Happy New Year and welcome back to my blog for my first post of 2021! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year (under the circumstances) and I wish you all the very best as we start the new year with tougher restrictions and lockdowns, and the prospect of the dreaded homeschooling!! Just make sure the wine rack is fully stocked!! 😂 My plan is to escape into my books, and on that note, here is my latest review.
Headline publishers very kindly sent me a copy of White Ivy by Susie Yang, which I finished just before Christmas and I absolutely loved it! Here are the details …
The blurb …
Ivy Lin, a chinese immigrant growing up in a low-income apartment complex outside Boston, is desperate to assimilate with her American peers. Her parents disapprove, berating her for her mediocre grades and what they see as her lazy, entitled attitude. But Ivy has a secret weapon, her grandmother Meifeng, from whom she learns to shoplift to get the things she needs to fit in.
Ivy develops a taste for winning and for wealth. As an adult, she reconnects with the blong-haired golden boy of a prominent political family, and thinks it’s fate. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the almost-perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.
Filled with surprising twists, and offering sharp insight into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story – as well as a dark glimpse at what can happen when we yearn for success at any cost.
My thoughts …
‘Ivy Lin is a thief – but you’d never know it by looking at her’
What a fantastic debut novel. I was gripped by this brilliantly written, dark and twisty literary novel.
Ivy Lin was born in China, but at the age of five immigrated to America with her parents and baby brother. Ivy is very close to her grandmother Meifeng, who helped raise her while they were in China, but Meifeng has a nasty shoplifting habit, which she passes on to Ivy.
As Ivy grows up she feels that she is just a nondescript plain, poor Asian girl and all she wants is to fit in with the young american girls in her class. Unfortunately, Ivy’s relationship with her parents is strained as they are very strict and have struggled to acclimatise to the American lifestyle. She longs to escape her family’s way of life, she aspires to a higher social class. As a result, Ivy starts stealing the things she needs to blend in, and which she knows her mother will refuse to buy her, such as makeup, bras, tampons and clothes. She develops a crush on the school heartthrob Gideon Speyer but just as she is settling into his friendship group, she is devastated when her family decides to relocate. She thinks she will never see Gideon again, however, their paths cross as adults and Ivy realises she has another chance to be with him, but in order to be successful, she has to reinvent herself, and all is going swimmingly until her past comes back to bite her!
‘If there was anything she prided herself on other than being a thief, it was being a first rate liar’.
I really loved this book. I find immigrant stories fascinating, how the characters try to adjust to a different country, language and culture and how the older generations naturally have a massively different experience to the younger generations.
The storytelling is brilliant and I was hooked right from the beginning I couldn’t wait to see how things would turn out for Ivy and how she would navigate all of her dysfunctional relationships.
The characterisation is superb throughout and I hate to admit that I loved Ivy’s brilliantly flawed character, I found myself understanding her need to be accepted and desire to better herself, and almost empathising with her – but only up to a point – as her behaviour deteriorates and she starts to lose control.
The story reminded me a little of some other favourites of mine, ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ and ‘The Secret History’ in the way that Ivy reinvents herself and changes her ambitions to fit in with Gideon’s upper class American lifestyle, and how she will stop at nothing to get what she wants, but also in the outstanding, suspenseful writing style.
I highly recommend this book, it’s hard to believe that it’s a debut, and I’m really looking forward to following Susie Yang’s work.
Thank you so much to Headline/Wildfire Books for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author …
Susie Yang was born in China and came to the United States as a child. After receiving her doctorate of pharmacy from Rutgers University, she launched a tech startup in San Fransico that has taught twenty thousand people how to code. She has studied creative writing at Tin House and Sackett Street. She has lived across the United States, Europe and Asia and now resides in the UK. White Ivy is her first novel.
Thanks for reading!