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Natural Beauty

By Ling Ling Huang
Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

Longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel

Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Fiction

Sly, surprising, and razor-sharp, Natural Beauty follows a young musician into an elite, beauty-obsessed world where perfection comes at a staggering cost.

Our narrator produces a sound from the piano no one else at the Conservatory can. She employs a technique she learned from her parents—also talented musicians—who fled China in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. But when an accident leaves her parents debilitated, she abandons her future for a job at a high-end beauty and wellness store in New York City.
Holistik is known for its remarkable products and procedures—from remoras that suck out cheap Botox to eyelash extensions made of spider silk—and her new job affords her entry into a world of privilege and gives her a long-awaited sense of belonging. She becomes transfixed by Helen, the niece of Holistik’s charismatic owner, and the two strike up a friendship that hazily veers into more. All the while, our narrator is plied with products that slim her thighs, smooth her skin, and lighten her hair. But beneath these creams and tinctures lies something sinister.
A piercing, darkly funny debut, Natural Beauty explores questions of consumerism, self-worth, race, and identity—and leaves readers with a shocking and unsettling truth.

368 Reviews

Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes
Diverse charactersMulti-layered charactersDescriptive writingAddictiveSuspensefulUnpredictableDark settingDarkThought-provoking
Thinking Face
Beautifully writtenDescriptive writingEasy to readBeautiful settingDarkAbuseRacismSelf-harmSexual assaultUnsatisfying plot
Surprised Face with Open Mouth“There were aspects of this book that felt very fresh and modern. The bits about the pursuit of someone else’s definition of beauty, the exploration or belonging from the lens of a second generation immigrant. But the parts that furthered the plot felt a bit forced. I’m excited to read more from this author”
Believable charactersCharacters change and growLikable charactersOriginal writingFast-pacedTwistyUnpredictableMisogynyViolence

About Ling Ling Huang

Ling Ling Huang is a writer and violinist. She plays with several ensembles, including the Oregon Symphony, Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, ProMusica, Chamber Orchestra, and the Experiential Orchestra, with whom she won a Grammy Award in 2021. Natural Beauty is her first novel.

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