Ava Wong has always played it safe. As a strait-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 to the breaking point.
Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s enigmatic college roommate from Mainland China, who abruptly dropped out under mysterious circumstances. Now, twenty years later, Winnie is looking to reconnect with her old friend. But the shy, awkward girl Ava once knew has been replaced with a confident woman of the world, dripping 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 U.S. 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.
There are two obvious main characters in this, that being Winnie and Ava. Perhaps the third less obvious character is the detective to whom Ava is speaking and narrating her whole story to. We find that out in like chapter 1, and that sets up a whole lot of intrigue because right from the start you know somehow they must get caught since Ava is talking to a detective about all of this. And then commences the mystery.
Granted, the mystery is couched in a lot of daily explanation. If I thought about this as actually being an interview with a detective, I would think Ava is insane because she’s basically just narrating her entire life story. There’s so much emotion in it, which is great for a book but if talking to a detective in real life I think it would be a little more concise. xD It brought a lot of tension to it though, because the whole way through you had to wonder, how much is the detective believing her? What if Ava still gets in trouble despite confessing?
Eva’s toddler Henri had some sections that were really difficult to read about, as he has non-stop tantrums and must have been immensely colicky for his entire life. Those scenes might be a little bit difficult for a new mother, considering they were difficult for me (not at all a mother). They felt like the anomaly in Ava’s life and story, and it seems that they had more weight and definition into the events then maybe they first appear, besides the obvious ways.
I’m not going to say much more about plot other than that it was surprisingly engaging considering how little interest I have in handbags (or scams).
I think a better way to end this review is that it was a book club pick and boy did we all have a lot to say about it! We talked for quite a while, almost 2 hours about this book. It just has so much in it that you can dig into and it was really fun to have those debates and analysis of character motivation and stuff like that.