by Susie Yang
Published November 3, 2020 by Simon & Schuster
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Literary Fiction | Mystery & Thrillers
Today we bring you a tale that is making waves in the book club fiction market – Susie Yang’s debut novel, White Ivy. Chelsey and Desiree each had the chance to preview the story. We think you’ll be intrigued by their unique and different takes on this book. Read on for With a Book in Our Hand’s interview with these fabulously bookish ladies!
With a Book in Our Hand: Desiree, tell us what the story is about.
Desiree: A multi-faceted novel, White Ivy is partly a coming-of-age story, partly the account of an immigrant trying to fit-in in America, partly a new-adult yarn, and a bit of a chilling, gothic romance. Ivy, who moves to the U.S. when she is just five years old, is a girl who ultimately is just trying to fit in. As her parents had to start-over when arriving in Boston, Ivy’s family doesn’t have a lot of money, but all Ivy wants is to own all the same things her classmates do, and feel like a “real” American girl. Her crush on Gideon, a boy at school, epitomizes her struggles and longing, as she views him and his family as if they are gilded and golden and everything she wishes her poor immigrant family could be.
Just when Ivy thinks she is “this close” to being “seen” by Gideon, she suffers a humiliation that is excruciating to her teenage mind, and then is also unexpectedly ripped from the rose-colored life in Boston that she loves.
Fast-forward more than a decade, Ivy is reacquainted with Gideon and his brightly-lit world. More determined than ever to keep Gideon and his sparkling upper-class world within her grasp, Ivy faces life-altering choices that she never expected.
With a Book in Our Hand: What did you ladies think of the novel?
Chelsey: This was an intriguing debut and a solid three star read for me. The novel spans most of Ivy’s adolescence and young adult life. My interest waxed and waned with the various parts and my disdain for Ivy grew considerably as the story unfolded. Ivy was selfish, flaky, and lacked empathy. Part of me loves disliking the main character so I actually didn’t mind that I found Ivy unappealing. Her relationships intrigued me and Ivy was like a chameleon with who and what she was with each person.
Desiree: I completely agree with you on that, Chelsey – Ivy was rather unlikeable at times. However, I really found myself loving this novel. White Ivy is a tour de force of remarkable prose – I think I burned out the battery on my Kindle just from highlighting memorable passages as they poured forth from Ivy’s mind and heart. Not to mention that Ivy’s cranky mother Nan and beloved grandmother Meifang who have a meaningful saying of wisdom for any and every situation – and they aren’t shy about telling Ivy what they think. I couldn’t put this one down!
Ivy kept me on my toes throughout this tale – I was never quite sure what she was going to do next. I was metaphorically biting my nails throughout! This book was a strong contender for five stars, as I was enraptured from the beginning, yet there were two issues I just couldn’t get over: 1) There was a side-story two-thirds of the way through that, in my opinion, was left as a loose end; and 2) I just couldn’t reconcile the ending – to put it plainly, I didn’t “get” why Ivy made the choice in the end that she did. I felt, in regard to Ivy, that she could be the actor in that once-famous TV commercial puzzling, “What’s my motivation”.
That said, I will confidently say that this was a very well-written and supremely engaging novel that is well worth reading. An impressive debut by author Susie Yang. I’ll be very much looking forward to what she does next!
With a Book in Our Hand: Anything else that you’d like to let our subscribers know before we wrap up?
White Ivy will be available in stores on Tuesday, November 3rd, in both hardcover and audio CD editions. Please consider purchasing through BookShop.org – the online bookstore that gives away 75% of its profit to support local indie bookstores. (Note: I do receive a small commission should you purchase through this link, however, I share this out of my unabashed love for local, corner bookstores everywhere, rather than for any profit potential.)
Chelsey: Drop us a Comment below and let us know your thoughts on this review, as well as Susie Yang’s White Ivy – we’d love to hear from you!