For Book Clubs

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is for book clubs who loved…

Orphan Train
by Christina Baker Kline
Sarah’s Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay
Snow Falling on Cedars
by David Guterson

About the Book

In 1886, Mei Lien is washed up on Orcas Island, the lone survivor of a cruel purge of the Chinese from Seattle. She is determined to tell her heartbreaking story the only way she knows how: through needle and thread. A century later, Inara Erickson, enlisting the help of a local professor, uncovers details in Mei Lien’s delicate embroidery that could have far-reaching repercussions for her own life. Should she bring shame to her family and risk everything by telling the truth, or tell no one and dishonor Mei Lien’s memory?

Read a sample here.

What People are Saying about THE GIRL WHO WROTE IN SILK

"The story is compelling, heart wrenching, and absolutely a beautiful read."
— Debbie Buck, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA
"A testament to the endurance of the human spirit and the human heart… [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
"Vibrant and tragic, The Girl Who Wrote In Silk explores a horrific, little-known era in our nation’s history. Estes sensitively alternates between Mei Lien, a young Chinese-American girl who lived in the late 1800s, and Inara, a modern recent college grad who sets Mei Lien’s story free."
— Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife and Sisters of Heart and Snow
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Discussion Questions

For a printout of the Reading Group Guide included in the back of the book, click here. Note, there are spoilers!

Bonus Questions!

  1. Fill in the blank: What would the title of your life story be? “The Girl/Boy Who ___________.”
  2. The anti-Chinese sentiment grew so large that in 1882 the U.S. government created immigration laws preventing Chinese people from entering the country (repealed in 1943). The topic of immigration has been a hot topic in the news lately with relation to the Syrian refugee crisis as well as the U.S. Presidential election candidates’ differing views on illegal immigrants and border patrol. Do you feel various world governments have learned anything from the past? Is there a better answer to these issues than how governments are dealing with them now?
  3. Orcas Island feels magical to Inara in such a way that she knows she belongs there, but can’t really explain why. Have you ever felt that way about a place you’ve visited or lived? What was it that spoke to your soul?


For signed book plates for your book club members, send a list of your members names (if they want their book plates personalized) along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Kelli Estes, P.O. Box 2851, Woodinville, WA 98072.

Food and Beverage Guide

These ideas either appear in the book or are inspired by the characters. Have an idea to add to the list? Email Kelli.


  • Saltine crackers (chapter one)
  • Preserved cabbage and onions mixed with rice and broth (chapter two)
  • Breadsticks (chapter nine)
  • Biscuits (chapter thirteen, fifteen, sixteen, eighteen) with blackberry jam
  • Carrots and cucumbers, garden salad (chapter thirteen)
  • Bacon (chapter fifteen)
  • Smoked salmon
  • Steamer clams
  • Clam chowder
  • Apples
  • Egg rolls
  • Chili wontons

Main Course

  • Fried ham and potatoes with dried apples (chapter six)
  • Canned salmon and biscuits (chapter thirteen)
  • Steamed fish with preserved olives (chapter thirteen)
  • Rabbit stew (chapter eighteen)
  • Grilled salmon (chapter twenty-one)
  • Clay pot chicken (chapter twenty-one)
  • Chinese take-out
  • Fish tacos


  • Preserved plums (chapter two)
  • Store-bought cookies (chapter nine)
  • Blackberry Cobbler (chapter thirteen)
  • Leftover rice mixed with diced apples, cinnamon and sugar (chapter twenty-four)
  • Scones (chapter twenty-six)
  • Apple Pie