Susanne Strong's Reviews > Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
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it was amazing
bookshelves: audiobooks, 2017-five-star-books, favorites

5 Stars.

Have you ever felt invisible? Like you were hiding in plain sight? Or like you just didn't measure up? Like you have to fake it till you make it? For the Lee family, this is par for the course, for each member of the family has felt one or more of these things at one time in their lives, if not for their entire lives.

James and Marilyn Lee are a Chinese-American couple with three children, Nath, Lydia and Hannah. Growing up Chinese in the 50's, James, was an outsider - he longed to fit in. To be like everyone else. To be accepted. Once he became a Professor of American History, he gave up. Then he met Marilyn, a white woman and she treated him no differently than anyone else. He finally felt at home. Marilyn always wanted to become a doctor and was studying to become one when she started dating James, got pregnant and they married. At once, the dreams she had for herself disappeared.

James and Marilyn, poured the hopes and dreams they had for themselves into their the first born daughter (and middle child), Lydia. They decided to live vicariously through her. James wanted Lydia to be the popular one, to have friends and go to school dances. Marilyn wanted Lydia to become a doctor so she bought her textbooks about biology and anatomy as birthday gifts and signed her up for extra classes whenever possible. Lydia was a people pleaser. She smiled expectantly. Said yes whenever her mother asked her a question. She pasted a smile on her face and pretended. Day after day after day. And then one day, when Lydia was sixteen, she was found dead.

Nath, Lydia's older brother was a straight-A student. Admitted to the Harvard class of 1981. Though he was the best student, he never measured up to his father's ideals. He was never enough.. and was always an embarrassment. And Lydia? She always came first, she was always the child his parents sought out first, showed attention to, provided affection to and showed interest in. Nath came second. And while he may have understood how his sister felt about his parents and the attention they showed her, he couldn't help but be jealous.

What about Hannah, you ask? Well, she truly was invisible. Her parents hardly ever noticed her. She was an after thought. Lydia barely addressed her and Nath had no time for her, that is until after Lydia, well, until after.

Everything I Never Told You is the heartbreaking examination and devastating portrayal of a Chinese-American family who are strangers to each other, of parents who never take the time to get to know their children and who let their kids slip away from them, one by one.

Celeste Ng's novel haunts you. Her words are achingly beautiful, and they evoke such emotion. This novel made me angry and sad all at once. Sad that James and Marilyn didn't have any idea who their children were, sad that Lydia couldn't be who she wanted to be, sad that Hannah had no one to show her affection, pay attention to her and let her know what it was like to be loved. Angry. Angry at both Marilyn and James for being so short sighted and selfish. Just so angry that these parents never noticed their own children. It is to Ms. Ng's immense talent that she brought forth these emotions from me. I wanted to shout at Marilyn and James. About how apathetic they were, about how they disgusted me, but alas, I did not.

In case you couldn't tell, I loved this book. I imagine that it will bother me for a long time to come. These characters will haunt me. Especially Hannah. In my dreams, she is no longer invisible. In my dreams, she knows what it feels like to be loved.

A huge thank you to my GR friend Linda who read this a month ago. Your review made me want to read this one. You were right. It was amazing!!

Published on Goodreads and Amazon on 3/12/17.
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Reading Progress

February 9, 2017 – Shelved
February 9, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
March 9, 2017 – Started Reading
March 9, 2017 – Shelved as: audiobooks
March 12, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017-five-star-books
March 12, 2017 – Shelved as: favorites
March 12, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 59 (59 new)


Rachel This is one of my favorites that I read last year!!


Susanne Strong Rachel wrote: "This is one of my favorites that I read last year!!"

Right??!!! So incredible. So heartbreaking. Glad you loved it too!!!


Cathrine ☯️ I loved it also. :)


Susanne Strong Cathrine ☯ wrote: "I loved it also. :)"

Truly astounding. I'm happy to know you liked it too Cathrine!


Sharon Excellent review Susanne. This has been on my radar for a while, but I wasn't very familiar with the plot; I think I may have to bump this up!


Kaceey - Traveling Sister Wonderful review Susanne! I love when a book can touch your heart:)


Brenda - Traveling Sister Excellent review Susanne! So glad you loved this one. I love books that can stir up these kind of emotions. I want to read it soon. How was listening to it? I don't have the book with me at my place where I am now so I was thinking of listening to it.


Susanne Strong Kaceey wrote: "Wonderful review Susanne! I love when a book can touch your heart:)"

Thank you Kaceey This was such a tough one, but gosh, it was so good. :)


Susanne Strong Sharon wrote: "Excellent review Susanne. This has been on my radar for a while, but I wasn't very familiar with the plot; I think I may have to bump this up!"

Oh Sharon!! You should.. it was so very interesting and oh so good, though I admit it was heart-wrenching which I know a lot of people had a hard time with. For me, it just made the book that much better. Such beautiful writing!!


JanB Your review is so nice it makes me want to re-visit the novel :) Good job!


Elyse Walters Passionate review Susanne....it's been awhile since I read this but had a very similar reaction: wrenching AND beautiful. The writing was gorgeous. Thanks sweetie pie


message 12: by Amy | Foxy Blogs (new)

Amy | Foxy Blogs great review ...sounds like a great read. :)


message 13: by Deanna (new) - added it

Deanna Fantastic review, Susanne! I haven't read this one yet but your review makes me want to read it right away! Great review!!


message 14: by Ali (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ali Great review, thank you! Very emotional, and the book sounds great too. One of those "sad but very true".


Angela M Wonderful review, Susanne, haunting for sure.


Lindsay - Traveling Sister Great review Susanne!


Susanne Strong JanB wrote: "Your review is so nice it makes me want to re-visit the novel :) Good job!"

Oh Jan!! Thank you, it's kind of like the best compliment you could possibly pay me!! Lol! :)


Susanne Strong Elyse wrote: "Passionate review Susanne....it's been awhile since I read this but had a very similar reaction: wrenching AND beautiful. The writing was gorgeous. Thanks sweetie pie"

Awh! Thank you Elyse. And yes, such lovely writing, yet such a disturbing story in so many ways. Just gives you heartache.


Susanne Strong Amy (Foxy) wrote: "great review ...sounds like a great read. :)"

Thank you so much Amy!! It was incredible!


Susanne Strong Deanna wrote: "Fantastic review, Susanne! I haven't read this one yet but your review makes me want to read it right away! Great review!!"

Thank you thank you Deanna!!! Let me know if you decide to read it ok??!! I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this one! :-)


Susanne Strong Ali wrote: "Great review, thank you! Very emotional, and the book sounds great too. One of those "sad but very true"."

It was so emotional Ali and yet such amazing writing. I get that it was hard to read for some...yet it was such an extraordinary book. I highly recommend it. Thank you so much!


Susanne Strong Angela M wrote: "Wonderful review, Susanne, haunting for sure."

Thanks Angela! I know you read it and found it to be haunting, yet difficult to read - it was all of those things for sure. :)


Susanne Strong Lindsay wrote: "Great review Susanne!"

Thanks so much Lindsay! I really appreciate it!


message 24: by Marjorie (new)

Marjorie Excellent review. I completely agree.


Linda Susanne, I'm not finished with my coffee but had to check and see if you finished your review...EXCELLENT! WOW, after reading it, I want to go pick up my copy of this book and read it again! I can still visualize little Hannah hiding under the kitchen table... How great is it to share the love of this wonderfully written piece of art! xo


Susanne Strong Marjorie wrote: "Excellent review. I completely agree."

Thanks so much Marjorie! Glad you liked it too even though it was such a haunting story. :)


Susanne Strong Linda wrote: "Susanne, I'm not finished with my coffee but had to check and see if you finished your review...EXCELLENT! WOW, after reading it, I want to go pick up my copy of this book and read it again! I can ..."

Ms. Linda!!! YOU are the reason I picked this one out. I adored YOUR review. And you were right.. this book was spectacular. Incredibly sorrowful and poignant yet so beautiful. Thank you for your thoughts about this one - for I adored it!


message 28: by Lew (new)

Lew Watts Wonderful and passionate review, Susanne.


Taryn Excellent review!!! It brought everything back for me. I remember this book capturing me from the very first line. Love your thoughts about Hannah!


Norma * Traveling Sister Wonderful review, Susanne! I am going to be listening to this one next! So glad to hear that you loved this book! It sounds wonderful! :)


Susanne Strong Lew wrote: "Wonderful and passionate review, Susanne."

Thanks so much Lew!!


Susanne Strong Taryn wrote: "Excellent review!!! It brought everything back for me. I remember this book capturing me from the very first line. Love your thoughts about Hannah!"

Oh Taryn! Thank you! This was such an exceptional novel - so sensational in every way. So glad you felt the same way!!!


Susanne Strong Norma wrote: "Wonderful review, Susanne! I am going to be listening to this one next! So glad to hear that you loved this book! It sounds wonderful! :)"

NORMA!! I cannot wait to hear what you think of this one! I loved the narrator.. she did such a great job. PLEASE let me know what you think! I will be anxiously awaiting your review. :)


message 34: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Gorgeous review, Susanne! I really liked this one too, and your review has made me want to re-read it!!! And am so excited for Ng's new book out this fall!


message 35: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Wonderful review Susanne.


Susanne Strong Sam wrote: "Gorgeous review, Susanne! I really liked this one too, and your review has made me want to re-read it!!! And am so excited for Ng's new book out this fall!"

Sam - thank you - what an incredible compliment!! So glad you loved this one too. :) I went on amazon earlier and looked for info re Ng's next book. It looks amazing! So excited!


Susanne Strong Maureen wrote: "Wonderful review Susanne."

Thank you so much Maureen! :)


Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister Such a beautiful review, Su! I started this one about a year ago but only got a few pages in. I'm not sure why I never went back to it, but I remember it starting with a really powerful intro. I'll have to get back to it! So glad you loved so much <3


message 39: by Rachael (new)

Rachael This is such a lovely, heartfelt review Susanne.


Susanne Strong Kristin (KC) wrote: "Such a beautiful review, Su! I started this one about a year ago but only got a few pages in. I'm not sure why I never went back to it, but I remember it starting with a really powerful intro. I'll..."

Thanks Kristen! The book does start off a little slow, so I can understand having a hard time at first (I had read the sampler and then decided to listen to the audiobook b/c I couldn't fit in another book and was dying to fit it in). Maybe try it if you are looking for something... it really is incredibly compelling and so heart-wrenching!


Susanne Strong Rachael wrote: "This is such a lovely, heartfelt review Susanne."

Thank you so much Rachael, that means so much to me!!


message 42: by Dana (new) - added it

Dana Lovely review, Susanne!


Susanne Strong Dana wrote: "Lovely review, Susanne!"

Thanks Dana, I really appreciate it. :)


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader Such a thoughtful review, Susanne! So grateful I have this one here to read after reading your review!


message 45: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin Clemence What a poignant review, Susanne. Sounds like the novel is one that will stick around awhile. I'm going to have to check it out.


Susanne Strong Jennifer wrote: "Such a thoughtful review, Susanne! So grateful I have this one here to read after reading your review!"


Jennifer! How wonderful that you have this book within your grasp to read! I so want to hear what you think of it as soon as you are done, ok? And if you want to chat about it while reading let me know. I will be looking for your review!!


Susanne Strong Erin wrote: "What a poignant review, Susanne. Sounds like the novel is one that will stick around awhile. I'm going to have to check it out."

Thank you Erin!! I do hope you will read it and will let me know what you think! It was so beautiful and so rich, and it summons such emotion from the readers!! Keep me posted ok?!


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader I will definitely let you know, Susanne!


Carol Great review Susanne!


Susanne Strong Carol wrote: "Great review Susanne!"

Thanks Carol. It's easy to write a review when you truly loved a novel! :)


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