A Slow-Burn Spy Novel

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!

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