Book Clubbin’: 10 Discussion Questions for ‘White Ivy’ by Susie Yang

We’re back again with our monthly blog feature, Book Clubbin’! For a lot of us, the weather is starting to get colder and greyer as the days go by and since we’re still encouraged to stay home as much as possible you may be running out of things to do around the house and missing your friends more than ever. Why not try to set up a virtual book club, so that you can get facetime with your pals and stay connected during these tough times.

Plus, with audiobooks, you can just throw them on while you’re doing chores, going for a walk, raking the leaves (or shoveling snow if you already have some), cooking, working…the possibilities are endless.

This month our Book Clubbin’ pick is White Ivy by Susie Yang, narrated by Audie Award winner Emily Woo Zeller. White Ivy is Yang’s debut novel, which quickly garnered attention and glowing reviews as a Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick. This listen follows Ivy Lin, A Chinese American who grew up learning to steal from her immigrant grandmother, and always dreamed of living a lavish lifestyle. She attracted the attention of local golden boy, Gideon, who comes from money. Ivy’s parents ship her off to China to see relatives and when she returns her family has moved away from everything she ever knew.

Jump to years later, Ivy runs into Gideon’s sister and is catapulted into the way of living that she always dreamed of, but ghosts from her past resurface threatening the nearly perfect life she worked so hard to build.

This month’s pick is filled with surprising twists and offers sharp insights into the immigrant experience. If you’re ready to start discussing White Ivy with your book club, dive into the questions below. Beware— SPOILERS ahead.


1) Ivy has always strived to portray herself as respectable and just, so when she is caught stealing she feels humiliated, thinking her reputation has taken a blow. Why do you think Ivy places so much value in conforming to societal standards? And do you think that these beliefs were born more of nature or nurture?

2) Yang has said that she was inspired by male characters’ rise and falls in shows like Breaking Bad and House of Cards, showing that they are “fascinating and evil.” Do you think that Ivy was an evil character?

3) Money plays a large part in White Ivy. Discuss the relationships that various characters have with money and how they view it. Why do certain characters have a more visceral response to money than others?

4) Why does Ivy have such a hard time embracing her Chinese culture?

5) Ivy meets Gideon’s mentor, Dave, and his wife, Liana, who is Asian. How was their interracial relationship different from Ivy and Gideon’s?

6) The title, White Ivy, was inspired by the Chinese proverb that says, “The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white.” How do you interpret this quote, and in turn the title?

7) Ivy has quite different relationships with both Roux and Gideon. What does Ivy get out of each relationship? Why do you think she still seems unfulfilled by both characters?

8) Do you think that Ivy is ultimately happy at the end of the book?

9) If White Ivy was to be adapted into a movie or TV show, which actors would you hope they would cast?

10) A big secret about Gideon is revealed to Ivy before her wedding, which would make many others second guess their planned nuptials, but Ivy goes through with the wedding. What do you think this means for Ivy?

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