Cheri's Reviews > Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2017, debut-author, debut-novel, library-book, ohio
Read 2 times. Last read November 12, 2017 to November 13, 2017.

4.5 Stars

”Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast.”

This is how the book begins. They hit like a punch, knocking the wind out of you, these first sentences. And yet, while this part of the story runs throughout these pages, each person viewing the circumstances that led to her death in their own, inimitable way, this is the story of the years before, of all that led up to this day for each of the family members, and those whose lives they touch. Each relationship completely different from another, separate, unique.

To her mother, Marilyn - a disappointment to her own mother significant enough for a wedge to form on the day of her wedding, never to speak to one another again - Lydia is her hope that all of her hopes and dreams that didn’t come true will come true in Lydia. She has raised her to want to be what she, herself wanted to become – a doctor, but never did.

”Because more than anything, her mother had wanted to stand out; because more than anything, her father had wanted her to blend in. Because those things had been impossible.”

To her father, James, the son of Chinese immigrants, born in the US, he wanted nothing more than for Lydia - for all his children - to blend in, to not be noticed for their differences, to be accepted. He is a professor of American History at Middlebury College in Ohio.

Nath, the oldest, had always been there for Lydia, in his own way. He resented, but became used to the way his accomplishments were overlooked as his parents shined all their light on Lydia. He loved her, looked out for her, but he was looking forward to college, to getting away from home with no hope of escaping second place, at best.

”Dreaming of his future, he no longer heard all the things she did not say.”

Lydia, the middle child, the one her family had pinned their hopes and dreams on, not that she’d wanted that; not that she hadn’t bent to the point of breaking over the pressure of that expectation. Too afraid to shatter her mother’s hopes and dreams for her, by admitting they were not her own hopes and dreams. And so, in her own way, Lydia, who she really is, how she really feels, shrinks to invisibility, lost to all that her mother wants and needs for her to be.

Hannah was the youngest, an afterthought, perhaps, or really more a delayed surprise, her mother had become so accustomed to life as it was that sometimes she forgot all about Hannah.

” And what about Hannah? They set up her nursery in the bedroom is the attic, where things that were not wanted were kept, and even when she got older, now and then each of them would forget, fleetingly, that she existed – as when Marilyn, setting four plates for dinner one night, did not realize her omission until Hannah reached the table. Hannah, as if she understood her place in the cosmos, grew from quiet infant to watchful child: a child fond of nooks and corner, who curled up in closets, behind sofas, under dangling tablecloths, staying out of sight as well as out of mind, to ensure the terrain of the family did not change.”

In some ways, reading this felt almost like reading the personal diaries of this family, these people. Their innermost, unfiltered thoughts, their disappointments, their hurt, their anger, their passion, their hopes and dreams are all opened to view. Ng manages to show you their thoughts and feelings so slowly and delicately revealing each layer as though she’s performing a sacred ritual. Your heart goes out to them, even when they are not all particularly likeable. But the children… my heart is still breaking.

Recently, I read Ng’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ which I really enjoyed, but even though the stories are heartbreaking in ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ and ‘Everything I Never Told You’ there’s a quality that I found in this book that I missed in her newest, a lovely ethereal quality of this story, in the sharing of the thoughts of this family. It reminded me a bit of reading Eliza Henry-Jones ‘In the Quiet” which I also loved.


Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system for the loan of this book!
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Reading Progress

January 2, 2016 – Shelved
November 12, 2017 – Started Reading
November 12, 2017 – Started Reading
November 12, 2017 –
November 13, 2017 – Finished Reading
November 13, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 53 (53 new)

Cheri Thanks, Maddie!

Susanne Strong Absolutely stunning review Cheri! "But the children - my heart is still breaking." How true. I admit, I think of Hannah all of the time - and she is a fictional character, and yet, I can't help myself, my heart still breaks. So glad you loved this too!

Cheri Thanks so much Susanne! I really loved how this story was delivered a little bit at a time, I don't think my heart could have taken much more, though!

Angela M Fabulous review, Cheri . So heartbreaking for the children as you’ve eloquently said !

message 5: by Tim (new)

Tim Another cracking review, Cheri.

message 6: by Violet (new)

Violet wells Lovely review, Cheri. You make it sound very tempting!

Cheri Thank you so much, Angela. It was a bit hard to read because of how heartbreaking the children's story was, but still so worth reading!

message 8: by Karen (last edited Nov 13, 2017 02:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karen I’m so happy you liked this Cheri! Awesome review! Since I read this a couple yrs back, I also missed the quality in her newest book, was a little disappointed.

message 9: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen I still need to get to this one too. Great review, Cheri

Meredith Wonderful review, Cheri. I loved this one too—I haven’t yet read Little Fires Everywhere, but it’s good to know how they differ.

message 11: by Dale (new)

Dale Harcombe Good review. Where would we be without libraries? I shudder to think.

Brandice Great review, Cheri! I’m glad you enjoyed this one!

message 13: by Holly (new)

Holly  B Sounds like a great book Cheri!

Michelle Great review, Cheri! I gave this one 5* as well.

Julie Outstanding review, Cheri! I really liked this one, too!

message 16: by Kendall (new)

Kendall Wonderful review Cheri!!

Cheri Thanks so much, Karen! I really enjoyed both of them, but I felt the writing in this was a bit more to my preference!

Cheri Thanks, Jen! I think you will really enjoy this once you can find time for it!

Cheri Thanks so much, Meredith! Everyone is different, so you might enjoy Little Fires Everywhere more than this, but I also read them fairly close together, which might factor into it. I still think both are definitely worth reading!

Mary Beth *Traveling Sister* Fantastic review Cheri!

Cheri Thanks, Dale! With funding being pulled from so many libraries, and so many closing, I am even more conscious of what a blessing they are to so many!

Kaceey - Traveling Sister Wonderful review Cheri!

Cheri Thanks so much, Brandice. I'm glad you did, too!

Cheri Thanks so much, Holly, I think you might actually like this!

Lizzy (Bent Bookworm) Wow. Added to TBR. Sounds incredible but painful!

Marialyce Loved this book! Glad you did too!

Cheri Thanks so much, Michelle - I just read your wonderful review, I really enjoyed what you said about the family members not having an ability to communicate with each other, to "say what they really wanted to say." So true!

Cheri Thanks so much, Julie. Books like these, I just fall into, and I know they'll stay with me forever.

Cheri Thank you, Kendall!

Cheri Thank you, Mary Beth!

message 31: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary Wonderful review!

Cheri Thanks so much, Kaceey!

Cheri Lizzy, thank you so much. Incredible story, beautifully written, heartbreaking in parts but so worth it! I look forward to reading your thoughts on this!

Cheri Thank you so much, Marialyce. I loved this, too, although it's hard to think of all the pain and heartbreaking moments in this story! Loved your beautiful review, too!

message 35: by Esil (new) - added it

Esil Fabulous review, Cheri. I haven't read this author yet.

Carol I've conjured up memories of this excellent novel through your beautiful review, Cheryl. I was deeply moved by this book.

Dianne Nice review, Cheri!

Cheri Thank you, Esil. I have only recently read her Little Fires Everywhere, which I loved, too. I think you would really enjoy both stories! Glad to see you've added this!

Cheri Thank you, Carol, I love when those memories come sweeping up on you when you think back on them, for me typically when I read a review. An incredibly moving story on many levels.

message 40: by Supratim (new)

Supratim Fantastic review, Cheri!

Cheri Thank you, Dianne!

Cheri Thank you so much, Supratim!

message 43: by Debbie (new) - added it

Debbie Beauteous review, as always, Cheri! Especially like the opening quote you pulled. Makes me want to read this sooner rather than later.

Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin What a wonderful review dear, Cheri ❌⭕️ I want to read it too!

Cheri Thank you, Debbie. I loved this, the story, her writing... just pulled me into her world. I do hope you get a chance to read it sooner than later, I think you'd really enjoy this!

message 46: by Svetlana (new) - added it

Svetlana beautiful review Cheri 💕 I want to read this one and after reading your review, I'm going to bring this up on my tbr. Thanks! X

Cheri Thank you so much, Svetlana. I think you will find this a compelling story that is beautifully written. Glad to see you're moving it up on your TBR!

message 48: by Brina (new)

Brina Have to read next. Looking forward!

Cheri Lucky you, Brina! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

message 50: by Melissa (new) - added it

Melissa What a lovely review, Cheri! And thanks for the reminder that I NEED to find time for this one SOON!

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