Rummanah Aasi
 Ivy 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.

Review: White Ivy is a captivating coming of story that has light elements of a thriller that takes a critical look at race, class, and privilege. First generation Chinese American Ivy Lin has learned from a very young age to fend for herself by any means necessary. She was trained by her grandmother to become a a prolific petty thief who used the model minority stereotype to her advantage. As Ivy grows up she has yearned to achieve whiteness and everything that comes with it: privilege, class, wealth, and reputation. No matter how hard she tried to assimilate to her white suburban environment, she never fit in. She fantasized about her future and the American Dream which to her meant married to a wealthy white man and by proxy be embraced in the 'acceptable society'. 
  Presently Ivy is a decidedly unfulfilled first grade teacher in Boston. When she happens to run into Sylvia Speyer, the sister of her childhood crush, Gideon, Ivy is given an opportunity to achieve her dream once again. She worms her way into the orbit of Gideon’s wealthy family and schemes her way into Gideon’s heart. Her dreams are coming to fruition though there is friction as Gideon begins to pull away from Ivy, but Ivy does not mind as long as she gets the happy ending that she wants. Her security is however threatened when a man from her past, Roux Roman, resurfaces and threatens to air her dirty secrets. 
   White Ivy grabbed my attention right from the start. Though far from a likable character, Ivy shatters the model minority stereotype and is unabashedly ambitious. Her tenacity to claw her way into Gideon's social circle is mesmerizing and in a way admirable. She really reminded me of a blend between Jay Gatsby and Becky Sharp. Like Gatsby, Ivy despised her impoverish upbringing and always aspired to become the upper class. Though Gatsby pursued a persona and fought his way to try to win back an old flame, Ivy really does not care about her actual relationship with Gideon, but rather she is obsessed with what he represents (one can argue that Gatsby does the same). Like Becky Sharp, she has no qualms about what actions she must take to secure her future and her moral compass is always askew. The discussion of the complexities of class and privilege will hold the reader's attention as will the array of secondary characters that come and go in the book, most notably Roux who presents as a foil to Ivy. There are also sly comments about race that are read in between the lines of the story, though I wished they were a bit more prominent. Readers intrigued by the promise of the thriller aspects mentioned in the plot may be slightly disappointed as the elements are light and not the main focus of the story, but if you love complex character driven coming of age stories definitely give this debut a try. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language and sexual situations. Recommended for older teens and adults.

If you like this book try: What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan, The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo, The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
1 Response
  1. I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds good.

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