A young mother from a poor background pulls every string she can to give her son a shot at high society. Yet after she gets him into a ritzy private school, she finds she’s playing a dangerous game she cannot win. It’s Taiwan’s “Mean Girls for Moms” with a dark side.
Chen Yun-Hsien has fought her whole life to become more than a noodle-seller’s daughter: she went to college, married into economic security, and now has an intelligent young son in whom to invest hope. She will do anything to advance the boy’s prospects.
Just as her husband’s career appears to be faltering, and her own return to the job market seems like more trouble than it’s worth, a golden opportunity falls into her lap: her son attends a birthday party for her husband’s boss’s son, and the two boys become fast friends. Their friendship is so strong that the other boy’s wealthy parents offer to pay tuition for Yun-Hsien’s son at a ritzy private school. Finally, Yun-Hsien and her boy appear to have vaulted into the upper echelons of high society – high tea, expensive parties, the whole nine yards. Yet behind the scenes, invisible hands with a rapacious agenda are catching mother and son in a web they cannot escape.
Wu Xiaole’s second novel is a Taiwanese “Mean Girls for Moms” with a sinister twist: beneath the hyperbolic, almost farcical scenes of insane wealth is a biting criticism of class and gender stereotypes in Taiwan. We witness a woman who believes she is climbing a ladder actually dig her own grave, as the quid pro quo rules of upper-class society eventually come to take her as collateral.