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  • Lilly Schmaltz

Book Review: 'White Ivy' by Susie Yang

Ivy Lin was taught how to shoplift by her grandmother and uses her skill to acquire the necessary items to fit into suburban America. Perhaps, her biggest reward was grabbing the attention of Gideon Speyer. Years later, Ivy is an adult and runs into Gideon’s sister, Sylvia. Their serendipitous meeting sparks a new relationship with Gideon and his family, but when someone from Ivy’s past also reappears, she is faced with new challenges and decisions as she works to uphold her new, perfect American life.

"White Ivy" by Susie Yang was a slow burn for me. While I could relate to Ivy as a Chinese-American working hard to fit in, that was where my connection to her ended. I didn’t find Ivy to be that likable of a protagonist; however, Susie Yang did a great job of making me feel for Ivy despite not liking her. While I didn’t always agree with Ivy’s behavior, her struggle to rise to the top as an immigrant was raw and gritty.

For much of the story, I would classify this as an immigrant story and literary fiction. Towards the end, it began shifting more towards a thriller. I predicted one of the twists, but was still deeply engrossed in the aftermath that Ivy experienced. The final twist wasn’t exactly of the thriller genre, but was still big enough to potentially change the entire course of Ivy’s life. Again, I’m not sure I agree with her choices, but do appreciate how they remind me that life is complicated, and humans are complex.

"White Ivy" was a unique and raw look at a coming-of-age, immigrant story that shows just how complex and manipulative people can be. The question is: “How far is one willing to go to make it to the top?”



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