Impostor Syndrome, written by Kathy Wang, is a slow-burn novel about career aspirations, privacy, and womanhood. Oh, and espionage!
I think the concept of spies among us is fascinating, so I was eager to read this Book of the Month pick. It did not disappoint!
Julia is Chief Operating Officer at Tangerine, a Google / Facebook / WhatsApp conglomerate with thousands of employees on its 90+ acres of campus in Silicon Valley. She’s hailed as one of the most powerful women in the world and praised for her prowess in the board room, her poise at the podium, and her picturesque life as a new wife and mother. Julia is the example that women point to when they think of having it all.
She’s also a Russian operative, plucked from an institute (orphanage) in her teens to be groomed for her role to support her homeland by working as a spy for the SPB. When Julia’s handler, Leo, orders her to use her power to access data at level that has never been breached before, she starts to question her dual roles. And when Alice, a low-level Tangerine tech support employee, discovers Julia’s actions, the web twists even further.
None of the characters in this book are truly likable. Julia is selfish and condescending. Leo is smug and aloof. Alice is meek and fearful. But yet, it all works. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and I felt empathy for each of the main characters (Aaron, not so much). Impostor Syndrome tackles women’s issues in the workplace, sexism, technology and privacy, and diversity – all in the uber-rich setting of Silicon Valley with a cat-and-mouse spy game to drive the plot forward. A solid 4⭐️ read!
Book Review: Instamom by Chantel Guertin
4⭐️ Book Review
Buying Instamom was solely a case of #bookstagrammademedoit – and I’m so glad I did.
Kit Kidding is an influencer, a motivational speaker, and a child-free-by-choice woman. Her brand isn’t that she hates kids, but that she’s made the conscious decision to choose a single-girl-in-the-city lifestyle instead of #mommyhood – and it was all been working fine. Until she met Will MacGregror, a single dad who gives Kit all the feels. As she gets to know Addie, Will’s precocious daughter, and spends more time in Will’s life, Kit starts questioning if what she thought she loved is what she really wants.
I really enjoyed this book. Chantel Guertin did an amazing job at depicting what it’s like to be single in your 30s and to take on a stepmom role. When I turned 30, my divorce had just been finalized and I was a single mom to a 13-month-old baby girl. By 33, I was dating again and would soon add being a stepmom to my life. The experiences of the Instamom characters definitely resonated with me and my own journey.
Instamom is much more than a rom-com about a social media influencer. This book covered relationships, parenthood, grief, and the question of having it all – a successful career, a partner, kids, and an identity all your own. I cheered for Kit as she struggled to define her choices, and that made Instamom a great read.
Book Review: The Happiest Girl in the World by Alena Dillon
A 4⭐️ Book Review
In The Happiest Girl in the World, Alena Dillon takes on the U.S gymnastics sandal with poise and empathy in her fictionalization of Larry Nassar’s sadistic abuse, the roles that Bela and Martha Karolyi played, and the question of how much pain is worth Olympic gold. This book was a good, but difficult read, filled with triggers about sexual and emotional abuse. I enjoyed the protagonist, Sera, and thought that her voice was strong as Ms. Dillon showed us what compromises and conflicts Sera made on her own to reach her dreams. I especially liked Charlene, Sera’s mom, as a secondary voice because she added another layer of complexity to the story.
I love gymnastics, and the Nassar scandal is just sickening. Reading much of this book was like reading a recap of what’s happened in the past 5 years, and the fictional characters helped shine a light on the tragedy and injustice as so many young girls were abused under a system that prioritized perfection over humanity.
Book Review: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
A 5⭐️ Book Review
Dear Readers: Please read The Other Black Girl. This book addresses race, feminism, and success in so many different ways. I loved the setting of a publishing house because that’s one of my dream jobs, but this book is so much more than a girl trying to get ahead of the office politics and games. It’s a thriller, a social commentary, and a timely read.
Nella, the protagonist, wants to do more than what she’s given as an editorial assistant at Wagner Books. But as the only Black girl in the office, her efforts are thwarted with microaggressions, apathy, and racism. Then Hazel-May arrives as a new assistant. Bella is cautiously optimistic about what another BIPOC colleague might mean for her. Yet, in just a few months, it all goes terribly wrong.
I loved the characters and all their attributes in this book. Nella and her best friend Malaika are real, empathetic, and endearing characters. I loved their interactions. Hazel-May makes you question your trust level of her on every page. The Wagner employees add layers to the story as well.
The Other Black Girl is being described in publicity materials as Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada. I definitely recognized the truth to these comparisons – especially to Get Out. Like after watching that movie, I’m still thinking about this book.