By Susie Yang
** Publication Date 8 September 2020 **
Ivy Lin is 100% an American teenager. She longs for the same things all American teenagers do – the cool crowd, the handsome boyfriend, the right clothes. But Ivy is not 100% American. Ivy was born in Chongqing China, raised by her grandmother Meifeng until her parents, Nan and Chen could afford to bring her to America. By the time Ivy leaves China, Nan and Chen have another child, Austin, and are living in Massachusetts.
Ivy’s transition from Chinese toddler and child to American teenager is born out of necessity to try to fit in and not anger her mother, Nan. Nan is disciplined and harsh toward Ivy. So Ivy seeks out acceptance where she can. She also begins a life of petty crime to be able to be more like an American teen, stealing makeup and clothing from her local KMart. She befriends a Romanian boy named Roux, who is also a bit of a thief and junior criminal.
When Ivy’s father, Chen begins working for an elite private school, Ivy is transferred there to complete her schooling. This is when Ivy is confronted with wealth and beauty and privilege. Privilege she may never know as a Chinese immigrant. This is when Ivy truly becomes an American teenager. She longs for this life.
Yang has written an epic novel about this young girl, Ivy, and her life trying to achieve the American dream. What sacrifices she will make, her parents make, and how she assimilates herself into society regardless of the cost. I was utterly mesmerized by Yang’s writing and this amazing woman she created. How much it showed what cost come with immigration to this country and the effect that being excluded from privilege can have on one’s self-esteem.
An incredible read and highly recommended.