cover image Searching for Sylvie Lee

Searching for Sylvie Lee

Jean Kwok. Morrow, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-283430-0

Kwok’s thoughtful thriller (after Mambo in Chinatown) explores the Chinese immigrant experience in New York and Amsterdam, as the death of a grandmother leads two sisters to discover secrets about their family’s past. Beautiful, high-achieving older sister Sylvie was raised by relatives in the Netherlands until she was nine while her newly emigrated parents tried to make a life for themselves in the U.S. In her 30s, Sylvie returns to say goodbye to her grandmother and becomes romantically involved with both a second cousin to whom she has always been attracted and a mysterious musician. When Sylvie disappears, having told her family in Amsterdam that she is returning to New York, her shy younger sister, Amy, sets off to find out what happened. Amy gets to know the family members she has never met, and begins to formulate theories about what happened to Sylvie. Kwok builds suspense by alternating between the points of view of Sylvie and Amy. The story is at its best when it delineates the struggles of second-generation Chinese immigrants in the two countries, and at its weakest when it falls into swooning romance clichés. Because most readers will solve the mysteries before Amy does, this one will satisfy those interested in the immigrant experience more than those looking for a complex plot to puzzle over. [em](June) [/em]