Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes

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Product Details (via

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (July 7, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1492608335

ISBN-13: 978-1492608332

Book Synopsis (via

The smallest items can hold centuries of secrets…
Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt’s island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara’s life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.
Inspired by true events, Kelli Estes’s brilliant and atmospheric debut serves as a poignant tale of two women determined to do the right thing, and the power of our own stories.

My Review

During a 3 hour car trip to visit my husband’s Grandmother down in Kentucky, I decided to download an audiobook to help the time pass.  I needed a way to drown out the incessant noise of the DVD player playing Frozen from the back seat.  If I had to hear the song “Let it Go” one more time, I was going to toss the DVD out the window.  I opened Hoopla, and began my search.  When I came across this book on the available audiobooks feed, the title caught my attention instantly.  The Girl who Wrote in Silk?  What is this all about? Quickly scanning the book description, I decided to go for it. 

Right from the start I became immersed in the stories of Mei Lein and Inara.  The book toggles back and forth between the two women.  Mei Lein’s story takes place in the late 1800s and Inara’s story is set in the present.  At first, the two stories seem un-related, but as the author spins her tale, we learn there is a deep connection between the two.  I felt the author did a wonderful job transitioning between the two time periods and that the book flowed very nicely.  I was engaged the entire time and was invested in finding out the secrets of the silk sleeve.  The author tackles some “heavy” topics in this novel.  I tend to be drawn to books that are tragic in nature, so this suited me just fine, but if you are looking for a “feel good” book, this isn’t it.  The central theme of this book is racial intolerance.  Specifically, white Americans against Chinese immigrants during the late 1800s.  The author brings to light the reality of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers into the United States. In my opinion, the author did a wonderful job shedding light on an important part of history, and showing the implications of this act to the Chinese immigrants and their families who were in the United States during this time. 

You can learn move about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 here

I cannot express enough how happy I am that I came across this gem.  I was very surprised that this was the author’s debut novel.  She will definitely be on my radar from now on as an author to watch.  If you love historical fiction with mystery interwoven throughout, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is a must read!

Still on the fence?  Read an exert here 

My Rating: ****/5

About the Author (via

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Kelli Estes grew up in the apple country of eastern Washington State before attending Arizona State University. While she loved the desert, she quickly learned that she loves large bodies of water even more so after graduation she moved to Seattle. Today she lives in a Seattle suburb with her husband and two sons. When not writing, she volunteers at her kids’ schools, reads voraciously, travels (or just plays “tourist” in Seattle), goes out to eat, exercises (because of all the eating), and learns about health and nutrition.

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