Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Monday, February 16, 2015

Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Pages: 292
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: The Penguin Press (Penguin Random House)
Pub. Date: June 26, 2014

Everything I Never Told You tells about the Lee family after the middle, favored, daughter, Lydia, dies. It goes back and forth a little with what happens to the family afterward and back to things that happened in the past including what led up to the day of Lydia's death. There are also things the the Lee family struggle with, as the family consists of a Chinese father and Caucasian mother with three biracial children in 1970's Ohio.

Some of my thoughts:

*I really related to the struggle felt by some of the characters of not fitting in due to their ethnicity or where even the kids who were half-Asian were looked at differently. I hated that they kept being referred to as "oriental", but that was the time they were living in.

*The author did a great job of showing the pressure the daughter experienced when each parent tried to mold her into a person based on their unrealized wishes for themselves. It was a good study of family psychology and the subtle dysfunctions they perpetuate.

*It was also a good study on the dynamics of marriage and how things were easily misconstrued and acted upon because of a very simple lack of communication.

*This is one of those books that is sad, but not the completely break your heart and have a good cry kind that ironically makes me love a book because now I feel so emotionally wrapped up in it. This doesn't necessarily leave you with any hope either. So, while a good story and greatly written, I felt very down while reading this. This could be because it was Christmas time when I read it and I should have picked something a little more cheery.

*Despite that, I really loved Ng's writing, and it kept me turning the pages. 

*There is sort of a mystery as to how exactly Lynda dies... I guess that part was sort of heart wrenching now that I think about it, in what happened and what it signified. 

*I have waffled between three and four stars for this one. When I analyze the things the author did well with this book, I lean towards four; but in terms of reading entertainment alone I am leaning towards 3. It could just be, though, that it was the wrong time of year for me to read this.


Sandy Nawrot said...

It was a huge downer for me, which I hate to say because I'm not against serious books. But it was like a huge wet blanket. I hated the parents, and Lydia's ultimate fate and story behind it was devastating to me. I do think there are great, discussable topics that resonate, especially how the parents put so much pressure on the kids to live out their dreams. It is a good lesson.

Irene McKenna said...

This sounds terrific. It's been on my list for a while, but I've been on the fence about whether to actually buy it.

Marlene Detierro said...

This is not an especially uplifting book, though by the end there's enough reconciliation that it doesn't leave you bummed out. But if you appreciate exceptional writing and powerful themes, you'll want to spend some time with Everything I Never Told You. It really is a remarkable book, and I'll watch eagerly for whatever else Celeste Ng produces in the future.

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