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.
Everything I Never Told You was as beautifully written and heartbreaking novel, which draws the reader into the Lee family at a truly horrendous time. Their eldest (and seemingly favourite) daughter has gone missing, and her body is later discovered in a lake. From this point on their family unit crumbles under the pressure of such a horrible shock, and under the grief each family member experiences.
We see events from two different timeframes – one is the present day, after Lydia’s disappearance, and one takes us back in time to the events leading up to her death. I was utterly transfixed by Celeste Ng’s writing – like I was with Little Fires Everywhere, but I felt even more emotionally connected to this novel, and to these characters. They feel like well-rounded, real people, but each have their own flaws – no one is perfect, and the story is all the more beautiful for it.
Everything I Never Told You is a novel which strikes just the right level of being both emotional and entertaining, with powerful stories behind the characters and a plot that completely intrigues me. I don’t really want to say much more in this review as I strongy feel everyone should read it and experience it for themselves without any preconceptions or spoilers.
This novel may be centered around the disappearance of Lydia as it’s main plotline, but of course it’s about so much more than this. Highly recommended.