Yang, Kelly. Private Label. Katherine Tegen Books, 2022. ISBN 978-0062941107 416 pp. $17.99
Serene, the daughter of a fashion mogul and intern at her mother’s fashion house, is being groomed to take over the business, much to the displeasure of her mother’s senior designers. Lily Lu has terminal pancreatic cancer, and it’s always been her and har daughter against the world, and the white-bred California suburb where they live.
Lian is a new immigrant from China who faces micro-aggressions and outright bullying at their high school. He starts an afterschool club for students interested in learning Chinese, and Serene joins in the hopes it can aid her in connecting with her estranged father. Although Serene has a boyfriend, she begins to fall for Lian, who becomes her rock when things are rapidly going south.
Both Serene and Lian are coping with what their mothers want for them–and the gap between that, and what they want for themselves. Racism and sexism meld with fashion and Chinese culture to produce a novel with a lot of depth. The alternating point of views work well; the teen voices are authentic and unique. The cover art is lovely. The cancer details are all too real. This is a well-written and timely tale about the immigrant experience that will both tug at your heartstrings and have you cheering for the characters.
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #PrivateLabel via #NetGalley.