The Week in Books #83

11/14 ✅

Another week in books! I feel like my pace has slowed a tad as I’m still working on this stack but I’m very close to finished with 11/14 done (+1 I read that wasn’t on the stack). This week I made it through White Ivy, here’s what I thought.

1. White Ivy by Susie Yang. This is an interesting debut novel from Susie Yang, a Chinese-born writer who now lives in America. Ivy is the protagonist, as the title implies, and this is the story of her coming of age and young adulthood. The big theme in this novel that really stood out to me is essentially money; everyone seems to be most interested in money and/or people with money. Gideon has money, Roux has money, Slyvia (Gideon’s sister) has money but is also attracted to men with money. Ivy’s family starts with nothing and eventually gains loads of wealth. Ivy’s roommate also ends up with a man with loads of money. I personally find it tiresome to read about rich people, especially when ‘being rich’ is treated like a personality trait. That said, there was lots of other stuff going on in this novel as well; Ivy fights against her traditional Chinese parents and struggles to find her own path, will she be a teacher, lawyer, or housewife? Her relationship with Gideon was very, very weird… he is distant and withholding of intimacy but she plows ahead despite not being happy because of the lifestyle that comes with him. There are several twists that make this an enjoyable read, but in general I didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for Ivy. She was actually kind of horrible and made some truly messed up choices. Yang’s writing was really smooth and expressive, with twists coming at just the right points to keep me engaged. Would recommend!

A young woman’s crush on a privileged former classmate becomes a story of love, lies, and dark obsession, offering stark insights into the immigrant experience, as it hurtles to its electrifying ending.

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.

Filled with surprising twists and a nuanced exploration of class and race, White Ivy is a glimpse into the dark side of a woman who yearns for success at any cost.

Simon and Shuster

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