Everything I Never Told You

REVIEW: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee. Both of her parent’s want her to fulfil the dreams they never could. Lydia is dead in a nearby lake. Her family doesn’t know that yet. And when they do, it will shatter everything they thought they knew about Lydia, and each other.

I attempted to read Everything I Never Told You a couple of years ago for the #DiversAThon but only got about 50 or so pages into it as I couldn’t connect to the characters and the story didn’t grab me. This time, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell and I found the story easier to consume via audio. I think that’s because while the story is told from multiple points of view there’s also an omniscient feel to the narrative voice. For instance, there’s moments when it comments on the future, or makes an observation that a character couldn’t have known at that moment.

There’s a mystery element to Everything I Never Told You as you don’t know how Lydia died, whether it was suicide or if there was someone else with Lydia on the lake. But it’s not as if a character is being an amateur detective trying to solve it, instead it’s more about the repercussions of Lydia’s death on her parents, her older brother Nath and her younger sister Hannah.

One thing I did like about this story was that it featured a biracial family. James is Chinese-American, and Marilyn is a blonde white woman so there’s interesting commentary on how their relationship is seen from the outside and also the pressures placed on Lydia and her siblings for looking so different to their peers. Everything I Never Told You is set in the 1970s in a small town in Ohio so there’s no one else but the Lee family that looks “out of place”. It also explores the sexism of the 1960s and 70s as Marilyn dreamed of becoming a doctor and as she tried to pursue that dream, men in her university classes would persistently make comments and her own mother expected her to find a husband and settle down rather than have a career.

Everything I Never Told You is frustrating in a way because the whole Lee family is terrible at communicating with one another. No one tells anyone how they really feel about something, what they want to do in their lives, or even honestly share how their day was. They are all putting on a front in different ways, talking to each other in half-truths and bottling up everything they feel they cannot say.

Everything I Never Told You is mostly a study of a family. A family who has suddenly experienced something tragic and are all grieving differently. There’s a distance between the reader and the characters due to the narrative voice, however that does fit in well with this book as the characters are distant from one another too. 3/5.

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My #DiverseAThon TBR

The #DiverseAThon is a week-long readathon where really the only goal is to read diversely. That could mean reading books about LGBTQ+ characters, books about or by people of colour or books featuring topics such as mental health or physical disabilities. Basically, any books where the protagonist is different to you. As I am a white British, cis-gendered twenty-something from a single-parent family that means there’s a lot of books I could choose from.

There is a group book you can read for the readathon (though it isn’t compulsory to read it) which is Homegoing by Ya’a Gy’asi. I actually bought this book a few months ago but have yet to read it so this is the perfect chance to read it. Homegoing follows a family over 300 years, so you see how history and society changes (or doesn’t) and how racism affects them all.

diverseathon-tbr

I’m being realistic with my TBR for the #DiverseAThon because this readathon isn’t about reading as many books as possible (though you can try and do that if you wish) it’s about reading diversely and paying attention to what the books are talking about. I have four books on my TBR including Homegoing. There’s Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi which I am currently reading and will probably finish before the readathon kicks off tomorrow but thought I’d mention it anyway. It’s a memoir-graphic novel about a girl growing up in Iran during the 1979 revolution and how life changes for her and her family. I’m almost half way through and really enjoying it at the moment because Iran’s history is something I know very little about. Also on my TBR is Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin which is about Max who was born intersex meaning he is neither fully boy nor fully girl. I’ve never read a book about an intersex character and I’ve heard good things about Golden Boy though it may make me cry. And finally I have another recent purchase, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng which is about a Chinese-American family in the 1970s dealing with the grief of losing a family member.

The readathon is from Monday 12th September at 12am to Monday 19th September at 11:59pm and is hosted by WhittyNovels, She Might Be Monica, Christina Marie and SquibblesReads. The best way to chat to the hosts and to everyone else taking part in the readathon is to use #DiverseAThon on Twitter and Instagram.

Are you going to take part in #DiverseAThon? Do you generally read diversely or is it something you have to put an effort into? I do try to read diversely whether that’s reading more books from authors who are people of colour or books about characters that are nothing like me. Sometimes it doesn’t work and sometimes it does but that’s just the way life works sometimes.