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Searching for Sylvie Lee

A Novel
By: Jean Kwok
Length: 11 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (184 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A READ WITH JENNA • TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK BY New York TimesTimeMarie ClaireElleBuzzfeedHuffington PostGood HousekeepingThe Week • Goodreads • New York PostPublishers Weekly, and many more

“Powerful.... A twisting tale of love, loss, and dark family secrets.” (Paula Hawkins, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water)

A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women - two sisters and their mother - in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge, from the New York Times best-selling author of Girl in Translation

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 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 age 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 much 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.

A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping pause register, and a sensitive portrait of an immigrant family. It is a profound exploration of the many ways culture and language can divide us and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone - especially those we love. 

©2019 Jean Kwok (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

More Plod than Plot

I agree with another reviewer that this story seems like recycled material from other similar novels. The narration is soft and breathy which I found unpleasant. I have listened to about one third of the audiobook and haven’t been able to make myself go back to it. I found it thoroughly unremarkable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Well written & beautifully performed

I loved the performance of this work. Without spoilers, I’ll just say, it is an excellent story, although not a “feel good” novel. It is well worth the read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Wordy and boring

Both the wordy, slow-paced writing style and the overly expressive narration made it difficult for me to become involved in the storyline. The plot seemed to be mostly re-cycled material from other books that was much better in the original version. I almost stopped listening at several points--and wish that I had. I'll definitely take a pass on Jenna's subsequent selections.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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Incomplete ending

I really enjoyed this book but a couple of the story lines/plots were not concluded (Jim??). The reader for Amy was fantastic . Parts of the book narrated by Sylvie dragged, but overall I would recommend. I was disappointed by the ending but recognize the significance. This is not a cliche book like so many others.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Riveting to the end

This book was such a thrilling mystery that it was hard not to fast forward to the end;but I would not allow myself to spoil the climactic ending of the story.
Beautifully written.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Favorite Listen!

Listening to "Ma, Sylvie and Amy" tell their engrossing story brought another angle to "Searching for Sylvie Lee". Hearing them speak made the characters and their conflicts seem real. I loved that the story took place in so many places (the Netherlands! Vienna! NYC!) with so many twists and turns that I had to listen even when not driving my car!

One of my favorite listens!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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3 stars....

The story is sort of predictable-not that you know that going but when finished. Did not like the breathy, soft voice of sylvie and got a little tired of her whining...
I’m rather new to audio books. Ruminating on how much affect/effect the reader has on how I like the book...or not.

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An Enjoyable Book

Overall this book was good enough to purchase. It was a bit melodramatic for my taste however.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • glfeng
  • GLENDALE, AZ, United States
  • 06-17-19

Filial duties at their finest

I love a good fiction and even more a good love story. This one is heart wrenching and never harm warming. Complicated and forbidden love twisted with Chinese filial expectations , dark secrets and many unsaid things. Parts of the story were predictable and the Dutch / Chinese accents were confusing and inaccurate at times which was off putting to me but perhaps not to everyone.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Captivating characters n plots

U will not see it coming. Many twists n turns. An unbelievable ending. Characters r so real. The glimpses of prejudice can make u angry. A story that will stay with u. Highly recommend!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful