Everything I Never Told You is a debut novel by Celeste Ng. It topped site's Best Books of the Year list for The novel is about a mixed-race. Everything I Never Told You book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Lydia is dead. But they don't know this medical-site.info be. An acute portrait of family psychopathology – this debut crime thriller is a surprise choice as site's book of the year, writes Mark Lawson.
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Everything I Never Told You (Penguin Press, ), by Celeste Ng. Best Book of the Year: site • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • Huffington Post • Buzzfeed. A deep, heartfelt portrait of a family." — Alexander Chee, The New York Times Book Review “Lydia is dead. But they don't. download Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng from site's Fiction Books Store. Everyday low prices on a huge range of new releases and classic fiction.
They love one another, but they also get angry, jealous, and confused and take it out on one another. Can you speak to their dynamics? Did you draw on your own childhood? Sibling relationships are fascinating: You have the same parents and grow up alongside each other, yet more often than not, siblings are incredibly different from one another and have incredibly different experiences even within the same family.
It gets even more complicated when one sibling is clearly the favorite in the family. The family constellation can get really skewed when one star shines much brighter than the rest. My own sister is eleven years older than I am. You began writing the book before you had your son. How did becoming a parent affect your approach to your characters and their stories, especially James and Marilyn?
Even before I had children, I often found myself focusing on parents and children in my fiction. Yourrelationship with your parents is maybe the most fundamental and the most powerful, even morethan friendship or romantic love. When I started writing the novel—having never been a parent—I definitely identified morewith the children, especially Lydia. After my son was born, though, I became much more sympatheticto Marilyn and James.
I started to understand how deeply parents want the best for their childrenand how that desire can sometimes blind you to what actually is best. Now I identify with the parents at least as much as I identify with the children. The book is set in Ohio in the s. You grew up in Pennsylvania and Ohio—how did your time there inform the book? Both of the small suburbs I grew up in—first outside Pittsburgh, then outside Cleveland—had a small-town feel.
My first elementary school was tiny, one of those schools where the gym is also the cafeteria and the auditorium, and on my street the neighbor kids all played together. My personal highlights from the book include: After school, she walks to the bus alone and settles into the seat beside him in silence. Lydia has never really had friends, but their parents have never known.
At Lloyd, everyone seemed to be descended from a Pilgrim or a senator or a Rockefeller, but when they did family tree projects in class, he pretended to forget the assignment rather than draw his own complicated diagram. He set himself a curriculum of studying American culture—listening to the radio, reading comics, saving his pocket money for double features, learning the rules of the new board games—in case anyone ever said, Hey, didya hear Red Skelton yesterday?
What had he thought of her? He would never tell her this, would never admit it to himself: He had looked right at her, over and over, as he held forth on Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and John Wayne, but when she came to his office he had not even recognized her.
Hers had been just one of the pale, pretty faces, indistinguishable from the next, and though he would never fully realize it, this was the first reason he came to love her: There is such a somber mood that is perfectly captured throughout the book. The story slowly develops but is never boring. Like trying to piece together the missing pieces of a puzzle. Our main focus throughout the book is the Lee family and the aftermath of their stricken tragedy. Celeste Ng excels once again at make everything fall into place, from the tiniest detail to the bigger plot twists.
And not twists, really, because her books all start with the mystery uncovered in the first sentence: Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
For a second the impossible happens: Hesitating in the doorway, clinging to the jamb. Please, Marilyn thinks. In this word is all she cannot phrase, even to herself. Please come back, please let me start over, please stay. All this and more shines so brightly with Ng's rigorous writing style.
And I personally cannot wait for all her future works. I'm an site Affiliate.
If you're interested in downloading Everything I Never Told You , just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission! Support creators you love. download a Coffee for nat bookspoils with Ko-fi. As I began this book, my mind was a clean slate, with absolutely no preconceived ideas about it, so I was really surprised by it, and stunned by my emotional response to it.
Once I started it, I literally did not move from the couch until I had turned the last page. One of the main topics addressed here is the interracial marriage between a white woman, Marilyn, and an American Chinese man, James, who marry in the late 's, at a time when such an occurrence was very rare.
While this is a huge theme in the story and it is referred to often, I also picked up on the unhappiness I am sure many women like Marilyn felt in this time frame. Marilyn was smart, very smart, and wanted to be a doctor, not a nurse , in a time when this too was very rare. Determined to have her cake and eat it to, she married the man she was in love with and started a family, but her career never materialized as planned. Marilyn eventually accepts her dream is never going to come to fruition and so it is her oldest daughter, Lydia, who must make up for this failing.
So, when Lydia disappears her parents are absolutely destroyed, and long buried feelings of resentment bubble to the surface and expose the cracks in this seemingly well adjusted and happy family.
It is hard to pinpoint who is the saddest character in the story. Lydia of course was a character that really struck a cord with me on a personal level. I know that pressure to live up to expectations you have no way of achieving, no matter how hard you work at it. Sometimes, we are are not born with the talents our parents possess and when you are supposed to live out their dream, failure to measure up is simply unacceptable. Nath's character is hard to relate to at times. He's a guy, so his emotions are often masked in anger and bitterness.
He desperately wants his father to support him and show pride in his son's rather impressive achievements, an area in which James failed utterly. Therefore, when Nath sees himself gaining an edge on Lydia, he turns away from her in hopes of finally getting a nod of approval from his father. Then there is Hannah, the youngest child, who observes the family from afar and sees things more clearly than anyone else, but is often baffled by the actions of her family members.
My heart ached for this poor neglected child who settled for crumbs thrown her way, but was just flat out lost in the shuffle, and perhaps Marilyn resented Hannah too, since Hannah's entry into the world effectively killed Marilyn's last ditch effort to finish school and achieve her career goals.
Then there is Marilyn whose character is both over the top and sad, a woman unfulfilled, terrified of ending up like her mother, while she is trapped in the same role of being a housewife and mom, she becomes so obsessed in her determination to save Lydia from this fate, she creates a toxic family atmosphere that is unhealthy for everyone and it ultimately backfires on her in a most awful, gut wrenching way.
James is just too passive. He never stands up to Marilyn, they never talk about things, he doesn't stand up for his children and I really couldn't understand what Marilyn saw in him. I was not impressed with him in any way until the very end when he appears to have a life altering epiphany that saves them all from total ruin. So, the race issue is of course running in the background because it can't be ignored. The children born into an interracial marriage were thought to have special difficulty finding where they fit in.
It was hard to make friends, to be involved in social activities and a plethora of other issues. James was of course particularly sensitive to race issues, and Nath also took racism to heart, but it is not a topic discussed within the family and Marilyn never makes an issue of it until her daughter disappears. However, I am not convinced in any way that being in an interracial family was at the root of Lydia's issues, but it was easier to place the blame on race than to take a long hard look at themselves.
Outsiders, not knowing the general make up within the family were quick to hypothesize, but ultimately I felt it was more Marilyn's tunnel vision that led Lydia to a pinnacle of supreme agony, she simply couldn't cope with. This story is sad, emotional, but utterly absorbing, and beautifully written.
My heart went out to all the characters in the book, some of whom I felt more keenly for than others, but I still wanted them to come out in tact, even if they will never be completely whole again. The Lee's will soldier on, believing in second chances, and learning from their past mistakes. This is a very thought provoking and compelling read, a cautionary tale, ending with a message of hope and the promise of better days to come.
View all 39 comments. Jun 27, Dianne rated it it was amazing Shelves: Gorgeous, tenderly rendered story about a family tragedy with deep roots. James Lee is an American-born Chinese professor of history, teaching at Middlewood Colleg Gorgeous, tenderly rendered story about a family tragedy with deep roots.
He is married to blonde, blue-eyed Marilyn, who he met when he was a teaching assistant at Harvard and she was a physics major at Radcliffe with dreams of medical school. Marilyn became pregnant and dropped out of school to raise a family with James — Nath, Lydia and Hannah. I am in awe of the craftsmanship of this author in her debut novel.
Ng pulls together the threads of this story masterfully and creates characters that are poignant, memorable and real. The writing is sublime. One of my favorite characters is the quietly observant and neglected youngest child, Hannah: Highly recommend. Kudos to them! View all 22 comments.
Nov 24, Raeleen Lemay rated it really liked it Shelves: I'm mad at myself for waiting so long to pick this up, and I sort of wish I'd read my physical copy rather than listening to the audiobook, but whatever. It was still really great! This is the type of book I feel would be more enjoyable on the page than on audio, but with that being said the audiobook was well done. This is the story of a dysfunctional family dealing with the death of year-old Lydia, the middle child.
You get to see snapshots of each family member's life, in the past and in the present, and it was written so magnificently that each transition was perfectly seamless although in the audiobook I sometimes got confused because I couldn't see the page breaks lol. I can see myself reading this book again in the future, because my perception of the characters changed so much from page to page, so it's the type of book that will change and shed new light with every re-read.
View 1 comment. Find all of my reviews at: What had they missed that they should have seen? What small gesture, forgotten, might have changed everything? They will pick it down to the bones, wondering how this had all gone so wrong, and they will never be sure. The book begins with a dead teenager. Basically this is a family study of the history of Marilyn and James Lee, their marriage, and their children. Bonus for me — my senile brain actually remembered that plot point even though I was on hold for my library copy for umpteen weeks.
Seriously — that racial stereotype has been done to death and needs to just burn in a fiery pit in hell. View all 16 comments. Jan 29, Dorie - Traveling Sister: I listened to this book on audio and this is my first 5 star book of the year although it was written in I have since read Little Fires Everywhere by this author which I loved. I usually write short reviews on audiobooks but this book deserves more.
After I finished I had a terrible urge to call each of my four daughters and ask them if I ever made them feel unappreciated, unloved or pushed to hard to do something. F I listened to this book on audio and this is my first 5 star book of the year although it was written in We start out during a breakfast moment when the family of James Lee, Marilyn, Nath and Hanna notice that their sister Lydia has not come down for breakfast.
After much searching, phone calling, combing the area, the police finally find her body at the bottom of a very nearby lake. Her parents are shocked, they were totally clueless as to their daughters unhappiness, partly because she chose to put on a cloak of normality and happiness for their favor. We then shift to the story being told by each of the family members.
He had received a scholarship to Harvard and his was a lonely time at school, where he was never accepted by this mostly white, economically privileged student body. As a professor of English history he meets Marilyn whom he chooses as his teaching assistant, falls in love with and marries. He is not a bad man, he is not a cruel man, but his "pushing" will add to his chlidren's feeling of not being good enough. He tries to help his children, in his own way, to rise above the prejudice that they are sure to endure.
Marilyn is a Radcliff student who is determined not to end up like her mother, a homemaker, unhappy and racist woman. Marilyn views James as someone exotic and so unlike the other boys that have pursued her.
She gets involved with James and soon they are romantically entwined and believe that they are in love. This is probably the biggest mistake that they make, as their children will never fit into this small, all white town where prejudice is high. Marilyn gets pregnant with Nath and soon accepts her role as homemaker, particularly when another child, Lydia comes along.
At one point in the story Marilyn decides to leave her family and go back to school, that is until she discovers that she is pregnant with their third, unplanned and pretty much unwanted third child.
Lydia is the golden child, beautiful though exotic looking, very bright and in the beginning very social. As Lydia gets to high school she knows that she will never be accepted by this all white student body even though attempts are make to plan trips to the movies, etc. She is constantly under pressure, particularly from her mother, to excel academically and by her father to make friends, try to fit in, etc.
We learn just how desperate she is to first please them and then escape from them. Her only help is her brother Nath whom she tells all of her problems and hurts.
Then Nath is accepted to Harvard and she knows he will soon go away, the thought of being in the home without him as a buffer is more than she can bear. Hannah is such a quiet child, given slight attention by her parents. She accepts any scraps of affection that she gets from her siblings, mother and father. But she sees and hears more than they know. I was left in the end wondering how this family will now survive without Lydia. This book was masterfully written and made me feel so much sadness for the children, even for the parents as they seemed to be so sure that they were doing the right thing for their daughter.
This is a book not to be missed. View all 34 comments. Feb 20, Lindsay - Traveling Sister rated it liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This will stay on my mind for a long time. I feel a mixture of emotions after finishing this. The telling of the story and writing was excellent. The story itself was very intriguing, but very sad. My heart broke for the children in the Lee family. What started out as a 'forbidden' love story between Marilyn and James, ended with a death due to unrealistic expectations pushed too far on a child.
I was frustrated with James and Marilyn thr 3. I was frustrated with James and Marilyn throughout the story for A pushing their separate and very opposite ideals on their daughter, Lydia and B for basically ignoring their other two children, Nath and Hannah. Lydia had no chance of ever living up to either of her parents hopes and dreams for her, let alone both of them. Marilyn and James feel their hopes and encouragement are what is "best" for Lydia, meanwhile, these pressures create endless confusion, stress and suffocation for her.
While the story itself was very frustrating and sad, the writing was really good and kept me fully engaged from the first to last page. Jun 16, Greg rated it it was amazing Shelves: But they don't know this yet.
The blue-eyed 16 year old daughter of an Asian father and a Caucasian has died in the spring of , the year that the summer will be punctuated with gun shots from the Son of Sam. Lydia goes to bed the night before she dies like it's any other night. In the morning she is gone. A couple of days later her body is found in the middle of a lake. This book is about how and why she died.
But more than that it's about the lives of herself, her parents, her Lydia is dead. But more than that it's about the lives of herself, her parents, her older brother and younger sister. Five people who make up a family and live together and all of that stuff, but which as the story begins to slowly move forward and fold back repeatedly onto itself the reader discovers don't really know one another at all.
And it's not a series of shocking revelations but the small day to day details that go unnoticed by people close to one another, all the little details that really make up who and what a person is.
At first this seemed like a fairly straight forward family drama. There's a dead kid, a shattered family. People trying to come to terms with what happened and wanting answers.
It's a fairly common story line in books, right? About a third of the way through though I started to notice the subtle ways that Ng was deftly weaving the stories of these five people, shifting focus fairly often but in a non-jarring and seemingly natural way.
Instead of this being a chapter on one character, putting a hard break between paragraphs to show the reader a shift in perspective was coming she's weave in and out of the characters stories and perspective to create a fairly substantial whole out of what is ultimately five related pieces that should be all part of the same puzzle but don't fit together as neatly as they should or look to at first glance.
I kind of loved this book. It's a little understated and I think it might be easy to miss some of what I really enjoyed about it.
It's not the most ground breaking book story-wise and the big reveals you kind of realize aren't really that big of reveals but are already being partially said by characters not realizing that they are important at the time they say or see things. Someone I know who read this made a comment that it was like The Secret Life of Bees which I never read, or really have any idea what it's about , but unsatisfying because while SLOB brings the orbits of the various characters together, and this book never does this.
Maybe this is true, not having read SLOB , but this book does feel like a reality, where in life sometimes the most important things are never said to one another, where you never get to really know the people who you take for granted even though they are closest to you.
Where there are no big reveals or climatic moments where everything comes to a satisfying end. Which isn't to say this book doesn't have a satisfying end, it does, but it's the necessarily the kind that someone would say has created any sense of closure.
View all 15 comments. This is a dark drama. I did not find much hope in the story.
Maybe others will disagree, but it is a fairly depressing story. It was still a good book, even if my mood grew darker as the story went along.
I think that the overall story was interesting and the relationships in the story are written well. Also, the development along the way is fascinating even if gloomy. There is a lot of poorly defined time jumping, but, while that has bothered me in other books, I was okay with it here. Somehow I This is a dark drama.
Somehow I managed to quickly realign my thought process when I suddenly realized I was elsewhere in the time line.
The time period of this book is the late s. The main reason I am thinking that they did this is that the social opinion at that time on mixed-race marriage and people was not as accepting as it is now.
If this had been written in modern day, a lot of the fear and desperation caused by this would not have been there. I cannot say that I would recommend this book because it is so dark and depressing and I wonder what people might think i. What must he think of me!?? But, if you are interested in stories with serious family drama, this is the book for you.
Jun 26, Pages. 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. Lydia is dead. This is, in the end, a novel about the burden of being the first of your kind—a burden you do not always survive.
There is a mysterious death, a family pulled apart by misunderstanding and grief, a struggle to fit into the norms of society, yet in the weaving of these threads she creates a work of ambitious complexity.
In the end, this novel movingly portrays the burden of difference at a time when difference had no cultural value…Compelling. This could be my favorite novel of the year. With a deft hand, she loads and unpacks the implications of being the only Chinese American family in a small town in Ohio. She tackles the themes of family dynamics, gender and racial stereotyping, and the weight of expectations, all with insight made more powerful through understatement. She has an exact, sophisticated touch with her prose.
The sentences are straightforward. She evokes emotions through devastatingly detailed observations. But it is true to the Lees, and Ng tells all. Louis Post-Dispatch. What compelled you to write this book? My stories almost always begin with images—in this case, the image of a young girl falling into deep water.
I started writing to figure out how she got there: Was she pushed? Did she slip? Did she jump? What seemed like the end of the story actually turned out to be the center.
How did you approach writing about loss and grief? Could you have saved them in some way? Could you, by leaving five minutes later or arriving a day earlier or saying just the right words, have changed what happened? Inevitably, you reconsider and reassess the relationship you had with that person, and it can be hardest if that relationship was strained.
Any act of writing is an act of empathy: I tried to ask myself the questions the characters would have asked themselves. The relationships between the siblings—Nath, Lydia, and Hannah—are immediately recognizable and so well drawn. They love one another, but they also get angry, jealous, and confused and take it out on one another.
Can you speak to their dynamics? Did you draw on your own childhood? Sibling relationships are fascinating: