Searching for Sylvie Lee

A Novel
By: Jean Kwok
Length: 11 hrs and 41 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4 out of 5 stars (934 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
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Suspense woven with Chinese culture

Wonderful suspense woven with Chinese culture. The characters were well developed so that you cared about them. Even when they were unlikeable. The conclusion was satisfying. The presentation was spot on.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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!

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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.

8 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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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.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Entertaining for a bit, but is worst book ever!

Mysterious, yes, and that is entertaining for a bit. But once you get toward the end you'll realize the whole thing was an epic waste of time and its the worst book/characters ever. Totally unbelievable and worthless. I understand it is fiction and believability is not the goal. But this is simply the worst. I am actually angry at the author - and not in a "wow-what-a-great-thought-provoking-hate" kind of way. Gets 2 stars only because the reading performance is good.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful

So enjoyed this book. I was captivated throughout the whole story. Narrators did such a great job with the various accents. A must listen.

1 person found this helpful

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A must read

One of these books you hate to finish!
Excellent narration , a lot is twist and turns

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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An Enjoyable Book

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

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful