Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You
Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You

Genre: Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads): Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

Review: I picked up this book solely because it had shown up in the top 10 on a booklist that I follow on Goodreads.  I figured that if so many women my age were reading it, I should try it, too.  And it was the kind of book that I would normally enjoy - a quiet and contemplative look at the difficulties of family dynamics, exacerbated by the unrealistic expectations that the parents have for their oldest daughter.  James, the son of a Chinese gardener, was sent to a private school on a full scholarship, but always longed to fit in among his snobbish peers.  Marilyn, an intelligent woman who chose to get married and have a child rather than pursue a medical degree, always wanted her daughter to have the opportunities that she missed out on.  Unfortunately, Lydia isn't interested in going along with her parents' expectations, and tries to find out how to stand up for herself.  There is very little communication going on within the family, but the author gets inside each character's head so that the reader can empathize with them.  Tragic and poignant.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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