SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE by Jean Kwok

SYNOPSIS

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 poor 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,aged 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 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.

MY REVIEW

Sylvie Lee is a beautiful, successful woman. When she hears that the grandmother who raised her was dying, she flies to the Netherlands to be with her. Her parents had sent her there to live as they were too poor, she had returned to her parents and the US at the age of 9. She has a younger sister Amy, who thinks the world of her. But Sylvie has disappeared. Despite being shy Amy feels it is up to her to find her big sister. But her search for Sylvie uncovers family secrets that have been buried for a long time.

I liked the characters in the book, you felt the emotions the parents went through, especially the mother, how much she had to sacrifice, the effect this had on her relationship with Sylvie, they feel relatable and believable, the cultural difficulties are well portrayed, the difficulties the immigrant family faced and the racism shown to them in the Netherlands. There is a very strong family theme that runs through the story along with heritage. There are also secrets, betrayals and tragedy that revolve around the family.

The story is told from the points of view of Amy as she searches for Sylvie, and Sylvie telling her story from when she leaves for the Netherlands a month earlier, the chapters alternate with the odd one added from the perspective of the mother.

As Amy, still a young adult, looks for her sister, she comes to realise that she hasn’t had to deal with the pressures and traumas that her older sister had had to deal with. Having been separated from her family at a very young age. Amy’s story is as important as Sylvie’s although at times it does become very overshadowed.

The first two thirds of the book I was enjoying, but then it just seemed to change, I can’t put my finger on precisely what changed, but it lost my interest, I had figured out what I thought the ending was going to be before it reached it, I had hoped I was going to be wrong, but it just seemed to spoil the momentum of the rest of the story for me personally. So where I felt for the family, the relationships, it just seemed to fade out. Something was missing.

I couldn’t fault the writing it is beautiful, with lots of imagery, metaphors and emotion. I just wish it had continued until the end.

I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ it would have been a five star but it just lacked something towards the end for me personally.

I would like to thank #netgalley and #JohnMurray for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review.


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