re left to try and guess at how Ava gets involved and how the whole thing ultimately disintegrates.

It’s definitely a promising debut. I liked the writing style and I thought the author had great ideas, creatively she just didn’t take it quite as far as I was hoping. There are a few twists and turns in the storytelling, but overall I was hoping for something more shocking and it didn’t quite deliver. It’s a fun story and scheme, but I found the main themes to be pretty surface level and I wanted more depth all around, from the plot, to the characters, to the overarching ideas. The synopsis talks about “interrogating the myth of the model minority”, which I guess this book does to an extent, but I found the plot to dominate over everything else and while it was a fun story, it didn’t have the depth to make it memorable. But it was a very promising debut and it makes for a very quick read, so I did still enjoy it!

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