This forthcoming, debut novel from Kyle Lucia Wu recounts the experience of a young woman who becomes a live-in nanny for a wealthy New York family. For me, the protagonist of Win Me Something, Willa Chen, feels like a familiar character – someone we’ve all known. After graduating college she’s left without a clear direction in either her professional or personal life. She ends up a nanny by chance, and her relationships develop throughout the narrative more out of convenience versus intention. She reflects at length about her childhood and family relations, but her reflections don’t seem to have a significant impact on her decisions or progress – she struggles to find her place with her “hired” family as much as she did with her own.
While I found the story and characters familiar and even relatable at times, I was also a little bit disappointed in them. There wasn’t anything especially surprising or gripping about their development – it felt hard to root for the protagonist because she barely rooted for herself. And while there are some meaningful comments on class and race throughout this debut, they didn’t take up quite as much space as I would have liked.
This is an easy, modern read with a familiar caste of characters and relatable struggle, but all told it left me somewhat underwhelmed.