Win Me Something
A perceptive and powerful debut of identity and belonging—of a young woman determined to be seen.
Willa Chen has never quite fit in. Growing up as a biracial Chinese American girl in New Jersey, Willa felt both hypervisible and unseen, too Asian to fit in at her mostly white school, and too white to speak to the few Asian kids around. After her parents’ early divorce, they both remarried and started new families, and Willa grew up feeling outside of their new lives, too.
For years, Willa does her best to stifle her feelings of loneliness, drifting through high school and then college as she tries to quiet the unease inside her. But when she begins working for the Adriens—a wealthy white family in Tribeca—as a nanny for their daughter, Bijou, Willa is confronted with all of the things she never had. As she draws closer to the family and eventually moves in with them, Willa finds herself questioning who she is, and revisiting a childhood where she never felt fully at home. Self-examining and fraught with the emotions of a family who fails and loves in equal measure, Win Me Something is a nuanced coming-of-age debut about the irreparable fissures between people, and a young woman who asks what it really means to belong, and how she might begin to define her own life.
“Wu’s beautifully observed coming-of-age tale is a poignant and lyrical meditation on navigating the world with a fragmented sense of self.”
“In Win Me Something, Kyle Lucia Wu examines the biracial experience with razor sharp precision, nuance, and profound feeling. Her prose radiates off the page, with every color, character, and scrap of food animating the world of this story, all of it asking who, and what, is of value in America? I love the gentle candor of Wu’s prose, the sneaky devastation. Her debut is a resonant knockout.”
—T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
“Masterfully reveals the fury, hope, and longing that come with trying to be seen in a world that never looks for you.”
—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk
“Win Me Something is an observant, contemplative story about the complex reality of growing up with a mixed identity in two starkly different mixed families. Kyle Lucia Wu deftly weaves back and forth between Willa’s teenaged years and her adult life to explore loneliness, uncertainty, and a singular, persistent question—where do I truly belong?”
—Crystal Hana Kim, author of If You Leave Me
“Kyle Lucia Wu’s Win Me Something is groundbreaking in its exploration of blended families and a biracial Asian American consciousness. In subtle but strikingly observed scenes that depict race, class, and lives of having and not having, she explores the secret want that we all have: to belong to something, somewhere. Here we find Willa, a biracial Chinese American narrator seeking to understand where she belongs in the family of things. Here is a prose writer who relishes in the poetry of language. Under Wu’s deft hand, each sentence unfolds like a miracle.”
—Cathy Linh Che, author of Split
“Taut, engrossing, and masterfully observed, Win Me Something announces a powerful and luminescent new literary voice in Kyle Lucia Wu.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“Like a latter-day Willa Cather, after whom her protagonist is named, Kyle Lucia Wu has written a beautiful novel about a fiercely American young woman whose Americanness is constantly questioned by those around her. This is a sad, funny, and tender coming-of-age story about what family and belonging means for someone who is realizing that she is constantly watched but not truly seen.”
—David Burr Gerrard, author of The Epiphany Machine