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Searching for Sylvie Lee: A Novel

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  71 reviews
NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK BY Marie Claire • Good Housekeeping • New York Post • Nylon • Huffington Post • CrimeReads • Bookbub • Book Riot • Debutante Ball • Publishers Weekly • Goodreads • Thrillist • Popsugar • • The Everygirl • She Reads • Society 19 • Publishers Weekly

“Powerful . . . A twisting tale of love, loss, and dark family secrets.” —Paula Hawkins,
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: June 4th 2019 by William Morrow
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  126 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Jean Kwok
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'm so thankful for your interest in SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE! It'll be released on June 4th, 2019. Check out the current Goodreads giveaway (, plus chapters 1, 2 and 3 have been released on my website ( My book tour schedule is here ( - I'd love to meet you! Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and rate. I hope very much that you like it and I am so grateful to you f ...more
SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE is a beautifully written novel that left me thinking of the problems facing immigrants or anyone who is trying to fit in. Told by two sisters and their mother, this book is about a heart breaking tragedy which occurs when family secrets are revealed. I highly recommend this book!
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarything
Sylvie Lee is a successful, beautiful woman. Her younger sister, Amy, idolizes her. When news reaches them that their grandmother is dying in the Netherlands, Sylvie flies there to be with her. Sylvie grew up in the Netherlands. Her parents were too poor to take care of her when she was born and sent her to live with her grandmother and the Tan family. Sylvie didn’t return to the US and her parents until she was 9 years old. But now Sylvie has returned to the place she thinks of as home. But Amy ...more
Jenna Friebel
Jean Kwok has created another wonderful novel. Family saga, culture, secrets, suspense... and ultimately, heartbreaking.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found Searching for Sylvie Lee an enthralling, thought-provoking and emotional read. This book combines gorgeous, literary prose with a powerfully suspenseful plot. As the characters navigate multiple languages and cultures, and the web of relationships that holds them together grows more complex, the novel's insights about family, culture, gender and love rise to the surface, surprising and delighting the reader.

The book begins as Amy discovers that something has gone terribly wrong with her
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jean Kwok does it again with Searching for Sylvie Lee. This captivating novel shares the story of a family dealing with unraveling a mystery. Sisters Sylvie and Amy have many differences but share an abiding love. When Sylvie goes missing in the Netherlands, it’s her sister who will do anything to find her.

Kwok navigates cultures and narrative perspectives deftly in this novel. There’s unique balance in this book between suspense and story. I highly recommend adding this book to your TBR list fo
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I have read by Jean Kwok and I am adding her to my must-read list!

I was captured by the author’s art for telling a story. I fell right into it, feeling like I knew the characters and I so love that feeling. Sylvie and Amy captured my heart. As the plot was revealed, mysteries laid out for us, I just could not put the book down. I found myself yelling at characters (in my head), “Why are you doing this?” It is a story of immigrants, family, secrets, and love; plus how all t
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be honest I didn't think I would love it as much as I did. I won it from a goodreads giveaway and felt like because I was sent it, I had to read it. I am so glad that I did though! Throughout the entire book it has you guessing and trying to solve the mystery. When it is actually revealed what happened, it makes sense. It isn't just a random thing thrown in last minute as a way to propel the plot. Jean Kwok laced the truth all throughout the novel. There isn't a hint of lazy writing. She defi ...more
Mary Ann
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Seldom does one book successfully weave together mystery, romance, domesticity, family, culture, and travel. Jean Kwok's novel Searching for Sylvie Lee is a delightful blend of beautifully written prose, characters who could live next door, and an intriguing missing person's case that will keep you reading late into the night.

Sylvie Lee is the older sister to Amy, and Sylvie is, and always has been, the perfect and driven daughter, successful in her studies, relationship, and career. Until now.
Love, love books with differing perspectives of the same story. Many authors are not adept at writing alternating chapters in different voices, but Jean Kwok most certainly is.
Extreme Book Nerd Challenge - A book published this year
Sari Wilson
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this novel! Jean Kwok’s luminous new novel Searching for Sylvie Lee is so propulsive and readable and also so surprising. It has the driving suspense of a psychological thriller, sharp revelations of character of a literary novel, and big themes (a profound exploration of an immigrant family’s search for identity and belonging in an increasingly global world). Sylvie Lee is a heady, haunting mix of Gone Girl and The Joy Luck Club. An astonishing, necessary novel. I highly recommend it!
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I have read in quite awhile. It is not confusing to read in spite of covering many themes all at once. The characters are wonderfully described. It is involving multicultures, multi sexuality, multi traditional and many other different ways and does so clearly and respectfully. I wish the book did not have to end. The countries described and scenery even kept me enthralled. A must read mystery.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to William Morrow for the Advanced Reader’s Edition of Searching for Sylvia Lee by Jean Kwok. Paula Hawkins describes it perfectly: “A twisting tale of love, loss and dark family secrets.” I just finished it tonight and it’s a book that will stay with me for quite a while. Very well written, relatable characters and it kept me guessing right up until the end. I look forward to going back and reading Jean Kwok’s previous work
Kathleen Keenan
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only once in awhile do you find a book that turns out to be one of your very favorite books you've ever read! Well, this is now one of mine. It is so beautifully written and Jean Kwok crafted the story so wonderfully! I learned so much about Chinese culture, the Netherlands, and music. The characters were so interesting and the story was very emotional and thought-provoking. It made me think a lot about the stereotypes we place on different cultures and races. I loved Sylvie, Amy, Lukas, Ma and ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a tour de force exploration of how our identity and our background entwine to form who we are and who we aren’t. This is a page-turner that twists and turns toward an explosive ending!
Julia Phillips
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE made my pulse race and my heart ache. The novel is a thrilling mystery. What a joy to be, as a reader, in the hands of a brilliant, confident writer, who's taking me twist by twist along a path where I can't predict what's coming next. That's my favorite, favorite feeling to have. As I kept turning the pages and getting closer to the end, I kept trying to imagine what the conclusion could be, but when it came, it was totally unexpected – and absolutely right. I never saw ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much. Watch for official review to appear in Booklist. :-D
Danelle The Librarian
Searching for Sylvie Lee was a fantastic page turner. What sets it apart from other thrillers is the thought provoking writing. “In love and life, we never know when we are telling ourselves stories. We are the ultimate unreliable narrators.” This line is an example of the writing that made me pause and consider.
The novel moves between Sylvie's perspective in the recent past, and Ma and Amy’s perspectives in the present day. It is a mystery, but it is so unique. Ma is a Chinese immigrant, so as
Courtney Roach
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two daughters. One daughter, Sylvie, shaped by a foreign world into the “perfect” daughter. The other daughter, Amy, nurtured and loving, but always feels like an outsider. When Sylvie travels back to the land she knew growing up to visit her dying grandmother, what turns out to be a quick trip becomes a family search. What has happened to Sylvie? She has disappeared. Amy must break out of her comfort zone, travel to meet another family she’s never met in search of her missing sister. What she f ...more
Wendie Barney boucher
I received a free copy of this novel for an honest review. While I don't typically enjoy novels that are told from multiple perspectives I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There was also the added layer of bouncing between different times, while it was only about a month this was an added layer to the story that at first I was unsure if I would like. However the book exceeded my expectations. I found the characters relatable and endearing. The storyline was interesting and contained multiple levels ...more
Jessica Woodbury
I love a domestic drama and I love a multi-perspective one even more. Until the last third or so this was very much right in my wheelhouse. I suspect the things that dropped it down a star for me may not matter that much to other readers. (Or maybe they'll matter even more! Who's to say?)

I particularly enjoy a domestic drama that takes me to a new place with interesting characters. This book definitely delivered. The Lee family is more complicated than you'd expect. While in some ways they are
Lisa Wojnarowski Bird
The mystery of finding Sylvie Lee covers an exciting blend of countries, cultures, secrets and relationships! I could not put this book down because I needed to find out what happened to her!!
My favorite book is The Magician's Assistant and Kwok's third novel reminded me many times of Patchett's.

Set primarily in the Netherlands, this immigrant story is about family secrets and the ways that we do and do not communicate with one another, even if we share a language (or multiple languages, as is the case in this story). When much-beloved Sylvie Lee goes missing, following the death of her grandmother in the Netherlands, her younger sister Amy -- sheltered, meek, less beloved in her mi
Elena L.
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE is a suspenseful emotional drama that brings us the saga of three women (two sisters and their mother) in a Chinese immigrant family. Beginning with mystery, Sylvie - the successful older daughter of the Lee family- flies to Netherlands to visit her dying grandmother for the last time and then she disappears.

The book gives us a good portrait of the hard lives of an immigrant family by exploring themes such as family, secrets, cultural identity, love, loss and forgivenes
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, brilliant, and, successful Sylvie has gone missing and her family is beside themselves with worry. Sylvie, an immigrant from China, raised by her grandmother and cousin in Holland, returns to the US in late childhood to live with her parents and sister in NY’s Chinatown. Searching for Sylvie Lee is part mystery, part family relationship story, part love story, part commentary on racism, part grief story. It is a beautifully written book told from the viewpoints of Sylvie, her sister A ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A riveting tale of Love, Loss, and heartbreaking tragedy. Full of cultural insights and a deeply moving story!
Feb 26, 2019 marked it as arcs-to-read  ·  review of another edition

Many thanks to William Morrow for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Carrie Carter
Searching for Sylvie Lee is so many things woven together into one book: a mystery dealing with relationships, immigration, families, cultures, secrets, and so much more. I absolutely love this book. It’s a beautifully written, thought-provoking novel that will fill you with so many emotions.

“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.”

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for p
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-books
"I have learned though the curtains in the Netherlands are always open, there is much that can be concealed in broad daylight.”
Amy leaves New York for the first time in her life upon hearing her sister, Sylvie, is missing.  Sylvie was supposed to be in the Netherlands tending to her dying grandmother, returning home to her life in NY as soon as the funeral is done.  But, as Amy learns, the grass wasn’t nearly as green as Sylvie portrayed it to be and now she must determine if Sylvie is really g
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This voluntary review is based on the ARC I received from the publisher.

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Keon is a treasure of a novel. I found that this work of fiction contained multiple themes including psychological suspense, mystery and multi-cultural/identity story telling.

The dialogue in Part One seemed at first to be a bit shallow (but don’t get me wrong, still a page turner from the beginning, it was intriguing throughout.)

However, Part two Immediately took the story to another level
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Jean Kwok is the New York Times and international bestselling, award-winning author of Searching for Sylvie Lee (coming June 4, 2019), Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. Her work has been published in eighteen countries and taught in universities, colleges, and high schools across the world. She has been selected for numerous honors, including the American Library Association Alex Award, ...more