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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Such a well written coming-of-age novel. Ivy’s a very nuanced character with relatable flaws, I sympathized with her even in the darkest moments. Somewhat predictable ending but really enjoyed overall
Kansas city, MO
Young Asian American girl trying to fit in, trying to find her place in life.. and willing to do whatever it takes to find her place. Approval from family & friends— has an amazing twist at the end
Simpsonville , SC
Incredible debut novel by Susie Yang!! Ivy is a very complex girl and goes thru so much in this book. She wants so much to be part of the in group and makes many bad decisuons ti attain this goal.
Kings Mountain, NC
Susie Yang has created a story that keeps the reader questioning the end. Ivy has decided what her adulthood life will be but is it really what she wants and how far will she go to obtain this life.
This book was a wild ride. Ivy was incredibly complex yet somehow I was still rooting for her. Roux seemed to be her twin flame and as for Gideon I can not believe I didn’t see that twist coming.
New York, NY
Amazing story, very original and well written. I don't want to use the term "slow burn" because I was immediately captivated but the second part of the book is more of a page-turner. Really enjoyed!
With an ending that was predictable mid book and some very questionable decisions, I still felt compelled to cheer on Ivy through this coming-of-age story tying family with the quest for happiness.
Wonderfully written and suspenseful! Once I got half way I just HAD to finish it and the last few pages I DID NOT put together until the very end. Great book, horrible character, loved her anyway!
Shelby Twp, MI
This had me at the edge of my seat for most of the book. Though the characters are all quite unlikeable, I found myself invested in finding out where their (often poor) decisions were leading.
I really loved this book until the twists near the end. A great story on the struggles to be an immigrant child and the pressures of both family and American culture including love and success.
Wow - this book! I really didn’t like Ivy - she twisted me up in knots. However, her story was incredible! I’m going to be thinking about her for a long time. This book was amazing!
Laguna Vista, TX
I absolutely loved this book. I read most of it in one sitting! Idid not like Gideon at all, but realized it was the lifestyle she was more attracted to. His sister was interesting as well!
I never thought this book would end the way it did. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t put the book down all day. I didn’t want it to end. Looks are deceiving.
Paterson , NJ
I loved the tone of this book. It talks about class divides and love and family and fate so honestly without sugarcoating anything. It is dark and real and tells a really good story.
I knew where the ending was going when I got to the last couple of chapters but wow it got me anyway. The main character isn’t perfect and I really appreciated the honesty of it.
New York, NY
You really felt like you were living through Ivy's conflict. It was never clear what choices she was going to make. Kept me guessing and intrigued throughout the whole book.
If you’re someone who loves heavier contemporaries or unlikable characters, this is the book for you and on top of everything else, Susie Yang’s prose is incredible!
Lyndhurst , OH
A little long, but the final 100 pages were full of shock, revelation and self discovery so raw, I’m wishing BOTM had a post-reading processing session for this book.
Loved this book! A fantastic example of literary fiction led by an unlikeable female character, but one you root for. Thought-provoking and phenomenal writing style!
Seattle , WA
Loved this book. Ivy was such an interesting but manipulative character. She was unlikable but I really enjoyed her as a character. This book is so unique.