After I read and loved Little Fires Everywhere, I decided I had to read Celeste Ng’s first book Everything I Never Told You. It was one of those that I had seen a lot, but never picked it up. I am so glad I finally read it. It was SO good.
“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” This is slightly haunting way that the book begins.
Everything I Never Told You is about a Chinese American family living in a small town in Ohio in the 1970s. Lydia Lee is the center of her parents’ world. She is the middle of three children, and her parents’ favorite child. What her parents want more than anything is for Lydia to be everything they never were. Her father, a Chinese American who has always felt alienated and different, wants Lydia to be the popular, social, well-liked person that he never was. He just wanted her to fit it. For her mother, Lydia will fulfill the dreams she had of becoming a doctor. All she wants is for Lydia to be stand out and be different.
But when Lydia’s body is found in the lake, the family is left wondering how it such a thing could have happened. The Lee family must deal with not only her death, but the way that her presence has kept her fragile family intact.
Everything I Never Told You is about the secrets we keep from others, the relationships between family members, loneliness and grief. It was so incredibly well written. And I think anyone that has ever felt different, or who ever felt like they were being someone that they weren’t will really identify with the book at least in some way.
I really loved this book. There is a little bit of mystery to it – What really happened to Lydia? Celeste Ng is such an amazing writer. She does such a fantastic job of developing her characters. And I really felt like she captured all of the inner workings of the family dynamic – between parents and children, between the three siblings – and all of the struggles that go on behind closed doors. I can’t wait for her to write another book.
So have you read Everything I Never Told You? If so, what did you think? If not, I highly recommend it!