May 29, 2019

Searching for Sylvie Lee

"When somebody disappears and does not return within three days, there are usually only four main possibilities: suicide, murder, kidnapping, or flight." ~ pg. 103

Much is to be said about a book named "most anticipated" by publications such as Marie Claire, New York Post, Huffington Post, Book Riot, Goodreads, Popsugar and Thrilllist. The excitement really builds when the description alone is a gripping tale. It is further confirmation when an advance copy is granted by the publisher. Which leads me to this moment...reviewing one of the best books I have read so far in 2019.

Sylvie is the successful older daughter of the Lee family. She was raised by a relative in a foreign place—the only Asians in the area—until she rejoined her family in America at age nine. Too young to understand that her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep her. Far as Sylvie is concerned, she was not invited back home until she was needed to help care for younger sister, Amy.

Amy has always looked up to Sylvie. She showered her big sister with adoration and unconditional love. She is affected the most when Sylvie visits their dying grandmother back home and then disappears. Overcoming her fear of traveling alone, Amy boards a flight and retraces her sister's movements in a foreign land. Nothing is simple; she uncovers deeply rooted family secrets and the painful truth.

"I think that wherever you are, to live in the world as a white person is a completely different experience than a person of color. Discrimination is invisible to them because it does not affect them." ~ pg. 214

Jean Kwok masterfully leads readers down a road of mystery into the lives of a Chinese immigrant family. In Searching for Sylvie Lee, she illustrates how different a situation may be for a non-citizen. How procedures can change on foreign land. How language is a hinderance when not understood or communicated properly. But also, Kwok shows how even families can lose their identity.

The chapters alternate between narrators in a near daily account. Usually this confuses my sometimes simple mind and I tend not to like past-present storytelling with multiple points of view. However, it works in this novel. In fact, the story couldn't have been told any other way. We discover the truth at the same moment the characters do, making this a suspenseful page-turner.

"Efficiency infused with a careless insouciance." ~ pg. 183

Searching for Sylvie Lee was my companion on the treadmill for a good week. I walked for miles and burned hundreds of calories without realizing because I was so into this complicated immigrant family. At just over 300 pages, it is the perfect length. I was not quite ready to let go of the characters but the ending was right on time.

I finished reading with a message loud and clear: culture can divide us. How appropriate in today's times! So if you have not guessed already, I definitely recommend spending your coin on this new family drama/mystery novel by an author of color.

Happy Early Pub Day, Jean Kwok! It was so nice to interact with you on Twitter. Searching for Sylvie Lee will be available Tuesday, June 4.

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Searching for Sylvie Lee
Author: Jean Kwok
Published: June 2019
Pages: 304
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

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