• Lafourche Parish Public Library

Brooke's Pick: Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen

Follows the story of two Asian American women who band together to grow a counterfeit handbag scheme into a global enterprise.

Counterfeit, Kirstin Chen's new novel about the world of knockoff upscale handbags, is a total guilty pleasure read! When Ava Wong, who is failing at life as a wife and mother, reunites with her old college roommate Winnie Fang, she is soon coerced into joining Winnie in a business partnership. The only problem is that Winnie's business dealings are not exactly legal. See, she is involved in a luxury handbag counterfeit scheme, and Ava is soon in deep with her. Ava knows that she and Winnie are playing with fire, but the payoff is too sweet to let go of ... and frankly, the adrenaline rush that Ava gets every time she gets away with swapping a pricey handbag for a "superfake" is hard to beat, but at what cost?

Having only a vague knowledge of the counterfeit handbag industry before reading this novel, the material covered in this book was completely new to me, which made it as informative as it was entertaining ... and it was quite the enjoyable read! I devoured this book and looked forward to picking it up each day; in a world where our attention is being pulled in a million different directions every second, I always take that as a sign of a good novel.

There are several things that make this book so appealing. First is its confessional tone. Counterfeit reads as if you are being let in on a scandalous secret. The plot is set up by Ava telling her clandestine story to the audience. We learn how she gets involved in Winnie's illegal handbag ring and how exactly the women manage to get their fake designer handbags on the market. I won't reveal any spoilers here because I personally had a lot of fun trying to figure out how Ava and Winnie were going to get away with the scheme. Suffice it to say, I did not come up with the same plot that they did (guess I will never be a criminal mastermind!) Chen keeps her writing distinctly intimate and lets readers experience the chills and thrills that accompany pulling off a ruse of this magnitude.

Learning about the counterfeit luxury handbag market was also entirely intriguing! I loved the parts of the book where Ava described how exactly superfakes are produced and sold as the "real thing." Chen also introduces us to a wide variety of high-end handbags, and you can rest assured that I Googled every bag mentioned in the book so that I could feast upon these luxury goods in all their "un-counterfeited" glory. This story is as sumptuous as the handbags at the center of its plot, and will delight those who have even a vague interest in the industry.

Chen has written an alluring novel of fashion and deceit that never gets bogged down or boring. Moving at a fast pace, Counterfeit will appeal to readers who enjoy books that show the dark, insidious side of everything glittering and gold.

Availability: Book; eBook in cloudLibrary

Rating: ***** Stars (I loved it)

Reviewer: Brooke, Public Relations Librarian




GENRE: Book Club Best Bets; Caper Novels; Multiple Perspectives

TONE: Sardonic; Suspenseful

STORYLINE: Intricately Plotted; Own Voices

WRITING STYLE: Compelling; Incisive; Witty

LOCATION: California; China; Hong Kong

SUBJECT: Ambition; American People; Asian American Women; Asian People; Chinese American Women; Chinese People; Chinese People in the United States; Counterfeits & Counterfeiting; Deception; East Asian People; Handbags; Manipulation; Marital Conflict; North American People; Options, Alternatives, Choices; Product Counterfeiting; Rich People; Swindlers & Swindling