Searching for Sylvie Lee

“We are all ultimately unreliable storytellers of our own lives, whether we wish it so or not, whetherwe share a common language or not.”

It 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 Sylvie 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 far away foreign place, and didn’t join them 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 desperate for answers. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it’s Amy’s turn. 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 more valuable: the truth. Sylvie, the golden girl, kept painful secrets. Secrets that will reveal more about Amy’s complicated family – and herself – than she could ever have imagined.

I was delighted when HarperCollins Publishers gifted me the ARC of Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok as it has been at the top of my reading list for the past 6 months. I had all these grand ambitions to wait and read the book while I was on vacation but I couldn’t do it. I immediately started reading and am so glad that I did.

From page one, I was hooked. In fact, I didn’t get up from my seat for the first 100 pages. The story of what happened to Sylvie is breathtakingly eye opening to the realities that immigrants face all over the world. However, this novel is not solely about the realities of immigrants, it is also about all of the complicated identities that can make up a family. Every person plays a part in the dynamics of their family and below the surface can lurk some pretty dark secrets. This novel is a deeply moving novel on the power that those secrets can have on ones identity and belonging.

I was mesmerized by Searching for Sylvie Lee and loved that the chapters switched back and forth between Sylvie and the days leading up to her disappearance; to Amy in the days following Sylvie’s disappearance and then to their mother as she coped with the reality of what was happening to her family. Nestled amongst those chapters are newspaper clippings dropped at just the right point in the story that had me unable to put it down. In the moments that I didn’t have the book in my hands, I found that I was constantly thinking about Sylvie. What had happened to her? Was the truth hiding right in front of me? Why did it seem that everyone had a secret they were hiding? It was a constant back and forth in my mind until I gave up and picked the book back up again.

Searching for Sylvie Lee is going to take the book world by storm this summer. It has equal parts of something for every reader out there. There is mystery, suspense, international travel, family secrets and emotional drama. All of these parts combined make it the perfect summer read. It was truly so unpredictable that had me guessing until the very last chapter.

I am incredibly grateful that I was granted an advance copy of Searching for Sylvie Lee. It was such a profoundly moving story. Jean Kwok has made a new fan and I am anxiously waiting to see what she does next.

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishing and Jean Kwok for the advanced reader copy of Searching for Sylvie Lee. It will be available on June 4, 2019 but is available for pre-order now. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this novel.

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