1st Line/1st Paragraph: Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

 June 25, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

First Paragraph

I’m pleased to share the first line and first paragraph of Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok. If you appreciate family dynamics, diverse reads, and mystery, this may be a good read for you.

From Amazon:  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. A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping page-turner 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.

Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Searching For Sylvie Lee

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Asian American, Family Life, Mystery

1st Line/1st (2) Paragraphs:

I am standing by the window of our small apartment in Queens, watching as Ma and Pa leave for their jobs. Half-hidden by the worn curtains Ma sewed herself, I see them walk side by side to the subway station down the street. At the entrance, they pause and look at each other for a moment. Here, I always hold my breath, waiting for Pa to touch Ma’s cheek, or for Ma to burst into tears, or for either of them to give some small sign of the truth of their relationship. Instead, Ma raises her hand in an awkward wave, the drape of her black shawl exposing her slender forearm, and Pa shuffles into the open mouth of the station as the morning traffic roars down our busy street. Then Ma ducks her head and continues her walk to the local dry cleaners where she works.

I sigh and step away from the window. I should be doing something more productive. Why am I still spying on my parents? Because I’m an adult living at home and have nothing better to do. If I don’t watch out, I’m going to turn into Ma. Timid, dutiful, toiling at a job that pays nothing. And yet, I’ve caught glimpses of another Ma and Pa over the years. The passion that flickers over her face as she reads Chinese romane novels in the night, the ones Pa scorns. The way Pa reaches for her elbow when he walks behind her, catches himself, and pulls back his hand. I pass by my closet of a bedroom, and the poster that hangs on the wall catches my eye–barely visible behind the teetering piles of papers and laundry. It’s a quote I’ve always loved from Willa Cather: “The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own.” I’m not sure I believe the sentiment but her words never fail to unsettle me.

Searching For Sylvie Lee finally reached the top of my library hold list. Not only is it on my 2019 Summer TBR, but Jenna (from The Today Show Book Club) selected it for the June read. Here’s a clip of Jenna and author Jean Kwok.

So far I’ve read five chapters and can report that it’s easy reading and quietly engaging as everyone begins to realize that Sylvie is missing. Have you read Searching For Sylvie Lee?


Do you enjoy reading hyped books or do you avoid them until the buzz dies down?

Most of the time I want to read them (so I can offer you reviews of recent releases), but there have been times when I ignore the buzz and later find out that the buzz was short lived and I decide to pass on it…..or as time passes, more honest reviews are published and I decide it’s not for me after all.

 Looking Ahead:

Friday, I’m publishing my list of favorite books so far this year.

Coming soon! A special collaboration post with twelve other bloggers as we each give our recommendation for ONE great summer book!

One Great Summer Read

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.




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