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, and a series of family secrets emerge, from the 
New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation

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, the sheltered baby of the Lee family, is too young to remember a time when her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep Sylvie. Seven years older, Sylvie was raised by a distant relative in a faraway, foreign place, and didn’t rejoin her family in America until age nine. Timid and shy, Amy has always looked up to her sister, the fierce and fearless protector who showered her with unconditional love.

But what happened to Sylvie? Amy and her parents are distraught and desperate for answers. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it’s Amy’s turn to help. Terrified yet determined, Amy retraces her sister’s movements, flying to the last place Sylvie was seen. But instead of simple answers, she discovers something much more valuable: the truth. Sylvie, the golden girl, kept painful secrets . . . secrets that will reveal more about Amy’s complicated family—and herself—than she ever could have imagined.

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.


* Jenna Bush Hager’s Today Show Book Club Pick *

* Emma Roberts’ Belletrist Book Club Pick *

* O, The Oprah Magazine’s Summer Reading List *




“Like all most compelling mysteries, Jean Kwok's Searching for Sylvie Lee has a powerful emotional drama at its heart. A twisting tale of love, loss and dark family secrets."
—Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

 “Any of us can imagine if our sister or our best friend went missing. Amy is searching for her sister and the sisterhood is, I think, the most beautiful part of it. I couldn't help but continue to read to figure out where she was and what happened to her. You can’t put it down!”
—Jenna Bush Hager, THE TODAY SHOW Book Club Pick

"Kwok’s story spans generations, continents and language barriers, combining old-fashioned Nancy Drew sleuthing with the warmth and heart we’ve come to expect from this gifted writer.... I lost myself in the music of Kwok’s story and heard a family trying to find their own harmony. If there’s a more familiar and beautiful sound, I don’t know what it is."
—New York Times Book Review

“As the influence—and volume—of celebrity book clubs continues to ramp up, Kwok’s Sylvie Lee finds itself in an enviable position: Before millions of viewers and followers, it’s emerged as the summer read of choice.” 
—Entertainment Weekly, Jean Kwok on how Searching for Sylvie Lee became this summer’s book club sensation

“O, The Oprah Magazine has shared its list of 32 books to read this summer: Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok. Both Jenna Bush Hager and Emma Roberts selected this fun mystery for their book clubs' June 2019 pick.”
E! News, O, The Oprah Magazine's Summer 2019 Reading List

“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."

"Searching for Sylvie Lee examines the complexities of identity, culture and family as Amy struggles to understand what happened to her sister." 
Time, 32 Books You Need to Read This Summer

"A dazzling display of the unique bonds among women, mothers and daughters. It's a suspenseful read detailing what happens when the oldest daughter in a Chinese immigrant family disappears."

“Amy’s sister Sylvie went to the Netherlands to visit their dying grandmother — but never gets on her return flight back to the US. As days go by without word from Sylvie, Amy decides to go looking for her — and in doing so, family secrets come to light. A haunting novel.”
The New York Post, The 25 best beach reads of 2019 you need to pre-order now

“A moving tale that, while billed as a mystery, transcends the genre… a beautifully written story in which the author evokes the hard reality of being an immigrant and a woman in today’s world.”
The Washington Post, A decade ago, her brother disappeared. In a new novel, she turns her loss into art.

"When the eldest daughter of an immigrant family goes missing, what ensues propels us through the depths of a family's secrets, complicated discoveries and what makes us individuals."
Newsweek, Best Summer Books

“There’s a crop of writers with crackling novels coming out this season [including] Jean Kwok… a heartbreaking family story inspired by true events.”
—The New York Times, A Book Lover’s Guide to Summer, Novelists to Watch

“Engrossing. Readers interested in the family drama are sure to be drawn in by Kwok’s undeniable gift for creating memorable, intimate portraits of characters struggling to find their place in the world”
—Los Angeles Review of Books

"I was only about two-thirds of the way through Jean Kwok's Searching for Sylvie Lee when I began telling everyone I know: 'I've found this book, you need to read it.'... It's a thriller, and it's an immigrant story, and it's also a romance. I love a lot of books, but none quite like this one.... This is a story like no other."
Marie Claire, The Best Women's Fiction of 2019

“Kwok’s tightly woven novel is an emotional and thrilling page-turner that also provides insight into her Asian culture. A major change of pace for Kwok; readers who enjoyed the work of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl should appreciate.”
—Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Jean Kwok’s Searching for Sylvie Lee has a mystery at its core, but it’s more an enlightening exploration of racism and the immigration experience.”
Real Simple, The Short List: 5 Books That Won’t Disappoint

“From China to America to the Netherlands, Kwok’s piercing, inventive novel tracks the fates of an immigrant woman and her children following a disappearance—and highlights the sandpaper frictions between East and West.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine,The Best Books by Women of Summer 2019

“A satisfying hybrid of mystery and family drama.”
People, The Best Summer Books

"A compelling story of how the unsaid can powerfully shape families and lives. Sharply observed, with a plot as unpredictable as its moody Dutch landscape, Kwok's novel is a powerful meditation on loss, identity and belonging." 
—Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW

“Jean Kwok's Searching for Sylvie Lee is the smart literary thriller you want to read this summer.”
—Amazon, Summer Reading Picks

“The Lee family is disappearing. First, it's Amy's grandmother, who passes away. Then, her older sister Sylvie is seemingly swallowed up by New York. Amy's urgent search takes her back into her own family's history, and into the secrets she didn't even know Sylvie had.”
ELLE, The 30 Best Books To Read This Summer

"A moving portrait of the unintended consequences that stem from an immigrant family’s efforts to adapt, survive, and provide their children with a better future.” 
Harper’s Bazaar, The 17 Best Summer Reads of 2019

“Depicting a language that hints at meaning through euphemisms and idioms, Kwok rejects glosses, italics, and explanatory commas…. Kwok’s foray into the native speaker’s mind maintains an admirable artistic integrity. More than a fast-paced thriller, Searching for Sylvie Lee is a meditation on dislocation, the gulf that separates generations of migrants, and the price of achieving some version of the American dream.” 
—Columbia Journal

"Stunning novel... Kwok tells this story of an immigrant family with lucidity and compassion, there is sympathy for difficult choices made, but nothing is sentimentalized. Instead, this is a profoundly moving portrayal of the complicated identities that exist even within a single family, and it offers a graceful portrait of the sacrifices we make for love, and the ways in which our choices can’t help but forever affect those around us." 
Nylon Magazine, 35 Great Books to Read This Summer

“A gripping story about love and family secrets.”
Good Housekeeping, Best Summer Reads

"Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok is a mystery about a daughter's disappearance that will have you on the edge of your beach chair."
—The Skimm, Summer Travel Essentials, June Smarter Pack

"More than a simple suspense tale of a missing young woman, this novel explores the complicated dynamics of immigrant families and the universal quest for belonging and identity.” 
Town & Country, The Must-Read Books of Summer 2019

“Told with gorgeous prose, the strongest aspect of Kwok’s storytelling is the revelation of how differently these characters see themselves versus how they are seen by the world…. These characters prove the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of social and personal challenges and our ability to become the people we’re meant to be.”
—New York Journal of Books

“A masterful probing of the role of culture and family in the formation of self; a profound look at immigration the world over, an exquisite, haunting tale about sisterhood; a lovely, lyrical coming of age story and an absolute must read for those who enjoy the genre of women’s fiction.”

“Part domestic suspense, part generational saga and all heart, Searching for Sylvie Lee unfolds in an enthralling way that will upend all readers’ expectations…an unforgettable and powerful story of love, loss and truth.”

 “Searching for Sylvie Lee is riveting.  A dazzling, talented woman disappears, leading her younger sister to search the Netherlands—and the past—for the truth. This novel is part mystery, part saga of an immigrant family.  It is both gripping and emotionally resonant on every page—a remarkable achievement.”
—Scott Turow, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Testimony

“Her book explores the mirage of the American Dream. Sylvie seems to have made it in every sense of the word, but Kwok’s story asks: What is the price of realizing this dream? And who must pay it?”
The New York Times, 4 Writers to Watch This Summer

"When Sylvie travels to the Netherlands to visit her dying grandmother and vanishes without a trace, Amy breaks out of her shell and goes searching for her. But what she finds are answers to questions about her family she didn't know she had."
—Buzzfeed, 17 Page-Turners You'll Be Obsessed With This Summer

“The disappearance of a sibling is the real-life inspiration for author Jean Kwok's novel, which centers on what happens after Sylvie goes missing from Amsterdam. While Searching for Sylvie Lee is fiction inspired by real circumstances, it is no less thrilling for it.”
The Week, The Best Summer Books of 2019

“This compelling mystery will scoop you up from page one and won’t let go until the very end. Come for the mystery surrounding Sylvie’s disappearance, and stay for Kwok’s empathetic and masterful exploration of the painful choices one family makes to survive and the unintended consequences of intergenerational secrets and misunderstandings.”
The Daily Beast, The Best Summer Beach Reads of 2019

"Searching for Sylvie Lee is getting plenty of buzz, and it's not hard to see why. The poignant, suspenseful drama at the core of Jean Kwok's powerful novel centers on two sisters and their mother and what happens after the eldest daughter, Sylvie, goes missing. While the novel certainly has shades of a conventional, page-turning thriller, it's also so much more than that thanks to the sensitive portrait that Kwok paints of the Lees, a Chinese immigrant family with more secrets than they know what to do with." 
POPSUGAR, 21 Books Coming Out in June That We're Incredibly Excited About

"Kwok’s latest centers on an insecure young woman’s search for her older sister, Sylvie, who’s gone missing. My curiosity piqued, I started to read. No surprise, the interpersonal relationships keep the pages turning." 
—Publishers Weekly, Best Books of Summer 2019

"A favorite of Paula Hawkins, this literary novel will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions this summer. A must-read for fans of Celeste Ng."
—She Reads

"Kwok, who lives in the Netherlands, is eloquent on the clumsy, overt racism Chinese people face there.... But the book is a meditation not just on racism, but on (not) belonging. 'When you were different,' Sylvie thinks, 'who knew if it was because of a lack of social graces or the language barrier or your skin color?' A frank look at the complexities of family, race and culture." 
—Kirkus, 9 Summer Book Club Picks

“Kwok’s book is a story of sisterhood, identity and longing.”
—You Magazine, 10 new female-empowering books to add to your summer reading list

“A plot that takes us from China to the U.S. to the Netherlands. A thriller that explores issues of identity and family, more than one Traveler editor has already added it to their summer reading list.”
—Condé Nast Traveler, The Best Books to Read This Summer

“This is a beautiful and sad mystery about sacrifices, family, belonging, and the weight of secrets. The novel does a great job of balancing the family’s history, Sylvie’s childhood, and the present mystery making this a great read for fans of mystery and family dramas.”
—Book Riot

“Jean Kwok’s novel Searching for Sylvie Lee is perfect for book clubs that love discussing deep familial bonds and the effect tragedy has on a family unit.” 
Bookish, June Book Club Picks

From the critically acclaimed author of GIRL IN TRANSLATION comes a new novel of a woman gone missing, and her family’s search for her—as well as for themselves. 
—CrimeReads, The Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer

"Jean Kwok’s novel Searching for Sylvie Lee is perfect for book clubs that love discussing deep familial bonds and the effect tragedy has on a family unit."
—Bookish, 6 June Book Club Picks

"This much-anticipated novel from the author of GIRL IN TRANSLATION is part suspenseful mystery, part family drama, and inspired by a real-life tragedy in Kwok’s past. Compulsively readable, with an ending I didn’t see coming. For fans of EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL and EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU."
—Modern Mrs. Darcy 

“Like many contemporary mysteries, Searching for Sylvie Lee begins with a missing woman. But Kwok isn't interested in playing out the conventions of the genre, instead opting for a narrative structure that focuses on the missing woman and the sister who searches for her, both of whom must face questions of identity and justice in a complicated, hybridized world that offers no easy answers.”
—Thrillist, 33 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Summer

“Fans of WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE will fall hard for this new release from Jean Kwok — a book that will suck you in on your summer beach day.”
—BookBub, Best Beach Reads

“This powerful novel is a must-read.”

"A very compelling story with rich characters, grand settings and twists and turns you don’t see coming leading up to the final reveal. A great summer read from that you won’t want to put down."
—Red Carpet Crash

“This is a heartrending novel of family secrets, of discovering those you love are not always as you believe them to be, or even as they believed themselves to be. Intertwined with these discoveries is also a searing exploration of what it means to be an immigrant trying to both assimilate into the new and to hold onto the past. Beautifully written, you will be thinking about these people long after you have heard their stories.”
—Northshire Bookstore, Staff Pick

"Dazzling. A heartbreaking, tumultuous ride of a novel that upends our expectations—about family loyalty, cultural identity and the very nature of love itself—at every twist and turn. Kwok is a wise and knowing story-teller who keeps us under her spell until the very last page."
—Julie Otsuka, New York Times bestselling author of When the Emperor Was Divine and The Buddha in the Attic, a National Book Award Finalist

Searching for Sylvie Lee had me in its grip from the very first page and didn't set me loose till the last. Apart from a moving portrait of two sisters, so very different in character, it also showed me my own country—The Netherlands—and its people from a perspective from which we Dutch seldom see it. Jean Kwok has the sharp and intelligent eye of the newcomer who has lived here long enough to know perfectly well what she does and doesn't like about her second country. A wonderful portrait of immigrant family life and one of the best 'unputdownable' suspense novels I've read in a long time.”
—Herman Koch, New York Times bestselling author of The Dinner

"When brilliant, beautiful Sylvie Lee suddenly vanishes, brave Amy Lee embarks on a heart-stopping mission to find her lost sister. Crossing continents and generations, this magnificent and enthralling story unfolds with the intricate suspense of a classic mystery novel and blooms into a radiant tale of inter-generational family love. The haunting path of Amy's search for the exquisite, lost Sylvie is both mesmerizing and illuminating, spanning oceans and cultures, revealing secret promises and unforeseen passions."   
—Lan Samantha Chang, author of Inheritance, winner of the PEN Open Book Award, director of the University of Iowa MFA Program

“This isn’t a novel—it’s a puzzle box of familial secrets, some dark, others luminous, all of it haunting, mysterious, and completely satisfying. I was utterly spellbound.”
—Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Deftly moving between generations and from New York to the Netherlands, Searching for Sylvie Lee is a page-turner, and a suspenseful journey of secrets, family, loyalty, and loss.”
—Lisa Ko, award-winning author of The Leavers, a National Book Award Finalist

“Jean Kwok’s luminous new novel had me enthralled from page one. Masterfully written, this suspenseful story of two sisters, and the power of long-buried secrets, is also a profound exploration of one immigrant family’s search for identity and belonging in an increasingly global world. Searching for Sylvie Lee will haunt me for a long time.”
—Sari Wilson, acclaimed author of Girl through Glass
“Written in prose as mesmerizing and full of depth as a perfect pearl, Kwok’s new literary masterwork explores the Chinese immigrant experience both in New York and in Holland, but what it’s really getting at is what it means for anyone to belong—to both your community, your family—and to yourself, even as it explores one of my all-time favorite questions, ‘How well do we know the ones we love? And how well do we know our own selves?’ So smart about the price of being a sibling, the way families shift and change, and how secrets can damage as much as they can free, this is a novel that I loved and admired so much, I want everyone else on the planet to feel the same.“
—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You, Is this Tomorrow and the bestseller Cruel Beautiful World

Searching for Sylvie Lee made my pulse race and my heart ache. This novel takes readers twist by twist down an unpredictable path. Guided by Jean Kwok's masterful writing, we move toward a conclusion that we never see coming – and that we realize afterward could have been no other way. But this is not simply a thrilling mystery. It is a wrenching, rich, and emotionally resonant work of art. Kwok writes about identity, longing, language, and loss. She writes about how our cultures form us – how family members who grow up in different countries are divided by their experiences and bound together by their love. Searching for Sylvie Lee combines extraordinary events with the beauty of people's ordinary lives. It is unforgettable."
—Julia Phillips, acclaimed author of Disappearing Earth