Win Me Something

Tin House. Nov. 2021. 280p. pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781951142735.
Willa has never felt like she fit in, especially after her parents remarried and had children with their new spouses. Her alienation is further complicated by her biracial identity. She lives primarily with her white mother, who is clueless about the racism Willa deals with, but she still feels as if she isn’t Chinese enough in Asian spaces. This has translated into a fear of being noticed or voicing her own desires in case she is rejected. In her mid-20s, floundering after college, Willa takes a job as a live-in nanny for the Adriens, a rich family in New York City’s Tribeca. Over the course of a school year, as she integrates into their life, she mistakes her sense of being professionally needed for a sense of personal belonging. Told in short chapters with occasional flashbacks to childhood, Willa’s first-person narration is infused with the unbearable ache of loneliness. This gorgeously written quiet and evocative character study subtly looks at family, belonging, race, and class as Willa tries to find a professional and personal place for herself.
VERDICT A superb book, but with the majority of the time line focused on Willa’s adulthood, it will not hold broad teen appeal.

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