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 favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
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. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.
Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star
Another great read from a debut author. Everything I Never Told You had me captivated from the beginning despite being based on a story that I felt I may have heard before. The author took what could have been just an ordinary story and made it into something very unique.
This story goes back and forth between the past and present, ultimately using the stories in the past to explain the terrible thing that has happened in the present day. I found it very interesting to see how the characters evolved over time due to circumstance and found it quite astonishing to see just how much they had changed from their original feelings and desires.
The story was not a happy one by any means but one that will stick in my mind and heart for a long time to come. It is quite sad how stress and pressure can have such a devastating and lasting impact on a family. Being a mother, that fact alone was a real eye opener for me.
This book was a stand out experience for many reasons but mostly because of the extremely painful moments that were so beautifully described by this extremely talented author. I could not fathom some of the experiences they had to endure as a Chinese American family and felt like Ng was just brilliant at describing them.
Everything I Never Told You swept me along and did not disappoint and kept my heart breaking over and over with each new revelation. A definite must read of this year.
Thank you to Penguin Canada for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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