far would you go to further your career? What if you felt tremendous
pressure from your family and from your community? These are very real
concerns for Ingrid Young, who is on the verge of making partner at
Parsons Valentine, a prestigious international law firm.
The Parsons Valentine dining room--affectionately known as the Jury Box--resembled nothing so much as a high school cafeteria, writ large. We were all older, sure, with expensive haircuts and finely tailored suits. The food was a lot better, and it was served on fine china, classic white with a platinum border. And then there was the view. Instead of a track or football field, our windows overlooked the grand expanse of Fifth Avenue and Central Park. No trophy cases or spirit banners, either, just a vast Ellsworth Kelly painting and a few signed Chuck Close prints adorning the otherwise stark white wall. But these were just trophies of a different sort.—The Partner Track by Helen Wan (St. Martin's Griffin [paperback], 2014, p. 1)
- Setting: New York City; modern times
- Circumstances: As Ingrid Young fights to make partner, she begins to wonder if she will advance on her merits or because she is a two-fer: a first-generation Chinese American and a woman. When an uncomfortable situation arises, she is forced to question the real costs of advancement in a white man's world.
- Characters: Ingrid and her family; various fellow lawyers and clients; a love interest
- Genre: contemporary fiction; women's fiction
- Themes: family; ambition; corporate America; enduring discrimination; immigration; ethics
- What reviewers have said: most reviews have mentioned the well-developed characters and the realism of Ingrid's situation; several mentioned Wan's use of humor to lighten the serious story line
- A bit about the author: Helen Wan is herself a Chinese American lawyer and thus writes from a place of experience, although the book is entirely fiction. For an interview in which Wan talks about the book and herself, watch the BookGirl video on YouTube. More about Wan and her novel can be found on her website.
- Recommendations: I haven't even started The Partner Track, but it looks like it would make a great book club pick based on the issues Ingrid faces.