Thomas's Reviews > Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
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2018505
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really liked it
bookshelves: adult-fiction, read-for-college, realistic-fiction, historical-fiction, 2nd-favorites

4.5 stars

Let me tell you: Everything I Never Told You belongs on my imaginary "omg-omg-omg" shelf. Some books spin me into a hazy trance, while others wrap up my attention with such ferocity that I have no choice but to whisper-scream "omg-omg-omg" as I read them. Celeste Ng's sharp storytelling, three-dimensional characters, and incisive writing all made me say "omg-omg-omg" over and over throughout her debut novel, something I have not done for at least a month.

Lydia is dead, but her family does not know that yet. Lydia, the brightest and whitest of the mixed race Lee children, faces the brunt of her parents' expectations: her mother dreams that she will fulfill her own lost ambition of going to medical school, while her father wants her to have all the popularity he could never possess. Nathan, Lydia's Harvard-bound, space-obsessed older brother, and Hannah, Lydia's ghost-like younger sister, both get ignored by their parents while Lydia takes center stage. But when Lydia is found at the bottom of a lake in their small Ohio town, the Lee family gets thrown into chaos, where they will learn about all the secrets they each have ever kept, or they will lose the ties that had bonded them forever.

The characters in this book pulsated through its pages. Marilyn, James, Lydia, Nath, and Hannah all had believable, fleshed-out backstories that drew my interest and broke my heart. We see Marilyn and James project their unfulfilled desires onto their children; we view Lydia, Nath, and Hannah struggle to bear the weight of their parents' standards; we watch as Lydia's death tears them all asunder. Ng delves into each character's perspective with precision and style, and she pulls their stories together to make a heart-wrenching whole.

I appreciated how Ng tackled issues of race, womanhood, and identity in Everything I Never Told You. She gives Marilyn all the ambition and intellect in the world, then thwarts her without blinking an eye. She supplies James with enough insecurity to sink a ship, then provdes him with an attractive, Asian graduate student to sublimate his grief. Ng shows the intergenerational effects of Asian-American assimilation and the inherent struggles of fitting in and standing out at the same time.

Overall, a wonderful, emotion-filled contemporary drama packed with powerful relationships and an intriguing, sorrowful mystery. I would recommend it to fans of adult fiction focused on familial relationships, as well as to fans of Jodi Picoult and Amy Tan. Everything I Never Told You made me whisper-scream "omg-omg-omg" without stop, and I hope it does the same to you, too.
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Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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Savindi Ohhh I have to read this one! A friend of mine gifted this one to me for my birthday. I can't wait to read it.


message 2: by Ksenia (new) - added it

Ksenia What a wonderful and emotional review, Thomas! Everything I Never Told You is on my tbr-shelf for a while, but you convince me to finally pick it up. I love your writing style; it’s such a pleasure to read your reviews.


Thomas Savindi wrote: "Ohhh I have to read this one! A friend of mine gifted this one to me for my birthday. I can't wait to read it."

So cool that we both own copies of this! Looking forward to reading your thoughts when you get to it, Savindi.

Ksenia wrote: "What a wonderful and emotional review, Thomas! Everything I Never Told You is on my tbr-shelf for a while, but you convince me to finally pick it up. I love your writing style; it’s such a pleasur..."

Thank you so much for your kind words, Ksenia! It brings me happiness to know that my writing can influence people to pick up books that have the potential to change their lives.


Xueting Great review! I'm reading this right now and I agree with everything you say. The characters all lead such sad lives, yet it's so realistic! Which probably makes it even sadder. I wonder how the mystery concludes though, but judging from how your and many other reviews don't really talk about the mystery itself, it shouldn't be something huge?


Thomas Thank you, Xueting! I see your four-star rating and feel glad that you enjoyed the story. I agree that the characters lead sad lives but I think that plays into the subtle power of the story. I have a curiosity about your opinion about the ending that maybe we can discuss in a different thread so no one reading these comments receives an unexpected spoiler.


Xueting Sure! It was an interesting ending...


message 7: by Hyeon (new) - added it

Hyeon Thank you for the recommendation, I was having hard time finding a book that I want to read. I actually haven't read a book for several months , but ready to start now.


Thomas Hyeon wrote: "Thank you for the recommendation, I was having hard time finding a book that I want to read. I actually haven't read a book for several months , but ready to start now."

You are welcome! Hope you enjoy it, Hyeon. :)


Elva what do you mean by "three dimentional characters"?


Cristine Mermaid wow, I'm going to read it


Thomas Cristine wrote: "wow, I'm going to read it"

Hope you enjoyed it Cristine, even though you gave it only three stars!

Elva wrote: "what do you mean by "three dimentional characters"?"

Hey Elva, I mean characters who are well-developed and have multiple facets to their personalities! Like this in a way: http://writersrelief.com/blog/2013/11...


Cristine Mermaid Oh I did like it ! I'm glad I read it


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