Source: Personal Copy
Everything I Never Told You is a heartbreaking and heavy story that will capture your attention and keeping you reading. The story opens with readers learning that Lydia is dead, and no one knows it yet. We soon learn about the parent’s: James and Marilyn. James Lee is an American-born Chinese professor who always felt left out. In his school he was the only Chinese boy, deeply embarrassed that his parents worked at his school. His wife Marilyn, blue-eyed and blond was the first girl who paid him any attention. She was a student, and him a professor at the time. Marilyn was a star student, who dreamed of medical school, a young woman who was determined not to become her mother- a housewife. When Marilyn became pregnant, and married James, she dropped out of school to raise her family. Before she knew it, Marilyn had two children, and school didn’t seem like an option anymore. She put all her hopes in dreams into her daughter Lydia, who secretly couldn’t keep up. Nath reminded James too much of himself, and Hannah was the forgotten child
Lack of communication is the heart of this story. Unknowingly, the parents don’t realize that their insecurities shape and mold their children. Lydia pretends to talk to friends on the phone because her father wants her to be popular. Nath wants to get into Harvard because he wants his father’s approval; Hannah just tries to stay out of everyone’s way.
Everything I Never Told You opens up with Lydia’s death and from there moves forward and backwards through time, giving readers a sense of the world and unhappy lifestyle that each character is living. James and Marilyn were never able to let go of the past, they couldn’t appreciate what was in front of them. Learning that Lydia was the favorite child was so hard for me to understand. Lydia really was set up to fail, and her parents had no clue. Honestly, the three children were set up to fail.
I highly recommend this one. The characters are so well developed and complex. It’s amazing that this is Celeste Ng’s debut novel. I can’t wait for more. I couldn’t wait to review this one, but at the same time I wanted to take some time. The characters are not likable, you’ll want to scream at them and ask them how they live like this. The core of the story is what will stay with you, and keep you interested