Searching for Sylvie Lee



Searching for Sylvie LeeA Poignant And Suspenseful Drama That Untangles The Complicated Ties Binding Three Women Two Sisters And Their Mother In One Chinese Immigrant Family And Explores What Happens When The Eldest Daughter Disappears, And A Series Of Family Secrets Emerge, From The New York Times Bestselling Author Of Girl In TranslationIt Begins With A Mystery Sylvie, The Beautiful, Brilliant, Successful Older Daughter Of The Lee Family, Flies To The Netherlands For One Final Visit With Her Dying Grandmother And Then Vanishes.Amy, The Sheltered Baby Of The Lee Family, Is Too Young To Remember A Time When Her Parents Were Newly Immigrated And Too Poor To Keep Sylvie Seven Years Older, Sylvie Was Raised By A Distant Relative In A Faraway, Foreign Place, And Didn T Rejoin Her Family In America Until Age Nine Timid And Shy, Amy Has Always Looked Up To Her Sister, The Fierce And Fearless Protector Who Showered Her With Unconditional Love.But What Happened To Sylvie Amy And Her Parents Are Distraught And Desperate For Answers Sylvie Has Always Looked Out For Them Now, It S Amy S Turn To Help Terrified Yet Determined, Amy Retraces Her Sister S Movements, Flying To The Last Place Sylvie Was Seen But Instead Of Simple Answers, She Discovers Something Much Valuable The Truth Sylvie, The Golden Girl, Kept Painful Secrets Secrets That Will Reveal About Amy S Complicated Family And Herself Than She Ever Could Have Imagined.A Deeply Moving Story Of Family, Secrets, Identity, And Longing, Searching For Sylvie Lee Is Both A Gripping Page Turner And A Sensitive Portrait Of An Immigrant Family It Is A Profound Exploration Of The Many Ways Culture And Language Can Divide Us And The Impossibility Of Ever Truly Knowing Someone Especially Those We Love.

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  • Hardcover
  • 336 pages
  • Searching for Sylvie Lee
  • Jean Kwok
  • English
  • 19 May 2017
  • 9780062834300

10 thoughts on “Searching for Sylvie Lee

  1. Jean Kwok says:

    I m so thankful for your interest in SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE, which was an instant NYT bestseller and chosen as The Today Show Book Club Pick Check out the recent NYT article , plus there s an excerpt and a book club guide with discussion questions and recipes Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and rate I hope very much that you like it and I am so grateful to you for being my readers.

  2. Diane S ☔ says:

    It is so hard to figure out why a book will resonate so greatly with some, and not others This book is a case in point, it has garnered some terrific reviews, but there were some plot points that were for me, not realistic A young Chinese woman disappears after returning to the Netherlands, when the grandmother that helped raise her, was dying Although her parents lived in the United States, Sylvie herself lived in the Netherlands for her first nine years Her younger sister, Amy, who thinks Sylvie perfect, flies to the Netherlands to find out what happened to her sister.In alternating chapters we hear from Amy, Sylvie herself and their mother Changing views of Sylvie are revealed from her own words There are many family secrets, and a suspected hidden treasures passed down from mother to daughter Jealousy, and its ill effects, an ugliness that spreads The struggle for immigrants to assimilate Yet, I had trouble connecting to the characters We do find out what happened to Sylvie and why, though I didn t feel I was given enough reasons to find the ending credible.ARC from librarything.

  3. Nilufer Ozmekik says:

    Four full, surprising , heartbreaking ,mysterious ,twisty, tearful stars A real well written novel questions so many important issues from immigrant problems to partly racism, discrimination, from devoted love hate sisterhood relationships to childhood crush, from inequality between men and women at work places to a husband s betrayal and abuse It s a real gripping story, told by two sisters and mother As soon as we read mother s part, we realize that their own daughter s have no idea about her feelings, her past, her anxiety about future They don t know the real her And both sisters seem like having a tight bond between them, they re jealous of each other Mother s language is Chinese, Amy s is English and Sylvie s is Dutch So mother and her daughters are literally having real communication problems It s not hard to see they keep everything bottomed inside and don t share with each other And when Sylvie is disappeared, Amy realizes she doesn t know her sister any Sylvie is separated from her husband and before she was leaving for Netherlands to her important job task, she was actually fired and she left the country to see her dying grandmother who has raised her till she is 9 As long as I keep reading I wish Sylvie could be found or she could have her HEA I know it was too optimistic approach because this is heartbreaking, thrilling and mostly pessimistic book which hurts you too many times with the intense, angsty, emotional tests all three women have endured And the final revelations, the surprises, secrets, lies , twists that not so much foreseeable at least I couldn t find it Mostly I m a good detective shake your world A great family drama mystery and thriller ugly cry women story The mystery about Sylvie was not concluded as I thought That part was a little disappointed me so I cut the only star from that part But mostly it s remarkable, effective and one of the greatest books of the year

  4. Bkwmlee says:

    I m between 3.5 and 4 stars on this one so I ll round up.This was a compelling story about a Chinese immigrant family and the struggles they go through to create a life for themselves in a new country where, despite their best efforts, they never truly feel that they belong Sylvie Lee is the beautiful and successful older daughter who was sent off to live with her grandmother and her cousin s family in the Netherlands when she was only a few months old despite being reunited with her parents when she turned nine, the time away unfortunately had a lasting effect on Sylvie s relationship with her parents especially with her mother Amy Lee is the baby of the family only 2 years old when Sylvie returned to her parents, Amy s timid and shy nature contrasted sharply with Sylvie s bold and fearless personality, yet the two sisters developed an unbreakable bond To Amy, Sylvie was her fiercest protector, a sister she adored and looked up to and, in some ways, became of a mother to her than their own parents, who were constantly absent due to work One day, after flying back to the Netherlands to pay their dying grandmother one final visit, Sylvie vanishes without a trace Distraught, yet determined to find her sister, Amy flies to the Netherlands and retraces Sylvie s steps she soon discovers that there was another side to her sister she never knew about At the same time, the awkwardness of her cousin s family leads Amy to believe that they might be hiding something, perhaps having to do with Sylvie In her desperation to find her sister and convinced that she is racing against time, Amy ramps up her search, which leads her to discover a devastating family secret one that, when ultimately revealed, threatens to tear the family apart What happened to Sylvie Lee And what role, if any, did her family have in her disappearance The first half of the story definitely had me enthralled and kept me turning the pages, not wanting to put the book down for even a minute Being a Chinese immigrant myself, I was definitely able to resonate with the various challenges that the Lee family went through as they tried to assimilate to life in the U.S the cultural divide between the parents and the children due to the drastically different environments in which they were raised, the impact of language and the communication barriers that can arise within the family as a result of differences in language, the never ending struggle to prove yourself, to show that your parents sacrifices were not in vain, the frustrations of constantly having to deal with the bias, prejudices, and preconceived stereotypes of a society that is less welcoming to those who are different from them, the sense that you will never truly belong no matter how successful you become or how well you are able to align yourself with your surroundings This was the side of the story that drew me in the most and I felt it was very effective to have the narration alternate between Amy, Sylvie, and their mother, as we get to understand this family and each of the characters much in depth With all that said though, the middle section was where things started to drag a little and while it did pick back up in the end, I had actually already figured out most of the story by then, so it unfortunately made the ending anti climactic for me I also felt that the parts of the story related to the mystery aspect, specifically dealing with Sylvia s disappearance, felt a bit detached and lacked the emotional pull I expected when we do eventually find out what happened and why, it felt rushed and the emotional aspect seemed like it was glossed over a bitthis was especially so during the big reveal scene at the very end In a way, I felt like perhaps there was a bit too much going on plot wise in the second half of the book, which caused the narrative to unravel a bit as the story headed toward its end As a mystery thriller novel, I felt this didn t work too well, as the suspense part was a bit weak in my opinion I never really got the edge of your seat hold on for the ride feel from this one The cultural elements were well done though and I feel like those elements, along with the writing, were what made this story well worth reading, plus the fact that I was able to get a good feel for the characters and connect with them Overall, this was a thought provoking read and even though I wasn t too keen on the mystery suspense aspect, I felt it did a good job exploring the challenges of being both an immigrant and a woman of color in today s world This is my first time reading Jean Kwok s work and of course it won t be my last I ve had both of her previous novels on my TBR for quite some time already and I definitely intend to get to them at some point After I finished this book, I did some follow up research and found out that Kwok s inspiration for the story came from her own family background as well as the tragedy her family experienced losing her older brother Kwan in a plane crash 10 years ago Channeling the pain and grief from that experience, plus her own story of immigrating from Hong Kong to the U.S as a child and later moving to the Netherlands, Kwok was able to deliver a poignant, culturally resonant story, one that I definitely recommend Received ARC from William Morrow HarperCollins via Edelweiss.

  5. Katrina says:

    I found Searching for Sylvie Lee an enthralling, thought provoking and emotional read This book combines gorgeous, literary prose with a powerfully suspenseful plot As the characters navigate multiple languages and cultures, and the web of relationships that holds them together grows complex, the novel s insights about family, culture, gender and love rise to the surface, surprising and delighting the reader The book begins as Amy discovers that something has gone terribly wrong with her gorgeous, successful older sister Sylvie and embarks on a journey to try and piece together the mystery As Amy traces Sylvie s footsteps across the world to the Netherlands, the country in which her sister was raised for the first few years of her life, she begins to uncover secrets and deceptions with far reaching consequences for herself and her family, as well as discovering new potential and new abilities of her own I particularly loved the delicate and nuanced depiction of the relationships between the two sisters, Sylvie and Amy, their mother, and their aunt and the questions this depiction raised for me about the faces we show to family and the parts of ourselves that we choose to or try to keep hidden from those we love This is a novel which captures an entire world within its pages It was an absolute joy to read

  6. Tucker says:

    Many thanks to William Morrow for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one s own Willa Cather Searching For Sylvie Lee is of a family drama than a thriller While it did have its unsettling scenes, I felt that this novel went deeper into family and siblings than the mystery itself Though it was, in my opinion, marketed incorrectly, it was still enjoyable Sylvie Sylvie Lee is the perfect girl that almost everyone is jealous of She s a straight A student She gets along with everyone and always dresses impeccably She has not a problem in the world Or does she While Sylvie appears to have her sh t together, she is actually struggling just as much as many other girls her age The pressure from her family is hard enough but she is also trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life This combined with her interesting love story made for an interesting, albeit slightly annoying, character Amy Amy feels like the dud She does not possess the talent and finesse that her sister has Of course, she s not awful She loves baking and has a kind heart Even so, she s constantly living in her sister s shadow which is very frustrating for her She is extremely jealous of Sylvie, which is ironic because Sylvie is jealous of Amy for getting scot free of the pressure and responsibility of being the perfect girlFamily Drama As I mentioned above, this book really isn t a thriller, even though it was marketed as one For example, Paula Hawkins blurbed it which made me super to read it because she almost never blurbs anything And because she blurbed it, I went into it expecting something along the lines of the books she writes As I said, there are thriller y bits but not nearly enough to make this an official thriller No, this book is much of a family drama Secrets, lies, incest You know the drill I personally don t mind family drama but I like it in a much positive, humorous light Think, Crazy Rich Asians I felt like the book was trying too hard to be thrilling and spooky when it had so much juicy drama to work with Just drop the thrill and take the contemporary humor and this book would have gotten five stars instead of three and a half Finally, fact check your genres I m surprised that no one piped up saying this wasn t a thriller CEO So guys, this book is a thriller.Staff 1 10 Nods in agreement Intern I mean, is it It s of a family dramaCEO Shut up, Carl You re fired.Let s focus on the positive Marketing aside, this was still generally enjoyable Yes, I gave it 3.5 stars but I think that it will be a five star read for others It was well paced, in my opinion I loved how the author used time to her advantage Using multiple time jumps, hopping backward and forwards and then back again kept me constantly excited to know what happened next All in all, I did enjoy this book Not enough to warrant four stars or higher but enough to not get a low rating Bottom Line 3.5 StarsRating PG 13 TW view spoiler Suicide hide spoiler

  7. Marjorie says:

    Sylvie Lee is a successful, beautiful woman Her younger sister, Amy, idolizes her When news reaches them that their grandmother is dying in the Netherlands, Sylvie flies there to be with her Sylvie grew up in the Netherlands Her parents were too poor to take care of her when she was born and sent her to live with her grandmother and the Tan family Sylvie didn t return to the US and her parents until she was 9 years old But now Sylvie has returned to the place she thinks of as home But Amy and her parents become deeply upset when Sylvie disappears and they are unable to get any answers as to what happened Shy Amy must find the courage to go find her sister Her search for Sylvie uncovers long concealed family secrets.The book fluctuates between chapters detailing Amy s search for Sylvie and Sylvie telling her story starting a month earlier when she leaves for the Netherlands and occasionally a chapter from their mother s point of view The character development in this book is very good and I cared about this family The author does a particularly good job of detailing the cultural differences and problems this immigrant family faced and the racism shown to the Chinese in the Netherlands But I was disappointed in some respects and felt parts of the books were too much like a soap opera I did not feel that the ending rang true at all and it felt out of place to me.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

  8. DeAnn says:

    4 complicated family relationship starsThis complex book is chronicled by two sisters Amy and Sylvie and their mother I hardly know how to start to explain this one This Chinese immigrant family has ties to the Netherlands and New York Sylvie was raised by her grandmother and other relatives in the Netherlands before she is reunited with her parents in New York at age 9 She never quite feels at home anywhere and has developed a beautiful successful persona that she hides behind Her grandmother is dying, so Sylvie heads to the Netherlands to say goodbye and then mysteriously disappears.Amy begins the desperate search and ends up finding deep family secrets Amy wants to track down her beloved older sister Sylvie and the suspense builds as we read about Sylvie s time reuniting with family and old friends before everyone loses track of her.I enjoyed the chapters narrated by the mother and it becomes clear that her daughters don t know her very well In fact, the whole family seems to hold things in reserve and keeps secrets There is also the complicated theme of identity and this family never quite seems at home, either in New York or the Netherlands.What has happened to Sylvie is at the heart of the story and as you near the end of the book, strong feelings collide, and the truth finally emerges These characters stayed in my subconscious as I had a dream about them I recommend this one if you like character driven fiction and strong writing.Thank you to NetGalley, Jean Kwok, and Harper Collins for an advanced copy to read in exchange for a review.

  9. Patricia says:

    SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE is a beautifully written novel that left me thinking of the problems facing immigrants or anyone who is trying to fit in Told by two sisters and their mother, this book is about a heart breaking tragedy which occurs when family secrets are revealed I highly recommend this book

  10. Jessica Woodbury says:

    I love a domestic drama and I love a multi perspective one even Until the last third or so this was very much right in my wheelhouse I suspect the things that dropped it down a star for me may not matter that much to other readers Or maybe they ll matter even Who s to say I particularly enjoy a domestic drama that takes me to a new place with interesting characters This book definitely delivered The Lee family is complicated than you d expect While in some ways they are the immigrant family you ve seen before, there is one major difference Sylvie, the oldest child, spent the first 9 or so years of her life living with relatives in Holland, while her parents were in New York And it is while she s in Holland for the last days of her Grandmother s life that Sylvie goes missing and her sister Amy sets out to find her The story is made up of Amy s story trying to figure out where her sister is, Sylvie s story from the weeks before she disappeared, and occasional interludes from their Mother s point of view at various points in time Amy, who is still a young adult, realizes through her search that she has never really considered the specific pressures and traumas Sylvie has experienced, from being separated from her family to her constant successes in education and career I really enjoyed getting to see Amy open up her ideas about her sister Besides the ending, the main issue I had with the last third of the book is that by that point I cared much about Sylvie s story than Amy s I actually began to lose sight of Amy all together, since so much of her story is about Sylvie, she begins to blend into the background While this is a story about Sylvie, Amy s perspective and voice is crucial and loses some of its best qualities for me Finally, one of the reveals in the actual ending is my Absolute Least Favorite Plot Twist If I hadn t encountered this particular twist before I would probably be forgiving, after all, I feel like this book handles the twist better than any other story I ve seen It s actually earned here rather than thrown in gratuitously But even that earning of it makes it pretty obvious ahead of time, so I spent a long time hoping that would not be the reveal and then the rest being mad that this was the reveal The actual reveal itself is sloppy and didn t ring true to me, either And the reveal itself in Amy s story turns into something you d see at the end of a mystery novel where everyone elaborately explains everything to you and we lose a lot of action for expository dialogue Structurally the last third feels pretty flawed to me, which is a bigger deal in a book where there s a big central question than in a lot of others.

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