Book Reviews

White Ivy by Susie Yang: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

White Ivy by Susie Yang

Expected publication November 3rd, 2020 by Simon & Schuster.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A dazzling debut novel about a young woman’s dark obsession with her privileged classmate and the lengths she’ll go to win his love

Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her. Raised outside of Boston, she is taught how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops by her immigrant grandmother. Thieving allows Ivy to accumulate the trappings of a suburban teen—and, most importantly, to attract the attention of Gideon Speyer, the golden boy of a wealthy political family. But when Ivy’s mother discovers her trespasses, punishment is swift and Ivy is sent to China, where her dream instantly evaporates.

Years later, Ivy has grown into a poised yet restless young woman, haunted by her conflicting feelings about her upbringing and her family. Back in Boston, when she bumps into Sylvia Speyer, Gideon’s sister, a reconnection with Gideon seems not only inevitable—it feels like fate.

Slowly, Ivy sinks her claws into Gideon and the entire Speyer clan by attending fancy dinners and weekend getaways to the Cape. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the nearly perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.

Filled with surprising twists and offering sharp insights into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story, as well as a glimpse into the dark side of a woman who yearns for success at any cost.

Thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

“She would never be able to make this plain, undeviating man understand that the most fragile inner parts of a woman were compiled from a million subtle looks and careless statements from others; this was identity.”

What an utterly fantastic novel! I truly believe White Ivy is about to be the next bestseller of the season. It’s just that good.

White Ivy follows the life of Ivy Lin, a Chinese immigrant who was raised in the United States by her hardworking parents and her grandmother along with her little, American-born brother. Growing up in a working-class neighbourhood only makes the wealthy students from the elite private school her parents send her to more appealing – particularly the golden boy, Gideon Speyer.

But after being sent away for a summer in her early teens to China after being caught shoplifting, Ivy returns to the States to find her family has moved across the country.

“In the same way water trickles into even the tiniest cracks between boulders, her personality had formed into crooked shapes around the hard structure of her Chinese upbringing.”

Nevertheless, her infatuation with her childhood crush never ceases. And her unwavering commitment is rewarded when, years later, she runs into Gideon’s older sister.

But things are never as simple as they seem. Soon enough Ivy finds herself in a complicated web of her own doing. And one not easily disentangled from.

Susie Yang writes with a maturity that makes it almost impossible to believe she is a debut author. The sophistication of her prose belies the novelty of her position. If I were to become a writer I would want to write like Yang; she’s incredibly skilled at the art of weaving words into a story.

Ivy was such an intriguing character!

I was so compelled by the way she saw the world, and how her thoughts influenced the way she behaved in it. Yang manages to write her lead character in such a way that I was both terrified for – and terrified of – her in equal measures. I felt for her, and at the same time was worried about what she was capable of doing, both to herself and to others.

Both the beautiful writing and the intriguing character development gave high expectations for the plot line of this story, particularly how Yang was going to conclude it, and truly, it did not disappoint!

I did find some of the twists predictable. But rather than have that hinder the story; I felt like the only reason I could see where the book was headed was because of how well I had been led to the most fitting conclusion by the expert narration. In the end, everything made sense and felt obvious because that was the result that fits absolutely flawlessly together. Which left me, the reader, feeling utterly satisfied.

“Since the time he’d slapped her across the face, he’d begun to mistake her deception for discretion.”

I think this book is perfect for fans of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. It’s smart, clever, and a unique take on the experience of growing up an immigrant and a woman in today’s America that rings completely true.

What upcoming books do you think are sure to be bestsellers?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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