Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Published: May 12, 2015 [paperback]
Format: via publisher
“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, drama, 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.
Everything I Never Told You had me from the very start. It all starts with the missing Lydia and that sets off a string of events that shows us how fractured this family really is. We see how her parents met and how each one of them was looking to escape their own families. We then see how in the Lee family each child is seen to their parents and what is expected of them.
The eldest son just wants out and can’t wait to leave his family behind. All he wants is to get into college and impress his father. The youngest daughter is practically invisible to both her parents. It’s Lydia who is the one who has the most pressure upon her. Her father wants her to be popular and excepted by the kids at school, while her mother wants her to be a doctor something she never finished before becoming a wife and mother. So what is Lydia to do? She lies and just wants to please her parents so she lives a lie becoming the popular and stellar student her parents want. So when she isn’t found one morning everything her parents thought she was comes to light and when she is found dead they realize they didn’t know their daughter at all.
While I loved this beautifully written novel what I thought was a suspense novel really wasn’t. I thought it was going to be more of a who done it when in actuality it was a novel of a family on the brink of destruction. The pressures that the parents put on Lydia were so much but were it enough to make her break or was there something more? I enjoyed the unpeeling of layers that this story provided and it showed us why each parent acted the way they did. This is one novel that is a page turner and a treasure of a read.