Rating – 4.67 out of 5
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng starts one unassuming day in 1970s where Lydia Lee does not show up to breakfast. As time goes on it becomes obvious that something horrible has happened to her. As her family deals with the news of her passing, going back through their past is the only way to understand her present. Exploring many different aspects of their family life it shows a vignette of a dysfunctional family in a time of crisis.
“Before that she hadn’t realized how fragile happiness was how if you were carless,
you could knock it over and shatter it”
-Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You
Why I liked Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This book was emotionally heavy. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a daughter and sister because it’s the unimaginable. The loss of a family member leaves such an indelible mark that cannot be ignored. This book does a great job of showing how a family system is dependent upon each of its individual members. Losing one of these members, makes the whole dynamic fall apart. The depth that the novel goes into around a dysfunctional family is unblinking and masterful. I was amazed by Ng’s ability to craft a beautiful narrative around a broken family.
Otherness in America was at the forefront of this novel. The family was very much shaped at points by the way that everyone reacted to them. The marriage of Marilyn and James was started with the realization of how Marilyn’s mother wanted something different for her. Their children defined by their otherness in their schools. The impact that it had, that even the members of the family could not explain or talk about, was true to life. While these issues are different now than they were a generation ago, mixed race is still an complex issue. I appreciated how Ng dealt with these issues with care and truthfulness.
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