Angela M's Reviews > Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
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really liked it

I did not enjoy reading this book. The story of this broken family was just so sad and I found that the more I read, the harder it was to read. I felt a constant knot in my stomach .Yet I gave it four stars.

It’s the 1970's and James of Chinese descent, born in the U.S has since he was a young boy, just wanted to fit in. The racism he experiences through his life follows to present day and to his mixed race children. He focuses his need and desire to fit in on his middle daughter, Lydia. He wants her to be popular and have friends.

His wife Marilyn wants to stand out. She wanted to become a Doctor at a time when it was a man’s world and not easy for women to move into that world. She doesn't succeed and now is transferring her hopes and dreams and expectations on Lydia. Marilyn's lost dream seems like an obsession – she has now made it Lydia's dream, pushing her so hard, reading science books to a little girl instead of bedtime stories. Lydia did what her mother wanted because she didn’t want her mother to leave again as she once did in search of her dream.

What was so difficult was seeing James and Marilyn focus their attentions and their aspirations on their middle daughter Lydia while their oldest son Nath and youngest daughter Hannah suffer in silence - to say nothing of the impact of this attention on Lydia. It is through flashbacks that we learn about James’ and Marilyn’s pasts and how it has affected their children when the story returns to the present day.

While I felt for the parents and what they had gone through, my heart was broken for these children, as they transferred their hopes and dreams on their daughter and hurt all of them. My heart was broken for all of them but especially the youngest child, Hannah who is almost invisible to her family.


But yet, I gave it four stars because Ng has masterfully developed these characters and the story. We learn everything about them - inside and out. We know what they look like and we know how much they hurt, the pain they bear. I gave it four stars also because while I didn’t like the parents very much, I loved the children, and in the end felt that there might be some hope for Nath and Hannah in spite of the tragedy that befalls this family.
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Reading Progress

December 20, 2013 – Shelved
December 20, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
December 18, 2014 – Started Reading
December 20, 2014 –
page 160
52.63% "It's not that this isn't a good story but I'm finding that it is so sad that I can't wait to finish it ."
December 21, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 51 (51 new)


message 1: by Judy (new) - added it

Judy Great review Angela but I think I'm going to pass on this one.


message 2: by Connie (new)

Connie Hutchison Excellent review and very helpful.


Angela M Thanks, Judy and Connie.


Melissa My feelings about the book are very similar.


Angela M Melissa, I thought it was just so sad but yet there was a glimmer of hope.


Tasha Burke-Peart Great review. It was hard to read but so honest.


Angela M Thanks , Tasha. I agree . Heartbreaking , I thought .


Robin I agree with everything you wrote in your review. At times, I felt I wouldn't be able to finish this book. Heartbreaking.


Angela M Robin , thanks . So heartbreaking but none the less a gripping story .


message 10: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Lester I thought Marilyn was incredibly selfish. Instead of trying to find a way to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, she takes off & leaves no word where she is or if she is even alive. Her children break my heart. Lydia & Nath have virtually no say about who they become. Particularly Lydia. Hannah knows she is invisible as she sits under the table. Hannah is the one who will become the person she wants to be.


message 11: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Dang - I downloaded this one to my Kindle...have not read it yet...4 stars thought seems pretty high...I will hold off ...you that "A Little Life" got to me big time - not sure if I can read anything with a broken family yet!


Angela M Sue , it's very good but definitely about a broken family and sad so if you don't think you are ready for this kind of story, you're probably making a wise decision to hold off .


message 13: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Angela - thanks - I appreciate it - literally I've just stayed away from books that are sad for good reason.


message 14: by Colleen (new) - added it

Colleen Sounds intriguing. Yes, I need to give myself a break after too many heavy books.


Angela M Colleen , it's worth reading when you are ready .


message 16: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Great review


Julie Weghorn Great review, I agree with about it being so difficult to read because of the family dynamics. I'm not sure I'll be able to give it 4 stars, but I'm not finished reading yet.


Angela M Thanks , Julie. The four stars was because I thought the characters were so well developed. I'll be interested in how you finally rate it .


Courtney I couldn't have described my feelings about this book better.


Angela M Thanks , Courtney!


Sandy Barry Very painful to read but I'm glad I read it. Also glad I didn't read your review ahead of time lol
I gave it 4 stars.


Angela M Sandy , definitely a tough read . But but I'm glad I read it too .


Dorie  - Traveling Sister :) great review, I don't know if I can read a depressing book right now, maybe some time


Angela M Thanks , Dorie . It's definitely sad and if you aren't ready then as you said maybe another time but maybe not at all .


message 25: by Christine (new)

Christine Wonderful review, Angela. I want to read this. Sounds very emotional, very haunting. You read this over a year ago. Do you still think about it?


Angela M Christine, thanks . It us definitely a story that has stayed with me .


message 27: by Christine (new)

Christine Well, that's the type of book I am always looking for. Thanks, Angela.


Bethann Martin Of all the reviews and comments about this book, this thread most agrees with my feelings about the book. I get frustrated when so o o many characters are selfish and wrapped up in their own desires that they hurt their families, the ones they should love and protect. I was skeptical that as late as the 70s, the same time I grew up, there was still so much racism against Asians. At my school in the early 70's there were only a couple of Asian girls but they were extremely popular. In fact, they were cheerleaders and the stars of our dance club.


Angela M Bethann , thanks for your thoughts. I was really impacted by this book .


message 30: by Mike (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike W I thought it was a very impressive debut novel. Thanks for the review.


Angela M Mike wrote: "I thought it was a very impressive debut novel. Thanks for the review."

Thanks, Mike . I totally agree.


Ashley Nicole Davis yes I definitely agree. Great characters, they are full and the writer left no holes. However it's so hard to listen to. (I'm listening on audio). I just want to scream at their parents. I will probably give it 4 stars. I'm almost done with it.


Angela M Ashley, I don't listen to audio books but I'll bet it's frustrating! I was frustrated with these parents too .


Susanne Strong Great review Angela!


Angela M Thanks, Susanne.


message 36: by Lynn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynn This is exactly how I felt about this book. So hard to read but great character development. Could not stand the parents.


Angela M Me neither !


Cheri Wonderful review, Angela, such a heartbreaking story. While the writing flowed beautifully, it was so hard to read about this family, but I also think this will stay with me for a long time! I completely relate to not being able to say you "enjoyed" a story, I can appreciate the difference.


Angela M Thanks , Cheri . Yes hard to read , it was so heartbreaking. Just read your terrific review.


message 40: by Kristin (new) - added it

Kristin I have this on my TBR list. I really appreciate a reviewer that can look past the characters he/she may not like, to see the talent in an author. I also like the heads up on the sadness of the book; it helps me prepare. Hope to get to this one soon


Angela M Kristin, thanks. I’ll look forward to your thoughts.


message 42: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara I felt exactly as you did about this book. Excellent review.


Angela M Sara, thanks so much .


message 44: by Linda (new)

Linda Angela, thank you so much for this heart wrenching review. I am you in that I love poignant , sometimes saddeningly books but


message 45: by Linda (new)

Linda Sorry I could not finish but I wanted to say that no matter how well written , there are some books that are not for me and this one would be one of those. You identified it with grace and caring in this case .thank you


Angela M Linda, you are so right . Not every book is for everyone. Good for you for not finishing- life’s too short!


Florence SPOILER ALERT I did enjoy reading this book, I thought the descriptions in the writing were superb, especially the characters. I am disappointed by the ending. Are we to believe that Nath and Jack end up as a couple? While we see Jack's attraction to Nath. We do not see anything to suggest Nath is attracted to Jack. Everything else is nicely tied up.


Angela M Florence , I read this over 3 1/2 years ago but I don’t remember giving much thought to Nath and Jack - maybe I just don’t remember.


Alyson Morrissey Florence, I wondered the same thing. It sure seemed that it foreshadowed Nath and Jack as a couple though.


Leiannasaur this is exactly how i felt. i am really sad, and have been so genuinely sad throughout reading it because it’s just so real. but God was it well written.

still sad though, was really expecting a thriller and i need to process all the emotional baggage i have


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