Spotlight on The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk


Title: The Girl Who Wrote in Silk
Author: Kelli Estes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Genres: General Fiction, Historical



While exploring her aunt’s island estate, Inara Erickson is captivated
by an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. The
truth behind the silk sleeve dated back to 1886, when Mei Lien, the
lone survivor of a cruel purge of the Chinese in Seattle found refuge
on the island and shared her tragic experience by embroidering it.

The lives of Inara Erickson and Mei Lien are intertwined through the
sleeve that holds centuries of secrets. After uncovering the truth,
Inara must make an impossible choice: share the secret and shake her
family to its core or keep the secret hidden and dishonor Mei Lein.



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An Excerpt from The Girl Who Wrote in Silk


Sunday, February 7, 1886 — just past sunset
Puget Sound, Washington Territory

Liu Mei Lien felt the steamship shudder beneath her feet and wondered if the quaking of her own body had caused it.

“You don’t have a choice,” Father hissed. Before she knew what was happening he’d prodded her to the ship’s cold metal railing. “Climb up, Mei Lien.”

She looked at him in horror. Obeying him was something she always did without question. But this? “I can’t.” She pressed a hand to where her heart pounded in her chest and felt the coin purse under her bindings. “Please!”

His face hardened. “Do not disappoint me, Daughter. Do it. Now!”

His tone made her fear recede long enough for her to hear her own voice of reason. It told her Father was right. She had no other choice.

Shaking, she climbed up on the railing to sit at the top, her hands holding tight to the wet metal bar. Beneath her right palm she felt a pockmark where someone had painted over an old chip. She wondered if that was the last thing she’d touch before death.

Before Mei Lien could say another word, Father placed his palms at the small of her back and pushed her off the steamship.

“Bà ba!” she screamed, the words echoing all the way down. Then she felt her breath leave her as she hit the freezing cold water. Icy fingers dragged her down, into the void below.

Somehow she found the strength to fight. Kicking and clawing at the water, she dragged herself upward, her lungs on fire.

As her head broke through the surface she dragged in lungsful of air between wracking coughs. When she managed to wipe the water away from her eyes with her fingers she saw the ship passing dangerously close. Father stood at the railing but his back was to her, as if he hadn’t just cruelly pushed his only child to what could be her death.

A wave splashed over her face and she felt herself sinking down again. This time her limbs felt stiff and her muscles were starting to cramp in the near-freezing water. Instinct took over, making her feet kick as she dragged her body away from the ship with her arms, as Father had taught her all those years ago. She shut off her mind and swam, with no idea of what she might be heading toward.

Mei Lien’s head pounded from the cold. With each kick her limbs ached to rest, to give in to the pull from below that promised ease and warmth.

She looked one last time toward the ship but it was little more than a distant blur of light growing smaller.

Her family was gone from her. Her life was gone from her. If she gave into the pull of the water, what would it matter?

She stopped trying to fight and let herself fall into the water’s frigid grasp, willing it to carry her to the spirit world. She even saw death coming. It rose out of the water as a huge black sea monster, one glaring yellow eye boring into her aching head. Just as the monster grabbed her, she felt the void take over her mind.

She welcomed it.


About the Author

Kelli EstesKelli Estes grew up in the apple country of Eastern Washington before attending Arizona State University where she learned she’d be happiest living near the water, so she moved to Seattle after graduation. Today she lives in a Seattle suburb with her husband and two sons. When not writing, Kelli loves volunteering at her kids’ schools, reading (of course!), traveling (or playing tourist in Seattle), dining out, exercising (because of all the dining), and learning about health and nutrition. Find her at, or


“A powerful debut that proves the threads that interweave our lives can
withstand time and any tide, and bind our hearts forever”—Susanna Kearsley,
New York Times bestselling author of A Desperate Fortune and The Firebird

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is a beautiful, elegiac novel, as finely and
delicately woven as the title suggests. Kelli Estes spins a spellbinding
tale that illuminates the past in all its brutality and beauty, and
the humanity that binds us all together.” – Susan Wiggs, New York Times
bestselling author of The Beekeeper’s Ball