Searching for Sylvie Lee: A Novel
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An Instant New York Times Bestseller!

A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick & Emma Roberts Belletrist Book Club Pick!

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK BY New York Times • Time • Marie Claire • Elle • Buzzfeed • Huffington Post • Good Housekeeping • The Week • Goodreads • New York Post • and many more!

"Powerful . . . A twisting tale of love, loss, and dark family secrets." — Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge, from the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation 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 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 faraway, foreign place, and didn't rejoin her family 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 distraught and desperate for answers. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it's Amy's turn to help. 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 much 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 ever could have imagined.

A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of an immigrant family. It is a profound exploration of the many ways culture and language can divide us and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

"This is a true beach read! You can't put it down!" – Jenna Bush Hager, Today Show Book Club Pick

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Street Date:
06/04/2019
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9780062834331
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B07DCD74LP
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APA Citation (style guide)

Jean Kwok. (2019). Searching for Sylvie Lee: A Novel. William Morrow.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jean Kwok. 2019. Searching for Sylvie Lee: A Novel. William Morrow.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Jean Kwok, Searching for Sylvie Lee: A Novel. William Morrow, 2019.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jean Kwok. Searching for Sylvie Lee: A Novel. William Morrow, 2019. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Jean Kwok is the New York Times and international bestselling author of Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. Her work has been published in eighteen countries and is taught in universities, colleges, and high schools across the world. She has been selected for numerous honors, including the American Library Association Alex Award, the Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book Award and the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award international shortlist. She received her bachelor's degree from Harvard University and earned an MFA from Columbia University. She is fluent in Chinese, Dutch, and English, and currently lives in the Netherlands.

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An Instant New York Times Bestseller!

A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick & Emma Roberts Belletrist Book Club Pick!

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK BY New York Times • Time • Marie Claire • Elle • Buzzfeed • Huffington Post • Good Housekeeping • The Week • Goodreads • New York Post • and many more!

"Powerful . . . A twisting tale of love, loss, and dark family secrets." — Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the...

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title
Searching for Sylvie Lee
fullDescription

An Instant New York Times Bestseller!

A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick & Emma Roberts Belletrist Book Club Pick!

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK BY New York Times • Time • Marie Claire • Elle • Buzzfeed • Huffington Post • Good Housekeeping • The Week • Goodreads • New York Post • and many more!

"Powerful . . . A twisting tale of love, loss, and dark family secrets." — Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge, from the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation

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 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 faraway, foreign place, and didn't rejoin her family 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 distraught and desperate for answers. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it's Amy's turn to help. 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 much 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 ever could have imagined.

A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of an immigrant family. It is a profound exploration of the many ways culture and language can divide us and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

"This is a true beach read! You can't put it down!" – Jenna Bush Hager, Today Show Book Club Pick

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water
      • content: "Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok is a mystery about a daughter's disappearance that will have you on the edge of your beach chair."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Crossing continents and generations, this magnificent and enthralling story unfolds with the intricate suspense of a classic mystery novel and blooms into a radiant tale of inter-generational family love."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jenna Bush Hager, Today Show Book Club Pick
      • content: "Deftly moving between generations and from New York to the Netherlands, Searching for Sylvie Lee is a page-turner, and a suspenseful journey of secrets, family, loyalty, and loss."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times
      • content: "Masterfully written, this suspenseful story of two sisters, and the power of long-buried secrets, is also a profound exploration of one immigrant family's search for identity and belonging in an increasingly global world. Searching for Sylvie Lee will haunt me for a long time."
      • premium: False
      • source: People
      • content: "A dazzling display of the unique bonds among women, mothers and daughters. It's a suspenseful read detailing what happens when the oldest daughter in a Chinese immigrant family disappears."
      • premium: False
      • source: Marie Claire
      • content: "A compelling story of how the unsaid can powerfully shape families and lives... Sharply observed, with a plot as unpredictable as its moody Dutch landscape, Kwok's novel is a powerful meditation on loss, identity and belonging."
      • premium: False
      • source: O, The Oprah Magazine
      • content: "A favorite of Paula Hawkins, this literary novel will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions this summer. A must-read for fans of Celeste Ng."
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Post
      • content: "Like all most compelling mysteries, Jean Kwok's Searching for Sylvie Lee has a powerful emotional drama at its heart. A twisting tale of love, loss and dark family secrets."
      • premium: False
      • source: Harper’s Bazaar
      • content: "This compelling mystery will scoop you up from page one and won't let go until the very end.... Come for the mystery surrounding Sylvie's disappearance, and stay for Kwok's empathetic and masterful exploration of the painful choices one family makes to survive."
      • premium: False
      • source: Town & Country
      • content: "This powerful novel is a must-read."
      • premium: False
      • source: Popsugar
      • content: "A moving tale that, while billed as a mystery, transcends the genre..... This is a beautifully written story in which the author evokes the hard reality of being an immigrant and a woman in today's world."
      • premium: False
      • source: Thrillist
      • content: "Her book explores the mirage of the American Dream. Sylvie seems to have made it in every sense of the word, but Kwok's story asks: What is the price of realizing this dream? And who must pay it?"
      • premium: False
      • source: Daily Beast
      • content: "Kwok tells this story of an immigrant family with lucidity and compassion... a profoundly moving portrayal of the complicated identities that exist even within a single family... a graceful portrait of the sacrifices we make for love."
      • premium: False
      • source: Women.com
      • content: "A wonderful portrait of an immigrant family and one of the best 'unputdownable' suspense novels I've read in a long time."
      • premium: False
      • source: Nylon
      • content: "With prose as mesmerizing and full of depth as a perfect pearl, Kwok's new literary masterwork explores the Chinese immigrant experience both in New York and in Holland, but what it's really getting at is what it means for anyone to belong—to both your community, your family, and to yourself."
      • premium: False
      • source: Nylon Magazine, “50 Books You’ll Want To Read In 2019”
      • content: "[Kwok's] sharp and surprising language transports readers across the globe on a breathless and emotionally complex journey. Excellent from every angle, this is a can't-miss novel for lovers of poignant and propulsive fiction."
      • premium: False
      • source: theSkimm
      • content: "Kwok's story spans generations, continents and language barriers, combining old-fashioned Nancy Drew sleuthing with the warmth and heart we've come to expect from this gifted writer."
      • premium: False
      • source: Sari Wilson, acclaimed author of Girl Through Glass
      • content: "A satisfying hybrid of mystery and family drama."
      • premium: False
      • source: Scott Turow, New York Times bestselling author of Testimony
      • content: "Searching for Sylvie Lee is riveting. A dazzling, talented woman disappears, leading her younger sister to search the Netherlands—and the past—for the truth. This novel is part mystery, part saga of an immigrant family. It is both gripping and emotionally resonant on every page—a remarkable achievement."
      • premium: False
      • source: Julie Otsuka, New York Times bestselling author of The Buddha in the Attic
      • content: "Kwok tells this story of an immigrant family with lucidity and compassion... a profoundly moving portrayal of the complicated identities that exist even within a single family... a graceful portrait of the sacrifices we make for...
      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Amy Lee's Chinese immigrant family was too poor to keep her older sister, Sylvie, who was raised for a time by a distant relative. Now, grown-up Sylvie has disappeared, and when Amy starts retracing her movements, she finds not her sister but her sister's well-kept secrets. From the New York Times best-selling author Kwok, winner of ALA's Alex Award and the Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book Award.

        Copyright 1 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 1, 2019
        A Chinese family spanning the U.S. and the Netherlands grapples with the disappearance of one of their own.Twenty-six-year-old Amy Lee is living in her parents' cramped Queens apartment when she gets a frantic call from Lukas Tan, the Dutch second cousin she's never met. Her successful older sister, Sylvie, who had flown to the Netherlands to see their ailing grandmother, is missing. Amy's questions only mount as she looks into Sylvie's disappearance. Why does Sylvie's husband, Jim, look so bedraggled when Amy tracks him down, and why are all his belongings missing from the Brooklyn Heights apartment he and Sylvie share? Why is Sylvie no longer employed by her high-powered consulting firm? And when Amy finally musters up the courage to travel to the Netherlands for the first time, why do her relatives--the Tan family, including Lukas and his parents, Helena and Willem--act so strangely whenever Sylvie is brought up? Amy's search is interlaced with chapters from Sylvie's point of view from a month earlier as she returns to the Netherlands, where she had been sent as a baby by parents who couldn't afford to keep her, to be raised by the Tans. As Amy navigates fraught police visits and her own rising fears, she gradually uncovers the family's deepest secrets, some of them decades old. Though the novel is rife with romantic entanglements and revelations that wouldn't be amiss in a soap opera, its emotional core is the bond between the Lee sisters, one of mutual devotion and a tinge of envy. Their intertwined relationship is mirrored in the novel's structure--their alternating chapters, separated in time and space, echo each other. Both ride the same bike through the Tans' village, both encounter the same dashing cellist. Kwok (Mambo in Chinatown, 2014, etc.), who lives in the Netherlands, is eloquent on the clumsy, overt racism Chinese people face there: "Sometimes I think that because we Dutch believe we are so emancipated, we become blind to the faults in ourselves," one of her characters says. But the book is a meditation not just on racism, but on (not) belonging: "When you were different," Sylvie thinks, "who knew if it was because of a lack of social graces or the language barrier or your skin color?"A frank look at the complexities of family, race and culture.

        COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        April 15, 2019
        Kwok’s thoughtful thriller (after Mambo in Chinatown) explores the Chinese immigrant experience in New York and Amsterdam, as the death of a grandmother leads two sisters to discover secrets about their family’s past. Beautiful, high-achieving older sister Sylvie was raised by relatives in the Netherlands until she was nine while her newly emigrated parents tried to make a life for themselves in the U.S. In her 30s, Sylvie returns to say goodbye to her grandmother and becomes romantically involved with both a second cousin to whom she has always been attracted and a mysterious musician. When Sylvie disappears, having told her family in Amsterdam that she is returning to New York, her shy younger sister, Amy, sets off to find out what happened. Amy gets to know the family members she has never met, and begins to formulate theories about what happened to Sylvie. Kwok builds suspense by alternating between the points of view of Sylvie and Amy. The story is at its best when it delineates the struggles of second-generation Chinese immigrants in the two countries, and at its weakest when it falls into swooning romance clichés. Because most readers will solve the mysteries before Amy does, this one will satisfy those interested in the immigrant experience more than those looking for a complex plot to puzzle over.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from April 15, 2019
        Sisters Sylvie and Amy Lee have the same Chinese immigrant parents but different childhoods. Amy was raised in New York, while Sylvie spent her formative years in the Netherlands with their grandmother and cousins. When Grandma falls ill, Sylvie returns to the small Dutch village to care for her. After Grandma dies, the family assumes that Sylvie came back to America, but Amy is shocked to discover that Sylvie is missing. Amy swallows her fears and travels abroad, determined to find her sister. As she unravels the mystery of Sylvie's disappearance, Sylvie tells her own version of the story in flashbacks, and the girls' mother weighs in with her own perspective. Reading Kwok's (Mambo in Chinatown, 2014) third novel is like watching an artist create a pencil drawing; she lays down the initial outline, then builds on it with shading and nuance until everything comes together at the stunning end. Her sharp and surprising language transports readers across the globe on a breathless and emotionally complex journey. Excellent from every angle, this is a can't-miss novel for lovers of poignant and propulsive fiction.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Another sure bet from the internationally best-selling Kwok, whose Girl in Translation put her on the map.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

subtitle
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