Thursday 4 June 2020

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG Book Review

It's not often I find myself still thinking about a book months on from reading it but for some reason Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG keeps popping into my head and I felt compelled to finally write a review. I've said in a few of my book reviews recently that I only tend to blog about books which I feel really passionate about or that have stirred up emotions in me and this has clearly done that.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG book on top of 4 other books
'Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; 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 centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in the 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting. When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest in the family - Hannah - who observes far more than anyone else realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.'

My Review

As I said in my second reading update of 2020, this book really took me by surprise. I'm usually one to go for specific genres, whether that be thrillers, crime or the opposite end of the scale - romance - but this doesn't fit into any of those. It focuses very much on family dynamics and race so I really wasn't sure what to expect or what I was going to make of it. The people are what make this book though and I found each character fascinating.

Despite the initial shocking opening of 'Lydia is dead', I did find the first quarter or so quite a slow start. I had to really push myself to keep picking it up but I'm so glad I persevered as there seemed to be a moment where it just clicked for me. I think as the family dynamics became clearer and each character was developed and explored more, I found myself really connecting with the story. What becomes obvious as the story progresses, skipping from past to present with ease, the seemingly close-knit family didn't really know each other at all and I was so intrigued with where this was going to lead us.

Lydia's disappearance and death, which is the main focus of the book really resonated with me at times. She was clearly extremely sad at times and felt an immense pressure to live upto her parents expectations. Whether it be academically like her mother wished or socially as her father wished, I imagine a lot of us at times will have been able to relate to that feeling.

It becomes quite clear that Lydia was in someway holding the family together so with her gone, everything shatters and this is when I felt things really picked up the pace, when we saw the impact this had on each person for different reasons. The person I found the most intriguing and the one I enjoyed reading about the most was Marilyn, Lydia's mother who is part of another topic addressed in this book, interracial marriage between a white woman and an American Chinese man in the late 1950s, a time where an occurrence like this was rare. She herself had felt pressures to go along with what is expected of you. She was extremely smart, longed to be a doctor (something else that was also very rare at the the time) but due to getting pregnant unexpectedly, she soon realised she was going to have to give her dream up. I felt for her because she had clearly put her all into Lydia's future instead, she was almost living through her, clearly it was unhealthy to do so but when Lydia is gone, what's left? Where does she go next? It was almost as if her life was over too. Whilst every relationship in the book fascinated me, it was the mother/daughter element that really spoke to me throughout.

Everything I Never Told You is sad at many points throughout, pulls at your heartstrings and makes you question your own relationships and views but is beautifully written. It tackles racism, sexism, family dynamics and much more throughout making it extremely powerful and such an important read. I felt for each of the characters in a number of ways. I almost felt like they were all real! Despite it's slow moments at the start, I feel sad that it's over now and all I want to do is urge everyone to read this. I'm thoroughly excited at the news that this is being made into a film so I'll definitely be seeing that when it's out, I'm really intrigued to see how it works on screen and I'm also really keen to get started on Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste which is another book I've heard amazing things about recently!

Have you read anything by Celeste NG before? What did you think to Everything I Never Told You?

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Kelly~Diane said...

You've written such a great review, it really makes me want to read it. I hadn't heard of the book until now but I'm going to add it to my TBR list.

Riana Ang-Canning said...

I read this book ages ago and honestly can't remember what I thought of it. Which means it's time for a reread! I am also intrigued to see how it plays out on screen and excited to start Little Fires Everywhere, though I want to read the book first!

Heather Nixon said...

I've been meaning to read from this author for a couple of years now x

Sarah Trademark said...

What a great review. ah really want to check this book out xx

Sophie said...

Great review, this book has been on my TBR for so long now. I think it's time to finally read it x


Tiffany Timms said...

Thank you! xx

Tiffany Timms said...

I finally picked up Little Fires Everywhere recently and really enjoyed it.Not as much as this but it's still a great read. Almost finished the TV series now! xx

Tiffany Timms said...

I've really enjoyed both of her books so far xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Thank you! x

Tiffany Timms said...

Thank you! Really hope you enjoy xx

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