Book Reviews

Book Review: Everything I never told you

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins the debut novel, Everything I never told you, by Celeste Ng. Sixteen-year-old Lydia is the middle child of Marilyn and James Lee. She is also their favourite as both her parents hope she will be able to fulfil their dreams. Her mother wants Lydia to become a doctor instead of a homemaker like her, while her father wants Lydia to be popular at school in a way he never was due to his race. But being mixed race in 1970s small-town Ohio is not easy for teenager and along with family expectations, it adds to pressures in Lydia’s life.

Following her death, her father James goes on a self-destructive path of coping while her mother Marilyn wants answers and wants someone accountable. Her older brother, Nathan who is about to head off to college, knows her better than her parents but thinks bad boy Jack may have something to do with Lydia’s death. Then there’s Hannah, her younger sister. Always the quiet one, she has noticed more than everyone else realises. As they reflect separately on the past, trying to make sense of Lydia’s death, they may uncover uncomfortable truths to figure out what really happened.

This is a beautifully written book exploring issues of race, ethnicity, gender and adolescence. James and the children all struggle with their race and standing out in predominantly white Ohio. Marilyn on the other hand, has had her own struggles of studying medicine at a time when women were expected to become homemakers. Their struggles in an inter-racial relationship, bringing up children with their own dreams in mind and dealing with a changing world evoke empathy from the reader.

For me, it hit close to home in terms of race, gender and adolescence. I was able to identify with almost all characters — James and his issues with race and acceptance, Marilyn and her fight for equality based on gender, Lydia’s and Nathan’s struggles with adolescence and parental expectations — it was all too familiar. It is a sad book but beautifully written. Ng keeps the reader hooked till the very last page. And when you finish, like me, you might have tears in your eyes and a heaviness in your heart.

It’s a book that will stay with you for a long time.

My rating:

***Linking with Alicia for Open Slather and Kirsty for I must confess. You can follow my reading challenges on Goodreads***

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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  • Amy @ HandbagMafia
    4 April 2016 at 6:34 am

    Sounds like a great story- pinning this for later as well!

  • Amy @ HandbagMafia
    4 April 2016 at 6:34 am

    Sounds like a great story- pinning this for later as well!

  • Emily Toxward
    4 April 2016 at 7:32 am

    I agree with Amy, it does sound like something I’d like to read, I’ve got a flight on Thurs might try and see if it’s there!
    Emily Toxward recently posted…7 greeting cards Hallmark should make.My Profile

  • Emily Toxward
    4 April 2016 at 7:32 am

    I agree with Amy, it does sound like something I’d like to read, I’ve got a flight on Thurs might try and see if it’s there!
    Emily Toxward recently posted…7 greeting cards Hallmark should make.My Profile

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connection
    4 April 2016 at 8:14 am

    5 stars, sounds like a book I need to read. I am in the book pin with Amy so it will stay on the list.
    Natalie @ Our Parallel Connection recently posted…Natural skin care – Australian Pure BeautyMy Profile

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connection
    4 April 2016 at 8:14 am

    5 stars, sounds like a book I need to read. I am in the book pin with Amy so it will stay on the list.
    Natalie @ Our Parallel Connection recently posted…Natural skin care – Australian Pure BeautyMy Profile

  • Raychael Case
    4 April 2016 at 10:45 am

    Sounds intriguing and a book I might need to add to my must read list this year.
    Raychael Case recently posted…Unleashing My Inner Geek | Oz Comic-ConMy Profile

  • Raychael Case
    4 April 2016 at 10:45 am

    Sounds intriguing and a book I might need to add to my must read list this year.
    Raychael Case recently posted…Unleashing My Inner Geek | Oz Comic-ConMy Profile

  • Deborah
    4 April 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I haven’t actually read this book Sanch but it’s been on my radar. It sounds great though and I’m glad you were able to identify with some elements.
    Deborah recently posted…The day I forgot to go homeMy Profile

  • Deborah
    4 April 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I haven’t actually read this book Sanch but it’s been on my radar. It sounds great though and I’m glad you were able to identify with some elements.
    Deborah recently posted…The day I forgot to go homeMy Profile

  • Trish
    4 April 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I am interested in this now. I just joined Good reads too.
    Trish recently posted…Below the lineMy Profile

  • Trish
    4 April 2016 at 3:31 pm

    I am interested in this now. I just joined Good reads too.
    Trish recently posted…Below the lineMy Profile

  • Lata Sunil
    4 April 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful read.. I love family sagas. The cover is beautiful

  • Lata Sunil
    4 April 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful read.. I love family sagas. The cover is beautiful

  • Beat About the Book
    4 April 2016 at 8:20 pm

    I’m wary if sad books but this one sounds’s intriguing. The issues it tackles seem interesting.
    Beat About the Book recently posted…The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – A ReviewMy Profile

  • Beat About the Book
    4 April 2016 at 8:20 pm

    I’m wary if sad books but this one sounds’s intriguing. The issues it tackles seem interesting.
    Beat About the Book recently posted…The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – A ReviewMy Profile

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths
    4 April 2016 at 8:52 pm

    I’ll be honest – this is not something I would read but it’s always good to find a book where you can identify with multiple characters on various levels.
    Kirsty @ My Home Truths recently posted…I must confess…the day I forgot to write my confessionMy Profile

  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths
    4 April 2016 at 8:52 pm

    I’ll be honest – this is not something I would read but it’s always good to find a book where you can identify with multiple characters on various levels.
    Kirsty @ My Home Truths recently posted…I must confess…the day I forgot to write my confessionMy Profile

  • alicia - One Mother Hen
    4 April 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I wish I was an avid reader, but alas, I am not. I go through phases of wanting to read novels, which I have not had for a long time. It will return one of these days. This sounds like a really good book, although sad.
    alicia – One Mother Hen recently posted…Easter Saturday at CanundaMy Profile

  • alicia - One Mother Hen
    4 April 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I wish I was an avid reader, but alas, I am not. I go through phases of wanting to read novels, which I have not had for a long time. It will return one of these days. This sounds like a really good book, although sad.
    alicia – One Mother Hen recently posted…Easter Saturday at CanundaMy Profile

  • Janet aka Middle Aged Mama
    4 April 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Yup reserving this one at the library. I loved “The Lovely Bones” book (but not the movie) so if it’s anything like that it’ll be good 🙂
    Janet aka Middle Aged Mama recently posted…Crazy Cat Lady Bloggers of AustraliaMy Profile

  • Janet aka Middle Aged Mama
    4 April 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Yup reserving this one at the library. I loved “The Lovely Bones” book (but not the movie) so if it’s anything like that it’ll be good 🙂
    Janet aka Middle Aged Mama recently posted…Crazy Cat Lady Bloggers of AustraliaMy Profile

  • texerinsydney
    5 April 2016 at 11:42 am

    I completely agree with this: “This is a beautifully written book exploring issues of race, ethnicity, gender and adolescence.”, but I have to add one more prevalent theme that I got out of the book was communication (or rather, the impact of a LACK of communication between family members).

  • texerinsydney
    5 April 2016 at 11:42 am

    I completely agree with this: “This is a beautifully written book exploring issues of race, ethnicity, gender and adolescence.”, but I have to add one more prevalent theme that I got out of the book was communication (or rather, the impact of a LACK of communication between family members).

  • Tory
    5 April 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Wow will have to add this one to the to read list! Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

  • Tory
    5 April 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Wow will have to add this one to the to read list! Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

  • peregrinationgourmande
    11 April 2016 at 3:41 am

    It seems like a very deep story. Love your books review. thanks for sharing
    xx cathy

  • peregrinationgourmande
    11 April 2016 at 3:41 am

    It seems like a very deep story. Love your books review. thanks for sharing
    xx cathy

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    29 January 2018 at 9:09 am

    […] loved Ng’s previous novel, it was a no-brainer for me to pick up her latest offering and she didn’t disappoint. Her […]