Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You

A Novel

Book - 2015
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"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet. So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue-in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James's case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party. When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest of the family-Hannah-who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, 'Everything I Never Told You' is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another."--Publisher.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books/Penguin Press, 2015, c2014.
ISBN: 9781594205712
Characteristics: 297 p. ; 22 cm.


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TSCPL_Miranda Aug 05, 2018

A powerful, painful exploration of identity, belonging, and family. I'm so glad that I read this book, though I felt real pain for every character in the book. A sunlit ending, lovely poetic prose, and a memorable story.

Jun 23, 2018

This little book deals with a lot of different issues: love, frustration, family and career, the effects of parental good will on children, sibling relations, race and belonging.
One or the other may remind you of your own upbringing.
Good book.

Jun 04, 2018

I came to this book after reading 'Little Fires Everywhere', which I have to admit liking better. Everything I Never Told You is a well written book about the pressures put upon children by their parents, particularly when it stems from a parent's feelings of their own inadequacies. I can't say I found it to be the most scintillating or captivating book, but it's a decent read.

Mar 27, 2018

Extremely good book - should be read by all parents as the premise is putting your expectations and dreams on the shoulders of your children. The pressure is so unfair for the child who is not able to have their own dreams. Add to this the fact that the parents were in a mixed race marriage during the 60's and 70's which added pressure to the upbringing of their children and to the marriage. Sad but beautiful story.

OCBookFairy Mar 21, 2018

One of my all-time favorite novels. This book focuses on one family, and the character development, prose, and storyline make it worthwhile. Celestial Ng iso my favorite author, and though I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere more than this one, Everything I Never Told You is a close second. I highly recommend this, and if you know me, you've heard this a million times already!

Jan 24, 2018

This was a quick read. Compelling storyline, complex characters, interesting time period. I thought the ending was a bit quick, but overall a excellent book, well worth the read. A fine and talented writer.

Jcheng1234 Oct 23, 2017

A sad and touching story. The pain and loneliness of the characters weighed heavily on me even after I finished reading the book. The atmosphere feels so gray and suffocating. Interracial marriage in a small town in the 60s was hard. Expectations of parents on children to fulfill their own dreams, being different and not able to fit in were even harder, especially for a teenager in a dysfunctional family. How could things get so wrong? It was sad that the parents knew so little about their children, what they were thinking or going through in life. The book is well written and for sure I am going to read Celeste Ng’s next book “Little Fires Everywhere.”

Oct 18, 2017

Easy-to-read compelling mystery. Provides a touching look at the weight of parental expectations and an intimate portrait of a dysfunctional family. Celeste Ng has an uncanny ability to do justice to all sides of a story.

Sep 20, 2017

Reviewer(s) please refrain from giving away pertinent details of the story.

Sep 10, 2017

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is a compelling story of a Chinese-American family grieving over the death of their daughter, Lydia Lee, who held all the dreams that her parents dropped on her shoulders. This book switches between the past and present lives of the Lee family, as if showing what they are now versus what they were before Lydia’s death. If I had to be honest, I didn’t find this book to be particularly interesting in the beginning or near the middle, and found that the author’s style of writing wasn’t strong enough to write the tragedies that the family was going through. But later, I realized that Ng’s writing actually supported the idea of the story, which was to show the simplicity of life and reality; Lydia was Marilyn and James’s most beloved child, and was expected to be the person that they could never be, and Lydia went along with it. Ng’s writing style didn’t over-dramatize Lydia’s thoughts or the situations in the book, but simply described everything to show that reality isn’t really this complicated; we make it complicated. I rate this 3/5 stars. I recommend this book for ages 13 and up.
- @ilovefood of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

A no-name American town faces the death of a young Asian girl, the book is mainly how the immigrant family copes with the loss. And how their carefully built facade crumbles away in the wake of mourning, this book focuses on each individual of the family's personal life. The oldest brother always feeling inadequate when his parents compare him to his seemingly perfect younger sister. The youngest sibling is practically invisible, the dad just wants the perfect world he never got when he was younger, and the mother regrets that she never got to pursue her dreams because she got pregnant. And the world is full of fake smiles for the murdered middle perfect child.
- @Florence of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

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ellensix Jun 05, 2017

All their lives Nath had understood, better than anyone, the lexicon of their family, the things they could never truly explain to outsiders: that a book or a dress meant more than something to read or something to wear; that attention came with expectations that-- like snow-- drifted and settled and crushed you with their weight.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

What made something precious? Losing it and finding it.

Nov 05, 2015

“The famous women had bored her. Their stories were all the same: told they couldn’t; decided to anyway. Because they really wanted to, she wondered, or because they were told not to?”

Sep 14, 2015

Don’t ever smile if you don’t want to.

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brihawkins13 Mar 23, 2018

brihawkins13 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Nov 07, 2015

akzfineart thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

CrypticMidnightShadow thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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siammarino Jan 15, 2015

The apparent suicide of their daughter Lydia threatens to tear the Lee family apart. As Chinese Americans in a small Ohio town, they already feel marginalized. This is a great novel about minorities, prejudice, and parenting mistakes. Never force your child into the career you wished you had pursued!!


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Sexual Content: Read with caution. Not suitable for kids AT ALL

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