Novel Approach: 'White Ivy' is a riveting and secretive debut novel

“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.” ― François de La Rochefoucauld

People always want what others have, they always believe that what someone else has is better, shinier or more impressive than what they already possess. People always want the latest and greatest and often forget to be grateful or even recognize what they already have. In our latest read, we’re transported to Boston where readers will meet a young woman who is determined to have a preppy life that is different from her own.

White Ivy by Susie Yang

Susie Yang’s debut novel is a riveting immigration story that wanders into the realm of a gothic novel as the protagonist Ivy, focuses all her energies around joining the Speyers family.

When readers first meet Ivy, she’s a child who is raised by a grandmother in China until she’s five, when she is sent across the world on her own to reunite with her parents in Massachusetts. For Ivy, her parents are strangers and the infant brother is a shock. As she gets older her grandmother teaches her to “take opportunities” to better her circumstances by stealing, through her light fingered habits she befriends the neighborhood bad boy and the two have a form of an unlikely friendship based on their mutual secret. At the same time Ivy is determined to like her wealthy classmates at the private school she’s able to attend due to her father’s employment at the prestigious school and develops a crush on one of her peers.

All Ivy wants is to be accepted by her wealthy classmates, but find it impossible and she meanders through life working to gain an improved social standing. Years later Ivy meets her childhood crush and has practically secured for herself the life she always wanted, until someone from her past threatens to tear down the glamorous new world she’s created for herself.

Yang’s novel is an intense and shocking coming-of-age tale of an immigrant child trying to gain the blue blood status she craves while balancing the volatile love-triangle Ivy finds herself in.

“White Ivy” is an intriguing read that asks viewers to consider how far they’re willing to go to carve out their ideal life.

From the book jacket…

Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her.

Raised outside of Boston, Ivy’s immigrant grandmother relies on Ivy’s mild appearance for cover as she teaches her granddaughter how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops. 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, and 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 Ivy 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.

If you enjoy…

For readers looking for more stories with secretive and electrifying voices, “Reconstructing Amelia” by Kimberly McCreight tells the story of a mother trying to understand the events surrounding her daughter’s abrupt death.