Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen
Money can’t buy happiness… but it can buy a decent fake.
Ava Wong has always played it safe. As a straight-laced, rule-abiding Chinese American lawyer with a successful surgeon as a husband, a young son, and a beautiful home — she’s built the perfect life. But beneath this façade, Ava’s world is crumbling: her marriage is falling apart, her expensive law degree hasn’t been used in years, and her toddler’s tantrums are pushing her into the breaking point.
Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s enigmatic college roommate from Mainland China, who abruptly dropped out under mysterious circumstances. Now, 20 years later, Winnie is looking to reconnect with her old friend. But the shy, awkward girl Ava once knew had been replaced with a confident woman of the world, driving in luxury goods, including a coveted Birkin in classic orange. The secret to her success? Winnie has developed an ingenious counterfeit scheme that involves importing near-exact replicas of luxury handbags and now she needs someone with a US passport to help manage her business — someone who’d never be suspected of wrongdoing, someone like Ava. But when their spectacular success is threatened and Winnie vanishes once again, Ava is left to face the consequences.
Swift, surprising, and sharply comic, Counterfeit is a stylish and feminist caper with a strong point of view and an ax to grind. Peering behind the curtain of the upscale designer storefronts and the Chinese factories where luxury goods are produced, Kirstin Chen interrogates the myth of the model minority through two unforgettable women determined to demand more from life.
Reasons to read it: This is a clever and fun novel that manages to work in more serious themes. Stereotypes surrounding Asian women and the realities of the fashion industry are examined just as readers get to experience all the fun twists of a good caper. The first half details Ava’s perspective of being used by Winnie, as told to a detective. The second half features Winnie’s account, which describes a manipulative Ava. You’ll still be trying to figure out who to believe up until the last page.