White Ivy: Sharp exploration of privilege in modern America
Book review: Captivating debut novel about the dangers of pursuing the American dream
Susie Yang explores the subject of privilege through the character of Ivy Lin
“Maybe there were no new stories, only your story. But what did the real story even matter, when most people judged you based on the shallowest surfaces?” In her smart and provocative debut novel, White Ivy, Susie Yang explores the subject of privilege through the character of Ivy Lin, a second-generation Chinese-American desperate to cash in on the great American dream.
Desperate is a word that suits the manipulative and enterprising Ivy, whose coming-of-age story in the Boston suburbs proves a multifaceted, riveting read. At the centre of the book is Ivy’s fascination with one all-American family, the Speyers. In high school she falls in love with son Gideon, only to have her parents mortify her at a sleepover party in his house, then relocate the family to another town. Years later she reunites with Gideon following a chance encounter with his haughty sister Sylvia. The pair begin a relationship of sorts, with the bulk of the novel leading up to their wedding day.