Rating – 3.88 out of 5
In Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, Lucie Churchill loves Capri but does not like George Zao. The heiress finds his ways too disarming, his knowledge too deep and his mother too Asian. As a half-caucasian, half-American Born Chinese, he reflects back a part of herself that she has always felt she had to hide. Time moves on and so does Lucie to further honor her more blue-blooded roots. As George reenters the picture and shakes some of her beliefs up, Lucie has to come to terms with her ancestry once and for all.
“When we align with the truth of who we are, all things are possible.” ― Kevin Kwan, Sex and Vanity
Kevin Kwan was a breakout star with his Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, which I cannot recommend highly enough. With Sex and Vanity, though, the tone is a little bit different. In the first half of the book, the only comment I had was “Capri and Hot People” because it read a little bit more fluff as it set up for the second act. In the second half of the book, set 5 years after the first half, there were deeper themes of ancestry and belonging. I was happy that Kwan touched on these themes; as a mixed-race person, I know the feeling of being out of sync with your environment, and at times, even with close family members.
Read my reviews of Kevin Kwan’s other books here.
I’m a quarter Japanese, and this quote made me smile – “Can you imagine what our children will look like? Quarter Asians are the most beautiful species in the world” ― Kevin Kwan, Sex and Vanity
The only thing that I had a hard time with was the main character. While I identified with her struggles around identity, I still did not like how she acted. At times I found her to be vain and too focused on what others would say. As things escalated, I was not rooting for her, which was an odd sensation. It made for good drama, to be sure, but this was not my favorite of Kwan’s work.
I recommend this book if you’re looking for a light beach read with beautiful, insanely rich people.
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