Original title: Everything I Never Told You
Edition Language: English
Format: Audio book
Read by: Cassandra Campbell
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
I listened to this book on audio and this is my first 5 star book of the year although it was written in 2014. I read Little Fires Everywhere in December 2018 and loved it as well. I was a bit afraid that I might be disappointed, as I loved Little Fires Everywhere, but instead I found a new favorite author. I will be reading whatever she writes next for sure.
It is a beautifully written story, and I was again impressed with how Celeste Ng mixes the characters' destinies, lives and brings together into a beautiful piece of writing.
This is the story of a dysfunctional family dealing with the death of 16-year-old Lydia, the middle “favorite” child. You get to see snapshots of each family member's life, in the past and in the present. The story of Lydia is also interesting. She seems to be in a lot of mental turmoil leading up to her death and we slowly uncover what happened to her. She is constantly under pressure, particularly from her mother, to excel academically and from her father to make friends, try to fit in and be "normal". We learn just how desperate she is to please them and at the same time escape from them. Her only help is her brother Nath, who understand all her troubles without saying. This connection between then is really exceptional and was my favorite part of the book. Different of age and gender they are really close and support each other to overcome their parents’ disappointment and indifference towards Nath and uncontrollable admiration and love towards Lydia. I never thought that love can be so dangerous, even more dangerous than indifference.
Additionally, I appreciated how Ng tackled issues of race, womanhood, and identity. But first and foremost, I think this story is truly about parents who are trying to live through their child’s life, the things that they themselves wanted and failed to achieve. It made me feel so much sadness for the children, and even for the parents as they seemed to be so sure that they were doing the right thing for their daughter.