“Modern and inspiring read that will leave you thinking about gender, race and class…”
New / Old Flames are our favorite books – the ones we really think you should read too.
The Partner Track by Helen Wan
Reviewed by Alexandra
Northern Virginia native Helen Wan’s debut novel deserves all the acclaim it has received. This sharply written narrative tells the story of Ingrid Yung, a first-generation Asian-American and an eight-year associate, who is poised to make partner at a top-ranked law firm.
Ingrid is as an accomplished attorney with a blunt style. Aware of the uncommon position she is in, Ingrid calls herself a “twofer” – an Asian-American woman in a corporate law firm. In fact, she and another colleague, an African-American gay man, are featured in the firm’s recruiting brochures in an effort to convey diversity. But comments such as, “Believe me, I’d rather work with a pretty little Asian gal any day,” remind her that she does not fully belong. But she does fit in – Ingrid calls it her “passing” – with intellectual rigor and the ability to comport herself professionally.
Wan delicately explores the clash of workplace rules and values of belonging and success with those learned in Ingrid’s home: hard work and humility. Women’s achievement is also a theme. Notes written on the back of holiday cards such as, “Keep up the fight. Looking forward to toasting the firm’s first female corporate partner,” remind Ingrid that many female friends are counting on her to succeed.
As the partnership vote nears, Ingrid is selected to lead a major case, which she sees as her final test. While working long hours, she develops a relationship with Murph, a long-time love-interest and fellow associate. If that wasn’t enough, Ingrid is then tapped to promote the Diversity Inclusion Committee.
The Partner Track offers surprising twists and turns as Ingrid defines success and belonging for herself. It is a modern and inspiring read that will leave you thinking about gender, race and class long after you finish reading it.
When she’s not reviewing new fiction, Alexandra is the Library’s Business and Nonprofit librarian.