Counterfeit

Kirstin Chen. Morrow, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-311954-3

Chen (Bury What We Cannot Take) spins a clever tale offering two sides of a story involving a complicated friendship and knockoff handbags. When Ava Wong’s former Stanford roommate Winnie Fang reenters her hectic San Francisco life, 20 years after graduation, Ava is the frazzled mother of a tantrum-prone two-year-old, married to a prominent surgeon, and on hiatus from a tax law career she can’t stand. Winnie, on the other hand, has gone from nerd to gorgeous—and she’s clearly rich. Ava, whose marriage is on the rocks, is dazzled by her friend’s physical and financial makeover, then finds out it’s all courtesy of a luxury handbag counterfeit scheme. While Ava is on an impulsive trip visiting family in Hong Kong, her husband cancels her credit and debit cards—leading Ava to reluctantly work with Winnie, whose goods come from China. The novel’s second half picks up with Winnie’s point of view, in which Ava is characterized as scheming and manipulative, making canny moves such as leaving a cellphone at a friend’s house to secure an alibi while trafficking contraband. Readers face a choice: whose perception is real—and whose is counterfeit? The story is further deepened by the author’s sharp, convincing details of the fashion industry and its shadow market, which lends this tale of fakes the tang of authenticity. Readers will be left guessing at the truth until the last page. (June)