White Ivy by Susie Yang is one of the most talked about book amongst the Bookstagrammers and book bloggers. In a nutshell, this is a story about an Asia – American desperately trying to fit in.
Ivy comes from a humble background. Her parents are poor immigrants. She hates the struggles that they go through on a day to day basis. She wants an American upbringing much like her classmates. But Nan and Shen, her parents, believe in the Asian style of disciplinarian parenting. The kids – Ivy and Austin – are wrecked. Ivy, more headstrong of the two, decides to walk out to pursue further education. Years later she has a teaching job and keeps away from her family. There’s peace and yet she dreams of a lavish life of being a trophy wife to a rich American. Gideon, her childhood crush walks in and there’s a whirlwind romance. But there’s a lot more going on than meets the eyes.
This book is layered. The writing is strong. It grips you and plays with your mind. The twists were predictable, more like cliché Bollywood-esque. But just when you are thinking this is the end of it there comes an acceptance towards the climax which seems illogical yet practical. I simply loved how the book culminates. The reality sinks in you gradually.
White Ivy is a coming of the age novel. It focuses on model minority, dysfunctional family, parental pressure, patriarchal pressure, the teenage angst, the desire, the dilemma, interracial relationship, etc. And at the centre of this story lies, the big M – Money.
What more you get to see in this book are the broken characters. Their plight so unpleasant that your heart reaches out to them. There are heartbreaking and scalding events that take place in Ivy’s life. The book vehemently speaks about the claustrophobia that’s induced by the family, a usual in Asian families. It shows us the clear distinction between Asia and America. For Ivy, the American way means freedom. But her Asian upbringing also makes her feel guilty of staying away from her family. The book is about Ivy’s indecisions and dilemma. The ‘what’s right for you versus what you really want’ stays with her.
White Ivy asserts the need for an identity, for living a privileged life and the peace that comes with it. It shows us the desperation of an immigrant family, the hardships of an Asian-American.
To me this book was one satisfying and helluva read! Pick it up. It won’t disappoint. Especially, if you like to read BIPOC books.
I heard the audiobook on LibroFM. Emily Woo Zeller has done a fab job with the narration.
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