I’ve finally got round to writing my review for Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng! I read this book in September (yes, that long ago), but I wanted to write a full review for it on my blog, so here it is…
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. -synopsis from Goodreads
I’ve seen this classed as a ‘thriller’, and initially I disagreed with that because the thrillers I tend to read are usually fast paced. However, this is definitely a slow burner and the book does open up with a disappearance which pays homage to that idea. The choice of a 1970s setting is integral to the image Ng is creating, and this enables a fragile character portrait of each family member to be depicted.
“Before that she hadn’t realised how fragile happiness was, how if you were careless, you could knock it over and shatter it”
When thinking of how to categorise this novel, I’d probably go with a social commentary that delves into family dynamics. There are so many avenues to explore with this book, from ideas of marginalisation, to race, family, love, and acceptance. It is full of rich ideas and symbolisms, such as the water that has flooded the lives of Lydia’s family.
Ng dissects the events in life that people often overlook, decide not to share, or shy away from. But these events are often the ones that shape us. I think that Ng’s writing style was really powerful and that helps to guide to reader to figuring out what happened. The ending for me was really heavy and it encompasses everything Ng didn’t tell us. The parts that are blurred are important and if you haven’t read this I hope you pick it up one day!
“The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you”
I found it difficult to rate this book as it was a 4 star read but also kind of a borderline 4.5 star read! I’m quite indecisive but I think I’ll go with 4.25!