Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Club: Everything I Never Told You

I had to speed-read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng in order to finish in time for my book club meeting this month. I've had plenty of time for leisure reading lately, but to be perfectly honest I was so wrapped up in Stephen King's The Stand (more on that later) that I eventually had to physically force myself to put it down and open my required book club reading.
In all fairness, Everything I Never Told You was a pretty good book.

"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 middle and favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, who are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they themselves were unable to pursue. 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.

This book is a story of how secrets 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.

Although I enjoyed Ng's writing style and found the story easy to read and follow, I found this book to be book to be a little disturbing and depressing. It was difficult for me to relate to the characters personally, because as a mother I could not understand the favoritism bestowed upon Lydia (which in turn meant that her siblings were neglected and mistreated). I thought this was an extremely unrealistic situation.

I spent most of the book developing an intense dislike for Lydia's parents, as well as pity for their children. I couldn't stand James and Marilyn, and frankly didn't really care what became of them. I did have sympathy for their other two children, Nathan and Hannah. I hoped that they were eventually able to overcome their unfortunate upbringing and cruel, selfish parents. But unfortunately I don't feel I necessarily got closure there.

Ultimately, I must admit that Ng is a talented writer, because she was able to draw such a visceral reaction from me about her characters. Everything I Never Told You was a page-turner until the end, and although I didn't walk away with any warm-fuzzy feelings in the end, it really got me thinking and I enjoyed reading it.
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  1. Glad you read it! I related to the characters since I was raised by immigrant parents like the husband-character so I could relate to him wanting to be far away from that life as possible when he got older (though to the extreme). I could also relate to the wife having to sacrifice her dreams to have a family. Again, she was very extreme in her leaving her family, but hey, I didn't grow up in the 50s, so maybe she had to. What I found the most difficult about this book is that no one talked to each other. It's like somebody freakin speak up about something. That was the most annoying. If only they communicated, what a better life it could have been. I definitely felt sorry for all the kids in each way.

  2. This actually sounds like a fabulous read and if I ever get time to read this will be going on my list. It sounds like a great read to pull me away from my chick lit !!

  3. Always looking for another book to add to my list! Sounds like I'll be adding this one!


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