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, Sylvie's younger sister, desperately retraces Sylvie's steps, revealing painful family secrets that have long been kept hidden.
... a moving tale that, while billed as a mystery, transcends the genre ... There is so much in this novel that mirrors modern life as Kwok pulls us into the lives of people who encounter prejudice and ignorance as they struggle to assimilate ... Kwok cracks open Sylvie’s heart, spilling its sorrowful contents for all the world to see. This is a beautifully written story in which the author evokes the hard reality of being an immigrant and a woman in today’s world.
Reading Kwok’s...third novel is like watching an artist create a pencil drawing; she lays down the initial outline, then builds on it with shading and nuance until everything comes together at the stunning end. Her sharp and surprising language transports readers across the globe on a breathless and emotionally complex journey. Excellent from every angle, this is a can’t-miss novel for lovers of poignant and propulsive fiction.
...engrossing ... The alternating structure allows readers to witness how the Lee sisters frequently saw the best in each other but thought the worst of themselves ... One might assume that resentments would exist between these sisters, but Kwok renders their relationship with genuine tenderness, gently revealing their human fallibility ... The beauty and tragedy of Searching for Sylvie Lee is in how much these sisters love each other because of — or in spite of — their upbringing. Another notable strength of the novel is how deeply it delves into the mindset of immigrants who never quite belong anywhere they live ... Kwok’s novel is at its best and most engaging when exploring the Lee sisters’ relationships with themselves and each other, the effects of immigration on entire generations of families, and the weight that the adult children of immigrants often feel ... While the thriller aspects of Searching for Sylvie Lee are somewhat uneven, readers interested in the family drama are sure to be drawn in by Kwok’s undeniable gift for creating memorable, intimate portraits of characters.