White Ivy by Susie Yang

Wow — this was an incredible read. White Ivy is the story of a young Chinese-American girl who grows into a selfish and amibitous young woman. It is a fascinating look at race and social class, with an emphasis on white privilege and what it means to be privileged and why that privilege is so alluring. I wanted to like Ivy as a character, but I honestly didn’t, as I felt she was incredibly self-centered and self-serving. Don’t look for redemption or pureness of heart in this novel — it is somewhat dark, at times almost gritty, and yet so true in its depictions and story that you can’t help but be awed by it. An incredible first novel, Yang has a way or presenting action in a paragraph and then ending with a sentence or two of analysis that gets right to the core of the emotion and motives of the characters.

Unforgettable — definitely will be on my top reads list of 2020.

Thank you for my review copy!

Description

***LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION’S FIRST NOVEL PRIZE***

From prizewinning Chinese American author Susie Yang, this dazzling coming-of-age novel about a young woman’s dark obsession with her privileged classmate offers sharp insights into the immigrant experience.

Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her.

Raised outside of Boston, Ivy’s immigrant grandmother relies on Ivy’s mild appearance for cover as she teaches her granddaughter how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops. 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, and 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 Ivy 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 a nuanced exploration of class and race, White Ivy is a glimpse into the dark side of a woman who yearns for success at any cost.

THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH by Lindsey Lee Johnson

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Here’s another book that I’ve just been waiting and waiting for Pub Day for so that I can tell you about it! I got it on Net Galley months ago and read it in a day.

Now to be honest, I’m not sure I’d compare it to Celeste Ng’s novel (which I loved) and I guess it can be like PREP as it’s about wealthy kids in high school. I also wouldn’t say, as someone does, that it reads like Jane Austen. I, however, found it fascinating because you can watch the trajectory that this teacher is on in terms of her behavior and her actions and even her motivations and you just want to stop her because things are headed for a cataclysm.

If you’ve forgotten what high school was like (really? can anyone, ever?) or if you want to revisit it, especially through the eyes of a young and impressionable (though well-meaning but naive) teacher, pick up this book!

Here’s the look/see from NG:

Description

Recognition

January 2017 Indie Next selection
January 2017 LibraryReads selection