'Everything I Never Told You', Reviewed

7 April 2020

Fully aware of the fact I needed to find something to do with my newly-acquired time, the other day I went on Amazon on the hunt for some new books to try. I came across 'Everything I Never Told You' (by Celeste Ng) and was instantly interested. What instantly drew me in was the fact that it is set in 1970s America, which I feel is an era not really explored in a lot of fiction nowadays. I've become quite accustomed to historical fiction lately, so this felt like it would be right up my street.


"So begins the exquisite novel about a Chinese-American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favourite 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 all into chaos."

I think what makes this novel so fascinating is seeing everything through the eyes of every single family member. Normally, with these types of novels, there is only the perspective of maybe one or two siblings but, in this, you get the perspective of the parents too. This was definitely a unique aspect of the novel that you don't see a lot of. It actually makes the novel, to be honest; hearing the perspective of each parent makes you understand why they are so determined for Lydia to, as the blurb mentions, "fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue". It was also heartbreaking to read about the racial barriers faced by Asian and Asian-American people in the 1970s. It's especially heartbreaking when you remember that the 1970s weren't actually all that long ago.

What I also found super interesting about this particular novel is that Lydia's death wasn't really at the forefront of the plot. The book flashes back to various points, including her parents' first encounter, their lives before getting married and having children, as well as the few months/weeks leading up to Lydia's death. Within this, you also get Lydia's narrative. To be honest, this was super important in getting you to understand her death, because you reach a point where you think you've cracked it, but the real cause of death really does come as a shock. I have not shame in admitting I cried a little reading this, especially upon discovering the cause of Lydia's death, but more so out of shock than anything else.

If you follow my Instagram, you might already be aware of how I felt about this book, but it's hands-down, one of the best books I've ever read. It wasn't a book full of the greatest plot twists or dramatic storylines, it wasn't a major thriller or crime novel, but had me completely hooked from beginning to end. Another thing: it was such an easy read. Considering the number of time jumps and changing perspectives, there was never a point where I was wondering what was going on. All in all, I'd utterly recommend this - I can't really fault it.

Here's the link to buy this book if you fancy giving it a go.

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