Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You

by Celeste Ng
3.8 84

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Everything I Never Told You: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
bluekaren More than 1 year ago
Everything I Never Told You is a book about race, death, love, lies, prejudice, academia, and family. This might have had the best first line of any book I have read this year: “Lydia is dead, but they don’t know this yet.” Lydia is the middle child, the favorite child. Her death throws the delicate balance of this mixed race family living in 1970s in Ohio, into a quandary. They must face the things that have been driving them apart. I have to admit that this book is something I might not have chosen for myself to read. I missed all the hype about it and only learned about it on Goodreads, as it was the latest pick in the Ford Audiobook Club. This book has been featured in a lot of places. It made the list of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year so far 2014. Being a debut novel, this is really impressive. Now that I have read the book, I can see why. This book is so well written. The characters each have a story to tell, secrets to reveal and surprises in their tales for the reader. The time period, 1970s, was such a good choice for this novel. Being part of a mixed race family, (Chinese-American), in a time when mixed couples were being arrested, was very bold. The mother, Madelyn, is white. She wanted to be a doctor in a era when women did not become doctors. She became pregnant early in her academia and then had to settle for being a stay-at-home-mom. James, the father, is a Chinese childhood immigrant. James teaches American History at a college in Ohio. There is a bit of irony there, since all James wants is to fit in as an American. Their relationship is so strained. They bond because they both know what it is like to be different. They both have unfulfilled dreams. Lydia is the child that mixes both races. She is the one they project all of their aspirations on. A blue eyed Chinese girl, pretty and smart enough to make all of her parent’s dreams come true. Lydia is a bundle angst. Her deepest wish to please her mother and father, both in their own ways, leaves her a shell. There is a big brother, Nath, and a little sister, Hannah. They each have interesting stories that are revealed in this book as well. Reading this book, I couldn’t help feeling like I was peeling back layers to reveal the people in this family as they really are. In the midst of the investigation into how Lydia ended up in the water, this family is made to face their deepest feelings for each other. The feelings missing and the ones they don’t want to admit to. By the time we get into learning about the real Lydia, we can see why she could never have lived up to the challenge her parents set before her. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to be moved by a story. The author’s descriptive style was such a delight to get immersed in. I could see, feel, hear, and touch the narrative. The style of writing is the best I have read all year. The subject and revelations were brutal and hard to digest. Just like real life there was much more than meets the eye to these characters, and this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have no idea why this book would get bad reviews on Barnes and Noble. I chose to read this story after discovering that it had been named Amazon's Best Book of 2014 and it had a four star rating on Amazon. I am glad I read it. From beginning to end, this novel captured me. It is a raw and gripping account of a tragic story that we can all learn from. Do not be fooled by poor reviews on BN... this is a very good story that will entrap you from the beginning and will not let you down in the end.
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
One of three children born to interracial parents, Lydia was clearly the favorite. She was obedient, disciplined, talented, and never caused her parents to worry. When she goes missing and is subsequently found dead, it goes without saying that her parents were truly shocked. It is upon her disappearance that Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng begins, and what follows is a stunning portrait of family obligation, sibling rivalry, marriage, growing up, and societal norms. In the wake of Lydia’s death, each member of her family copes differently. Her mom laments the loss of Lydia’s future while regretting her own decisions, her dad seeks solace in unlikely places, and her brother struggles with what he knows about the neighborhood bad boy. Only Lydia’s younger sister has the presence of mind to see the facts for what they really are, but her role in the family prevents her from being outspoken about it. As each member of the family orbits around each other (and not discussing what they know), they give the reader a glimpse into a life that is less picture-perfect than it seems at first. Although Everything I Never Told You is centered around Lydia’s death, it is ultimately a complex story that incorporates racial tensions, academic pressures, and a precarious family dynamic based on regret and hope. Each family member is harboring secrets and battling inner demons, culminating in a story that is both poignant and realistic. If you’re looking for a book that could easily mirror reality in the late 1970′s, then this is the one for you. Allison @ The Book Wheel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt like I was walking in all of the characters' shoes, that's how clearly the author described their conflicts and emotions. I definitely had trouble putting it down...I HAD to know why Lydia was dead.
NissaLD More than 1 year ago
Everything I Never Told You goes to the top of the list of the best books I read this year. It had from the blurb to the very end. I couldn't/wouldn't put it down, no matter how tired I was, I need to know what happened to Lydia. Everything I Never Told You is about a family who entire life changed the moment Lydia, the middle child, didn't come down for breakfast. We get flashbacks on how James and Marilyn Lee met; we learn about their background and the decisions they made that contributed to Lydia's death.  In the beginning, as the story became to unfold, I felt sorry for Lydia, but by the end, I was conflicted on how I feel about her. On one hand I feel bad for her, having to live the dreams of her parents; then on the other hand, from being so spoiled and having her way she treated her siblings like pieces of crap, especially Nath. I felt so sorry for Nath and Hannah, definitely Hannah who wasn't even noticed by her family. To me, when the parents actually showed any attention to Nath, Lydia would do or say something to get the attention back to her, even though she supposedly hates it. Don't get me started on James and Marilyn, I can't fathom why they're parents. The fact Marilyn forgot all about Hannah is unbelievable. I guess I can kind of see why Marilyn dotted on Lydia, but for the life of me James reason is hard to. Their marriage was one big "What in the world?"  I have to say one of my favorite character's besides Hannah, is Jack, oh I liked him from the beginning, there was something about him that was likable. But once the book goes to a certain part, I was like, "Yes, OMG, yes, I completely understand now. I love this book and could re read over and over again.
kimberlyhcampbell More than 1 year ago
Great read on so many levels, incredibly well written and layers of complexity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Felt like I was reading a Lifetime movie.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
I found this story to be sad and truthful. Sometimes parents don't realize the pressure they put on their kids until its too late, sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though you empathize with every character and shudder at their mistakes, you learn what underlying agendas can do to a family without it even being aware of these pressures. Very well-thought out and developed. I would read again!
leaninglights More than 1 year ago
Finding a place to start when you read a book that feels so personal, so poignant, so beautiful... it's hard to do. As I sit here at my computer contemplating the last 24 hours in which I read Everything I Never Told You, I feel a bit dumbfounded. How do I describe something that feels indescribable? Ultimately I will try my best, but I just want you to know, this is hard to for me to do and I certainly won't do the book justice. The first thing you should know about my review of this book is that it's personal. The main characters in this novel are Asian-Americans living in a quaint All-American community in Middle-of-America Ohio. The Lee family comprises our main characters: including the two parents and three children. From the synopsis and the very first sentence of the book, it is no spoiler that Lydia, the middle child, is dead. Her death, in combination with a long series of miscommunications and years of withholding, creates a cluster of chaos for the Lees, and we see each of them dealing with the loss and life-altering change.  We span several decades, starting with the parents, Marilyn and James, as children and growing up in their respective homes in the 1940s and 50s. We then see their meeting in college and course of events that lead them to marriage, three children and Ohio. The storyline jumps around between the five main characters, Lydia included, from present to varying past points in each of their lives. We learn about secrets they are keeping, the misunderstandings and prideful omissions that are quintessential, albeit intensified for the sake of story-telling, in any family. While the plot of the book is seemingly simple, I found it to be complex and infinitely interesting, how it wove in and out of each character's life and how the author chose to move the timeline. I was not wanting for more or feeling bogged down at any point in the book and the flow of the writing felt easy and effortless. Everything I Never Told You is a brilliant example of "less is more," when it comes to writing style and narrative. I found Ng's writing to be refreshingly simple, in the best way, void of any pretentious sentiments or the classic "trying to hard" syndrome books can easily fall victim to -- her writing was fluid and purposeful, each sentence needing to be there. The characters in this book were very real to me -- I personally related to their journey as a mixed-race minority in America, though I did not grow up in the 1950s-1970s, I certainly understand looking around and not seeing yourself in anyone. Being the only one at school who is different. Feeling like you never quite fit in, despite successful grades and the illusion you give outwardly to hide your lack of belonging. These aspects of the story rang true for me and I was so touched to feel like I saw a part of myself in this book. It is a very rare and unique thing for myself and I truly embraced the experience. Each member of the Lee family had at least one aspects of their personality I could relate to -- whether it was James and his desire to achieve more than his parents, or Marilyn and her determination to rise above expectations. Nath's quiet and unseen brilliance or Lydia's desperate need to please. Even little Hannah and her ability to go unnoticed. While I was angry at all members of the family at certain points, I loved them all and felt like I knew them. They each had struggles seen and unseen, and their need to put on a brave face and hide from the world is something I think most people know all too well. This book evokes the need for a multitude of discussions: diversity in books, racism, feminism, tradition, human sexuality and expectations on children. Each conversation warrants it's own post, so for sake of time and sanity, I will refrain from doing that here. But what is important about this book is that in less than 300 pages it addresses each of this topics in a variety of ways. Beautifully written and perfectly executed, I know for a fact that Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng will go down as one of my favorite books of all time. 5 brilliant stars!
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
This is my first audio book, and I found myself liking it a bit too much. Perhaps it was her soothing voice, perhaps it was just being read to again but I found myself falling asleep a few times. I told myself I was not going to multitask while listening because I knew I might find myself not listening/paying attention and I really wanted the full experience. That being said, I am hooked! Listening to a book on tape is so different from reading the text myself, as I felt the reader threw her own emotions out there for me as she read. I felt either I could validate them myself or go against them. When she spoke, I was either going to feel the same emotions or not, did I feel the hostility/adoration among the characters in the same manner as she did? It was so interesting to sit back and think about this as she read to me. I never really thought about this before, but what a huge influence this reader was having on others. I applied this thought to when I read to others; when I raise and lower the pitch of my voice, emphasizing and drawing out words, I am actually influencing them more than I thought. I guess I should stop and ask them if they feel the same emotion, it just might be an eye-opener. So why did Lydia go out into the lake by herself? To take a rowboat out at night, into the lake where her body would breathe its last breath, just didn’t make any sense to anyone who knew Lydia. This heartbreaking event crushes her family, leaving her parents searching for answers. Beginning the book with this tragic event, I have just read what happens towards the end of the book. The author quickly turns back time so we can get a true picture of the whole family before the event occurred. Starting before their mixed marriage, we discover the issues the parents had before tying the knot. Mother had high hopes for her life, a professional career, which was the furthest thing from her mother’s mind. Love got in the way though and then life got busy. I liked the pacing of the book, as time moves quickly yet it slows when the important things in life occurred within the family. Every member of the family is highlighted, all their lives are important as we observe The Lee family. For somewhere within this household lies the clues that lead Lydia to take the boat out that evening, the evening that added another chapter to The Lee household. Thank you Ford Audiobook Club for the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good writer. Nowadays we all accept each other . Thank goodness .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Our book club chose Ng's book for our June meeting.  I just completed it and cried through the last pages.  A book rarely touches me so deeply  that I actually shed tears, but this is an exceptional  piece of writing.  The characters are realistic, the story is poignant, and the writing. . . well. . . a work of perfection.  The story is a mystery, but not in the usual sense.  It deals with the mystery of a girl's death, but the mystery is deeper, much deeper, than how she died.  This book will linger in my mind for years to come. 
semcdwes More than 1 year ago
<b>Everything I Never Told You</b> by Celeste Ng 5 Stars Secrets can kill. Not just the big ones, but the little ones that we live with everyday. They have a way of dragging you down like a weight, and if you can't let them go they will pull you to the bottom until you no longer have the ability escape. This book is a story of secrets. Marilyn can't escape her dissatisfaction with how her life turned out, James longs to be just like everyone else and not the perpetual outsider, Nath just wants to escape, Hannah craves love and affection but has learned that invisibility is her lot in life, and Lydia is searching for freedom from all the expectations and the suffocating love her parents have placed on her young shoulders. These are the secrets that haunt the Lee family, the secrets that Lydia can't escape, because Lydia is dead. I absolutely love this book, though I found it incredibly difficult to read from an emotional stand point. I know that not everyone will be able to understand this book. Some people are lucky enough to grow up in families that are close, loving, and able to communicate their feelings. These are the families that don't harbor secret pains and disappointments. The Lee family is not one of those families. Neither was mine. I related to this story on a visceral level. The feeling you are the perpetual outsider, the desire to escape, being suffocated under unrealistic expectations are all familiar to me. I still struggle with these emotions daily, only now I get to add a struggle with my life not turning out as I planned to the mix. My family's secrets turned out much the same way, though instead of killing her at 16, my sister's secrets killed her at 40. As I said, this book was all to relatable. The language of the book was straightforward, though the story jumped back and forth in time, slowly teasing out the story, revealing bit by bit the events that brought the Lee family to this point. I fully appreciated this use of style. Had it been written in a linear timeline the impact and suspense would have been lessened. The style also added to the character development, knowing how each member of the Lee family came to to be the person they were added to their depth and realism.  Though not everyone will be able to appreciate this book in the same fashion as I do, I still recommend it without reserve. It is a moving and suspenseful portrait of a family and well deserving of all the attention it has received.
olywasue More than 1 year ago
A less than mediocre accounting, successfully marketed into the mainstream.  Extra large heapings of guilt and misunderstandings throughout the book do not evoke any interest for this reader.  It is tiresome treacle; a soap  opera as novel.
mel-in-tex More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written story about a very sad, regret-filled family. The plot was very depressing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In any family, there are bargains, expectations, alliances, often unspoken, which drive relationships. This novel explores a family whose complete failure at communication impacts each member in a myriad of ways. The ghostly ties that bind the parents and children in the story create a web of love and tragedy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and also bought a copy for my DIL.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Seemed like the least I could do after thoroughly enjoying this book. Well written and at times painfully real, this book gave words to feelings I've never known quite how to articulate myself.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Loved it! Could not put it down!! Love Celeste Ng, her writing flows like poetry. Her characters are so real, you are there with them and feel their pain, anger, love, disappointments, I cried for them and miss every single one in the Lee family. Highly recommend that everyone read this fabulous book. Also recommend Little Fires Everywhere, another treasure of a book. Can't wait for her next book! Celeste Ng is my absolute favorite new author!!
Anonymous 4 months ago
I was hesitant to read this because of thhe moxed reviews but im so glad i did. The story and writing were hauntingly beautiful. I am a picky reader and often feel bored by what is out there to read. Every once in a while i find a book that i can't put down. This was one of them and will stay with me for a while. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous 9 months ago
*I'm Pregnant *I cant stand you * U suck at kissing Be honest!
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous 10 months ago
This is a difficult book to put down. Characters are so well developed that one would recognize them.
Anonymous 12 months ago
This book will rip you apart!
Anonymous 12 months ago
Depressing story about a mother who didn't forfill her own dreams and forced them on her daughter. Felt sorry for