Where's My Celebrity Look-Alike?: A Review of The Stand In by Lily Chu
Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.
I got a good one for ya today. This book is one that I’ve had on my TBR list for I don’t know how long. It has some of my favorite tropes: enemies-to-lovers, celebrity falls in love with normal person, two characters switching places that result in a comedy of errors; I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it!
So what book am I talking about? It’s none other than The Stand In by Lily Chu!
Also, if you follow the blog on Twitter, @RHRMLBlog by the way, then you may have seen my makeup look inspired by book covers series in which this was the latest addition.
Lily Chu loved it and you should go follow RHRML’s Twitter cause that’s where I post my makeup looks first. You can tell what books I’ve been reading based on this series, and you'll get an idea of what’s coming up on RHRML. I also sometimes make memes. We have a fun time there.
Anyway, back to The Stand In. It’s synopsis time now, and as always, a spoiler alert is in order. You’ve been warned. I also must issue a content and trigger warning. One of the plotlines in The Stand In deals with sexual harassment in the workplace. The Stand In also deals with mental health issues, namely anxiety and depression. There are also a few instances of racism towards Asian communities in this book. I'm not going into much detail regarding any of those topics, but know that they exist in The Stand In. Now let’s get to the synopsis.
Meet Gracie Reed, our down-on-her-luck protagonist. She just lost her job, her mom has Alzheimer’s which has progressed to the point where she doesn’t know who Gracie is exactly, Gracie can hardly afford her own bills let alone any type of down payment for the private care home she wants her mom to be in; oh, and did I mention the reason Gracie lost her job? It’s because of Todd, her icky former boss who sexually harassed her and decided she “wasn’t good enough” for her job anymore. Todd sucks and I’d like to beat him with a chair.
This is Gracie’s story though so things are starting to look up for her. Namely she gets mistaken for a celebrity at her local coffee shop. The paparazzi thought she was Wei Fangli, a Chinese superstar who Gracie bears an uncanny resemblance to. After Gracie’s pictures go viral, these two women meet and Fangli gives Gracie a very lucrative job opportunity: Gracie pretends to be Fangli at events for the next few months so Fangli can focus on her mental health.
Honestly, Gracie is living the dream. She gets to attend VIP events, wear the hottest designer clothes, and be escorted everywhere by the stunning, and aggravating, Sam Yao. Spoiler, Gracie and Sam don’t get along. They butt heads a lot, but Gracie can admit that Sam is easily one of the most attractive men she’s ever met. And before she knows it, she’s falling head-over-heels for him and he is too. Issue is, the world thinks he’s falling for Fangli. Whatever will our Gracie do?
This book is so sweet. There is just this lightness to it that I’ve been missing for a while. I’m someone who tends to gravitate towards horror and thriller books. You know, things that tend to be on the darker side. The Stand In is on the whole opposite end of the spectrum though. There’s this lightheartedness to it while managing to discuss topics like mental health and sexual harassment with all seriousness. Every scene conveys compassion and empathy that I haven’t found in other books; at least not in awhile. Not to mention the humor that Lily Chu brings as well.
The Stand In is a novel that I found myself crying over and laughing with. I said at the start of this post, this book also has all the tropes I love. Basically, I love this book. Now let’s talk about some of those tropes.
Namely the enemies-to-lovers trope. It’s my favorite trope, and it’s excellently done. The Stand In has a beautiful enemies-to-lovers romance, and Sam and Gracie have some amazing chemistry. The pair start off at each other’s throats given how arrogant Sam is at the beginning, but our girl Gracie is quick to put him in his place and knock him off his high horse.
Their banter is great. Both of them have some quick wit which made me look forward to their scenes. Naturally by the second-third of the book, Sam and Gracie have begun a friendly working relationship and Sam has opened up revealing his true sweet, caring personality. At this point I could argue that these characters, and romantic arc, are predictable and thus kinda boring. But no! These tropes work for a reason, and Gracie and Sam’s romance works!
I will fault the last-third of the book though. The last act conflict does not work for me. Gracie and Sam finally get together and then oops, something happens. This something is Gracie overhearing a conversation between Sam and Fangli about Fangli having to fire someone. Gracie assumes this someone is her so she simply runs off without talking to her new found friends. The miscommunication trope was not done well. To be fair, it is never done well because it makes me question how stupid people can be. Is it that hard for even fictional characters to talk to one another? Yeah, the last-third was irritating.
Overall, the whole book is formulaic. All our main characters get their Happily Ever After’s. All the problems they’ve faced are magically righted. Love wins. You get it, you can easily put everything into the book outline pyramid. It’s kinda predictable in that sense. But I really liked this book. It has quality tropes, quality writing, and a light hearted charm I’ve been missing in my life. A solid book.
With that, I must bid you all adieu. I shall see you all next week with another great review that I may have created a beautiful makeup look for as well.
Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.