The Stand-In by Lily Chu || Book Review

Gracie Reed is doing just fine. Sure, she was fired by her overly “friendly” boss, and yes she still hasn’t gotten her mother into the nursing home of their dreams, but she’s healthy, she’s (somewhat) happy, and she’s (mostly) holding it all together.

But when a mysterious SUV pulls up beside her, revealing Chinese cinema’s golden couple Wei Fangli and Sam Yao, Gracie’s world is turned on its head. The famous actress has a proposition: due to their uncanny resemblance, Fangli wants Gracie to be her stand-in. The catch? Gracie will have to be escorted by Sam, the most attractive—and infuriating—man Gracie’s ever met.

If it means getting the money she needs for her mother, Gracie’s in. Soon Gracie moves into a world of luxury she never knew existed. But resisting Sam, and playing the role of an elegant movie star, proves more difficult than she ever imagined—especially when she learns the real reason Fangli so desperately needs her help. In the end all the lists in the world won’t be able to help Gracie keep up this elaborate ruse without losing herself…and her heart.


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Ace Your Age, Eve Brown cover. Blue cover with man and woman hugging, with musical notes in the background.

Title: The Stand-In

Author: Lily Chu

Published on May 3, 2022 by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Format: Paperback, 384 pages

Genre / Themes: Contemporary | Humour | Realistic Fiction | Romance

Rating: 3.75 cups of tea

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Chu’s The Stand-In went above and beyond my expectations! With an absurdly clichéd synopsis, I wasn’t expecting it to be so mindful and emotional.

The Stand-In follows the story of a young woman who’s provided the opportunity to help pay for her mom to have a better home by being a stand-in for a famous actress who she looks identical to, after losing her job. However, the novel’s so much more than a “switcharoo” or “celebrity romance” trope.

The growing bond between the main character, Gracie, and the actress, Wei Fangli, is absolutely beautiful. Their “arrangement” becomes an opportunity to express themselves to one another in ways they haven’t been able to with others. Their shared mental health struggles help them realize that not only are they not alone, but asking for help is courageous and not a sign of weakness.

The characters also go through a lot of work stressors as well, showing issues that still occur today in the workforce, such as burn out and sexual assault in the workforce.

The “forced proximity” trope between Gracie and the oh-so-charming Sam Yao was COMPLETE AND UTTER PERFECTION! Though a bumpy start, the two grow closer each passing day. And they both grow!! They learn from their mistakes and use that as an opportunity to make positive changes … who doesn’t love that!

But my favourite part of this novel was learning more about Gracie’s mother’s past and the hardships Gracie faces as a Chinese-Canadian woman. Gracie faces a lot of hardships fitting in, as she feels not fully Canadian nor Chinese. But watching her grow to love being a Canadian-Chinese woman was inspirational. And her mom’s story just kept me on my toes! I kept getting excited as we learned more and more about her, since Gracie was also discovering these secrets as well.

My ONLY two complaints are: (1) the novel didn’t feel long enough so it felt a little rushed, and (2) a lot of the plot was pretty obvious. But it’s still worth the read!

This was such a joy to read and I was honestly sad when it was over. I cannot wait to read more of Chu’s works!

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Author of Bookmark Your Thoughts, both the Tumblr and WordPress book review blogs. I'm a tea drinking, book loving librarian who just loves literature.

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