Book: Searching for Sylvie Lee
Author: Jean Kwok
A compelling story about a Chinese immigrant family and their struggles, Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok is beautifully written and well-structured.
Published in June 2019, the book is set in the Netherlands, where the author now lives, after emigrating to New York from Hong Kong when she was five.
The much-admired author of 2010 novel Girl in Translation has injected elements of her life into the story and has successfully mirrored modern life to portray the devastating effects of family separation and how secrets damage and shape an individual.
Knowing Kwok had used her own life experience to construct this story really gave it a deeper edge for me and helped absorb me into the narrative.
It certainly pulls on the heartstrings, and I would describe Searching for Sylvie Lee as a tense mystery, complete with family drama.
The book is told from the perspectives of three women – two sisters, Sylvie and Amy, and their mother.
Sylvie spent her early years in the Netherlands with her grandmother, as her newly immigrated parents couldn’t afford to raise her in America.
At nine-years-old she returned home where she showered a baby sister with unconditional love.
Fast-forward to adulthood and Sylvie returns to the Netherlands to visit her dying grandmother when she vanishes.
Amy retraces Sylvie’s steps and pulls at the strings to unravel her sister’s disappearance.
Get ready for a few late nights reading this book – I didn’t want to put it down.
It’s been a while since a book completely captured my attention and absorbed me into its pages – I love it when that happens.
The whole family seems to hold things in their hearts and harbour many secrets.
Every character is finely detailed and gives the reader a sense of familiarity as you progress deeper into the book and each of them contributed to the plot development.
With many characters, sometimes the storyline is blurred but Kwok is a talented author and this was not the case.
This seems to be a book that will resonate greatly with some and not so much with others.
Personally, I would certainly recommend getting yourself a copy of Searching for Sylvie Lee, and even if it doesn’t capture you to the degree it did me, I am sure you will find it worth your reading time – so grab your coffee and settle into your reading corner for a couple of hours and see what you think.
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok is available at all major online e-book retailers and varying prices, including www.amazon.com and www.kobo.com.