Everything I Never Told You

Ng, Celeste

(Book - 2014)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Everything I Never Told You
"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet. So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue-in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James's case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party. When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest of the family-Hannah-who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, The Penguin Press,, 2014
ISBN: 9781594205712
Branch Call Number: FICTION NG 2014
Characteristics: 297 pages ;,23 cm


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Dec 15, 2014
  • nionoff rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

The reason I picked up this book is because it was chosen as the best new novel of 2014 by Amazon. It did not disappoint! The story deals with the mysterious death of a child, but the layered narrative involves interracial marriage, tiger-mom upbringing, family dynamics and child neglect. Absolutely stunning, certainly one of the best books I read in quite a while.

Nov 29, 2014
  • chenc1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Wonderfully written, powerful novel from a debut novelist. No wonder this book was chosen as the #1 Amazon Best Book of 2014. Really drives home the point - how well do we really know one another, even our own family members? Nothing is as it seems.

Nov 03, 2014
  • ValleyViewLibrarians rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Intricately plotted and with luminous characterizations, this will appeal to readers who like to be wholly immersed in their stories. Ng expertly uses five different voices to slowly peel back what seems like hundreds of layers in this family drama, creating an authentic family portrait that is equally tragic and beautiful.

Oct 30, 2014
  • gusmcrae rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"Everything I Never Told You" is a pretty amazing first novel. When the story opens, the family's middle daughter, Lydia, has gone missing. She is dead (the novel's opening line reveals this), and her death causes the family to unravel. I'll admit, when I first started the book, I thought it was going to be a lot like "The Lovely Bones"--middle class family in 1970s middle America loses their daughter. But this story took a different path. The Lee family is a "mixed" family--James is Chinese American and Marilyn is a white from Virginia. Both parents had high hopes for Lydia, brought on by their own failures and insecurities. James has always felt like out outcast as the "Oriental" in the white world. Marilyn's dreams of being a doctor (being something more than her own Home Ec teaching mother had been), were lost when she learned she would be a mother. Ng unwraps their stories through alternating narratives, and includes the perspectives of oldest son, Nathan and youngest daughter, Hannah, who have lived their lives in Lydia's shadow.

Ng has a beautiful way with words and brought each of the characters to life so clearly that I truly felt the pain of the the loss of Lydia. I also am impressed with the depth of Ng's storytelling. She managed to turn a story about a family's tragedy into a larger reflection on race and gender in this country during this past century.

I look forward to this author's future works.

Oct 11, 2014
  • becker rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A thoughtful book. It would offer great conversation in a book club.

Aug 26, 2014
  • joanalang rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Lovely writing, many-layered, complex unwinding of a family's grief, pain and loss, and some important discoveries along their shared and separate paths. Many issues of gender, race, discrimination and the damage it does, longings and disappointments--and, most poignantly, the damage that well-intentioned and loving parents, who are themselves damaged by their own histories and parents, can inflict on their children. Hard to believe this assured and moving novel is the author's first. I really cared about her characters, and I will surely be looking for her books to come.

"A first novel by a Pushcart Prize-winning writer explores the fallout of a favorite daughter's shattering death on a Chinese-American family in 1970s Ohio." Fiction A to Z August 2014 newsletter http://www.libraryaware.com/996/NewsletterIssues/ViewIssue/a4f4d377-8dd6-440e-bb35-99f389939f47?postId=03c1c147-b517-499d-b132-6db115231ff1

Aug 17, 2014
  • TracyGuza rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Reminded me of the Lovely Bones meets Caucasia meets The Interestings. I am enraptured by how each character is so well developed in such a relatively short novel.

Aug 14, 2014
  • kenglish43 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

kids having bad things happening to them

Aug 07, 2014
  • KateHillier rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet" is the first line of this book and it works on two levels. One being the actual death of Lydia Lee, the middle child of James and Marilyn Lee and sister of Nathan and Hannah - children who have been neglected however inadvertently by their parents due to their investing all their efforts and attention into Lydia. The other being exactly who and what Lydia is to them. Them being the parents more so than the children but really to everyone. The first third of the book deals with the frantic days of a missing child who becomes a dead child while the rest goes back into the family's history - all the way back to when Marilyn was a woman wanting to enter the male dominated field of medicine while James was a fourth year graduate student teaching a class on the American Cowboy - and he is American but his parents came over from China.

It's a tale of the makeup, and remaking, of this family as much as it is the story of being different (visibly and otherwise) and how little even family knows about one another at times. It's heart wrenching almost more so for that rather than the actual death of Lydia since, really, how much of Lydia did anyone really know?

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app07 Version gurli Last updated 2014/12/09 10:52