A woman stops at nothing to get the life—and love—she wants in this unsettling coming-of-age about ambition and deceit.
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Why I love it
Jenna Bush Hager
Co-host, TODAY with Hoda & Jenna
Ivy isn’t your typical heroine. She’s got a bit of an honesty problem and she loves to steal. As I turned the pages of this excellent debut, I found myself rooting for Ivy the whole way. But that didn’t mean I always liked or agreed with her choices.
We meet Ivy when she’s a teenager, determined to fit into the white Protestant suburban community in which she’s growing up. A child of the Chinese diaspora, Ivy strives to obtain the glamorous life she associates with the American Dream—no matter what it takes. Her obsession with assimilation culminates in a plot to become friends with her crush Gideon, who epitomizes everything sparkly about suburban wealth. On the outside, he and his family appear to have it all. But when Ivy reunites with him as an adult, cracks begin to appear in this perfect façade—and in hers.
White Ivy is a juicy and fun read with a shocking twist. It’s a coming-of-age novel that will lead to conversations about otherness and ambition. Best of all it will leave you with questions about how and where we look for happiness, which feels like an ever-more pressing preoccupation in these trying times.
Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her. Raised outside of Boston, she is taught how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops by her immigrant grandmother. 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, where 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 she 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.
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