Book Review: White Ivy by Susie Yang

White Ivy by Susie Yang
My rating: 4 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 2020)

Very good. A very quick read as it's quite the page-turner.

This began as a bit of a character study of an unabashed social climber and ingratiator and in the second half segued into a bit of a thriller. One of the major revelations was telegraphed too early on for my liking but I don't know if I saw it because I read a lot and am of a suspicious nature or it was that baldly obvious. The thriller-esque happening was a decent surprise but felt a bit removed in tone from the rest of the story, still, I enjoyed it.

I don't want to give away any spoilers but I will say that Ivy was interesting to follow. I rarely rooted for her but I often could see her perspective. The single issue I couldn't get was her connection with Roux. To be fair, I didn't enjoy his character at all (too much sneering and posturing to the point of caricaturesque) and he made it worse with a foray into blackmail and coercion. Ivy was quite the piece of work but I didn't need so heavy-handed an annoyance in Roux to make me hope she succeeded in gaining the upper hand. Gideon never seemed a fully formed character but I attributed that to Ivy's view of him. He seemed to be the intersection of her obsession with status, whiteness, and consumerism. Even with the very end of the book, I didn't know that I bought her really loving him. Her arrival at a place of understanding and a sort of acceptance with her family was good but abrupt and I wished more time had been devoted to that.

As I've mentioned in other book reviews, I am always drawn to stories of social climbers and ingratiators. They repulse and fascinate me so I have quite a few book-likes for this one, She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop, Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak, Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton, Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore and more I'm sure but that's enough for now.

I'd happily read another by Susie Yang. Recommended.

Many thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the free advanced copy.

Summary: A dazzling debut novel about a young woman’s dark obsession with her privileged classmate and the lengths she’ll go to win his loveIvy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her. Raised outside of Boston, she is taught how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops by her immigrant grandmother. 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, where 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 she 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.
Filled with surprising twists and offering sharp insights into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story, as well as a glimpse into the dark side of a woman who yearns for success at any cost.

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