Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng, was my in real life Book Club’s next book. I was super excited when I heard this as I loved Ng’s second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, and had been wanting to read this one for awhile.
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, a Chinese American family, living in rural Ohio in the 1970’s. Her parents are bound and determined that Lydia will live the dreams that they never pursued. All this changes when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, and the Lee family starts to fall apart. In this falling there are family secrets, and resentment seething out of each of the family members.
The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you–whether because you didn’t get to have your say, or because the other person never got to hear you and really wanted to.
This is a story of grief, family struggles, and love. This subtle, suspenseful story had me flipping the 292 pages so fast that I couldn’t stop. I read this book in two days, and would highly recommend it. Ng has captured the ability to build tension in a story at a comfortable enough pace that you want to read every word, but also need to know what is going to happen in the end. She also was able to have the reader feel so much empathy for each character, and the difficulties they were having. She moved from one character’s train of thought to the next so flawlessly that you can’t help but admire her prose. I found it hard to believe that this is her first novel!
You loved so hard and hoped so much and then you ended up with nothing. Children who no longer needed you. A husband who no longer wanted you. Nothing left but you, alone, and empty space.
This novel was very layered. Obviously the story line of figuring out how Lydia was killed… but even more so you were sucked into the struggle of motherhood, and the complexity of a bi-racial family. In this time period (1970’s), bi-racial couples were not common, but also rarely accepted. Ng was able to tell the struggles that went on within their family, and the marriage.
This was a fantastic book for out book club to dig into. We had tons of conversations about the relationships within the novel, and there were definitely different points of view brought up. I love it when a book can dig up some deep feelings within a reader.
Until next time, happy reading!!