Everything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng
Why did you choose this book? this was a book club selection
When did you read this book? January 2016
Who should read this book? readers of family dramas or mysteries
Source: library book club set
Here is a synopsis of Everything I Never Told You from Goodreads
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 read this one for my book club this month. It was a bit of a surprise to me. I really didn’t expect to like it much at all.
“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.”
That’s how the book starts out, and it really didn’t appeal to me. I think I expected another ‘The Lovely Bones’ and I really, really didn’t like that one!
There is a lot NOT to like about this book; for the most part the characters were not very likeable. I’m not sure you could find a worse set of parents unless they were outright abusive. These were not. They loved their children, in fact. But between helicopter parenting one and inflicting their dreams on her, failing to defend and support another, and totally ignoring a third, it was easy to dislike James and Marilyn.
The book touched heavily on racism and the way James was made to feel like an outsider because of his ‘Oriental’ ancestry. This made it easy to dislike many characters in the book. But it did give background on the times the book was set in, the 1950s - 1970s.
As much as there were incidents to dislike, they did not detract from my enjoyment of the book, as they were part of the story. The story is a little bit of a mystery, as we don’t learn until very near the end the circumstances of Lydia’s death. But it is also a story of family and communication. This was a good pick for our book club. There are many possible topics for discussion; parenting-styles, family communications, racism, how times have changed, and many others. I think whether you read this as an individual or as part of a book club, this one is worth picking up!
My Rating: ★★★★ 4 Stars
My Book Club’s Rating: ★★★ — 3 Stars