“A truly addictive read” (Glamour) about how a young woman’s crush on a privileged former classmate becomes a story of love, lies, and dark obsession, offering stark insights into the immigrant experience, as it hurtles to its electrifying ending in this “twisty, unputdownable, psychological thriller” (People).
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 “highly entertaining,” (The Washington Post) “propulsive debut” (San Francisco Chronicle) that offers a glimpse into the dark side of a woman who yearns for success at any cost.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A female antihero can be mighty hard to resist—and the deliciously evil Ivy Lin is one of the best we’ve read lately. Debut author Susie Yang’s unapologetic protagonist is a Chinese immigrant whose grandmother taught her how to steal when she was little. As a Harvard undergrad, Ivy also became an expert liar, and post graduation, she’s ready to focus her skills on the thing she covets most: handsome Gideon Speyer and his politically connected family’s rich, privileged lifestyle. White Ivy is a tense thriller that literally made us grip our phone with sweaty palms. While Ivy proves there’s nothing she won’t do to fit in with New England’s Waspy elite, Yang colors in the lines of her ruthless and charismatic lead with pitch-perfect cynicism. Like a thoroughly modern updating of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, Ivy is an awful person who does awful things. But Ivy’s actions also reflect the heartlessness of her marks—and we’re here for it.
Nonchalant deceit and reluctant honesty undergird generational struggle in Yang's excellent debut. Ivy Lin doesn't remember her parents' leaving her in China in 1982 when she was two years old to be cared for by her grandmother, Meifeng. But Ivy's cold, unloving reunion with her parents in Boston when she's five makes permanent the chasm already within the family. Only when Meifeng moves as well, two years later, does Ivy find some comfort and companionship. As Ivy grows into a tempestuous 14-year-old, her and Meifeng's trips to Goodwill and yard sales come with lessons in stealing: "give with one hand and take with the other," Meifeng tells her. "No one will be watching both." Then Ivy meets a politician's son, golden boy Gideon Speyer. Her crush on him blossoms into obsession, and after Ivy's parents discover she has been sneaking out with boys from the neighborhood, they send her to spend the summer in China. She returns with renewed resolve to defy her parents' expectations and to become a part of Gideon's life and high-class social circles. After Ivy's mother loses her job, the family relocates to New Jersey, and Ivy spends more time near Gideon after high school. But after Gideon proposes and her presumed happily-ever-after nears, Ivy's past mistakes catch up to her, and she must choose between family and social status. In Ivy, Yang has created an ambitious and sharp yet believably flawed heroine who will win over any reader, and the accomplished plot is layered and full of revelations. This is a beguiling and shattering coming-of-age story.