By Kirstin Chen
I’m not one that’s interested in designer bags or name-brand things, but I am interested in scammers – and Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen created the perfect read for a dreary winter day. This novel is pure fun, perfect for book clubs, taking on vacations and passing on to your best friend. There are deeper themes if you want to dig, touching on the idea of family & friendship, the concept of success and the idea of the model minority.
Our main character Ava lives a privileged life with a physician husband and a perfectly adorable young son in California. Designer bags and expensive purchases are part of her normal life. However, when she runs into Winnie, a former friend from college, looking to reconnect it sets her life off balance. Winnie takes advantage of Ava’s busy husband and her love for her son to convince her to take a chance on a business deal she has cooking. Together, these two women become a powerhouse partnership that run a luxury counterfeit scam – taking high-class bags from the factory floor into the hands of Americans. The details given in the book related to these fancy bags are ones that I have no knowledge of – but if you have $1000+ brand name bags in your closet that you purchased from Copley or from Covet, you might be running to double check for yourself
Ava finally feels like her life has a purpose and that she’s found something she’s good at. While you root for her success and her newfound friendship, you also want to reach through the page and smack her in the head, yelling ARE YOU STUPID? But then as you flip to the next page, you wonder 1.) would you be able to tell the best fake from the real thing? And 2.) wouldn’t it be kinda cool to be a scammer? – Or is that just me? I found myself loving this friendship and I didn’t want anything to come between them. In some sense, Ava and Winnie perfectly balance each other out.
The book is told as Ava is telling her side of the story to a detective – so it gives you a general idea of what happened, but it works. Her recap brings you from nursery school rooms in San Fran to labor factories in China. It reads as though you’re sitting right there with them, hearing this educated woman tell her side… but don’t forget, there are always two sides to a story :)
By Lily Brooks Dalton
Wintertime is often the perfect time to put down the thrillers and pick up a solid fiction choice. You want a true story that has you delighting in details, imagining lives that aren’t your own and has you keeping the light on for just a few more minutes each night. A perfect choice for you is The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks Dalton. You might recognize this cover because it was all over Instagram and celeb book clubs for good reason.
To let you know ahead, this book is a slow burn with mini flare-ups throughout. Some parts are quick, and intense and you may have to go back to re-read. Others take the long route, building up details so you can picture the colors of the Florida swampland, feel the raindrops and hear the whistle of the wind over time. The book starts with the birth of our main character, Wanda – named after one of Florida’s devastating hurricanes.
Each section of the book grows through stages in Wanda’s life – similar to the way hurricanes grow. And what makes this book interesting – it takes place in the future, a date we’re not really sure of – when climate change has completely changed the landscape of the planet. Her father is a linesman, just trying to keep the electricity on for days at a time. The power grid completely acts on its own. Her brother searches for a way to save their home, heading to college but not sure if he’ll ever be able to return home to see his family again. Their neighbor, Phyllis, an older woman who we would consider a survivalist, a hoarder of sorts or a doomsdayer. She learns to live off the land (and the water), while truly respecting the land and its changes. When the government deems Florida uninhabitable – with water levels rising, Wanda must make a choice of whether to follow her brother or stay and face nature.
This book was eye-opening and I think many would enjoy it. I’ve personally never read a book that talks about climate change in this way, where you can imagine this happening – and it’s not zombies or viruses knocking on our door. Imagine Florida underwater, the Outer Banks gone. It’s scary as a thought or a possibility, but this book gives you the story of life victim to Mother Nature.
If you got this far, thank you! Let us know what you think via the comments on @caughtinsouthie or catch me at @glossinbossin / @josiegl on Instagram.