Wowza, what a fabulous book this was. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is one of those stories that sticks with you for awhile — coming back into your thoughts as you read another book that doesn’t quite measure up, or remembering a particularly poignant image that snakes back into your dreams a few weeks later. And I’m not the first (and certainly not the last!) to sing this book’s praises. According to the front cover, it’s a “notable book of the year” according to the New York Times Book Review, which is (I can only assume) no small feat if the publisher is going to the expense of announcing this on the trade paperback copy.
The first sentence on the first page announces the death of a young teenage girl named Lydia, so immediately you are drawn into the story. You discover she has drowned, but it’s not sure whether it was an accident, suicide, or murder. Thus begins the unravelling of the tale: how the family is reacting, what Lydia’s life was like leading up to her death, and of course the events that were set in motion which led to her death. It takes place in the 1970’s in a small town in Ohio. Lydia’s family is Chinese American and is all struggling to fit in, in their own way. Let me say it again; the plotting of this story was just brilliant.
And it was relatable for me too. I just recently watched the episode of the Mindy Project where Mindy struggles with the decision to return back to work after having her baby. And then in this book, Lydia’s mother struggles with the same decision — eventually deciding to stay at home and give up her dreams of med school. Spoiler alert: this does not end well for the family. Are you surprised that I read serious books and watch the Mindy Project at the same time? You shouldn’t be; a girl’s gotta chill sometimes. But seriously; watching/reading characters who are going through the same things and struggling with the same decisions you are is not only reassuring, it’s fascinating too.
I’m not going to babble on about how great this book is because you should take this new found time to go buy it. Go to your local independent bookstore, pick it up from the library, or get it online. Just do it.
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About The Author
Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.
Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio. She graduated from Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, One Story, The Guardian, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize, the Massachusetts Book Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Review By Anne Logan Of I’ve Read This | The Black Lion is a humble interdisciplinary journal that values your voice. Visit the submissions page to learn more about submitting to the Journal’s sections or to The Wire’s Dream Magazine. | Copyright Policy
Author image from author “about” page, by Kevin Day Photography. Book image from author website. Author bio from author website.