Author: Celeste Ng
Publisher: Penguin Books
Published Date: May 12th 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Mystery
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
“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, drama, 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.
“They will dissect this last evening for years to come. What had they missed that they should have seen? What small gesture, forgotten, might have changed everything? They will pick it down to the bones, wondering how this had all gone so wrong, and they will never be sure.”
This book starts right off with the statement Lydia is dead. We don’t know if it was suicide or murder and we don’t learn that answer until almost the end. Instead we learn about the background of the family. How the parents James and Marilyn met and ended up getting married. How Marilyn put her dreams on hold so she could have a family and a husband. How James dealt with being an Asian American in the 50’s-70’s and how their mixed children dealt with it as well.
Nathan: Oldest child and often pushed to the side
Lydia: The favorite and golden child
Hannah: Forgotten and pushed to the side all the time
"One went up and the other went down. One gained, the other lost. One escaped, the other was trapped, forever."
All of children were expected by their parents to be social and try to fit in at all costs. That is except for Marilyn trying to get Lydia to live out her dream that she had never gotten. And Lydia doing it willingly because she was afraid if she didn’t the family would crumble again. Nathan’s interest were pushed to the side because his father couldn’t handle them and he just wanted his son to be social like he hadn’t been. So instead Nath hides his interests and works on them in private. Hannah was the forgotten one, the one that no one wanted to deal with. So instead she sat back and watch and learned from them.
"You've never been in a room where no one else looked like you. You've never had people mock you to your face. You've never been treated like a stranger."
This book not only dealt with a mixed family dynamic, but also sexism, and racism. How it was not only present in the outside world, but in the family as well. But it doesn’t do it in a way that those are the main focus of the book. Instead for me what the main focus of the book seemed to be was how communication gets lost in families. How because we don’t want to say no or rock the boat and disappoint those we love, we keep everything inside until it’s too late and it all bubbles over. How when it does bubble over we say and do extremely hurtful things that we immediately regret. While the problems in this family might not be apart of every family the lessons that they learned are ones that we can all take and apply to our own lives in some form or another.
"Their family had felt precarious, as if they were teetering on a cliff. Before that she hadn't realized how fragile happiness was, how if you were careless, you could knock it over and shatter it."The only thing that made this not be a 5 star book for me was the confusing character and time jumps in this book.