Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Published June 26th, 2014 by Penguin Press
Hardcover; 297 pages
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Book Club
Source: Library
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.79
My Rating: ★★★★

Lydia Lee is the middle daughter of James and Marilyn Lee, younger sister to Nath and older sister to Hannah. Taking place in Ohio in the 1970’s the Lee family suffers a terrible tragedy when Lydia disappears suddenly. As the Lee family deals with the disappearance we are taken back to the beginning of the family–when Marilyn and James met– and shown how things came to be the way they are. Written in alternating view points from past to present, character to character, Celeste Ng tells a poignant story of the complexity of family dynamics with beautifully written and developed characters that evoke strong feelings for each of their own stories.

Lydia, five years old, standing on tiptoe to watch vinegar and baking soda foam in the sink. Lydia tugging a heavy book from the shelf, saying, “Show me again, show me another.” Lydia, touching the stethoscope, ever so gently, to her mother’s heart. Tears blur Marilyn’s sight. It had not been science that Lydia had loved.

While this is in no way a happy story it is a beautiful, melancholy one that I found hurt to read–not necessarily because of the tragedy with Lydia, but more because of the honest truth about how her parents and siblings thought and felt about each other. These characters really make this novel stand out from a generic mystery drama. Ng writes with such honestly and complexity that each character made perfect sense as to how they had developed their little idiosyncrasies over the years. I’m not usually a fan of too many mystery novels but I sincerely enjoyed this one.

This is Celeste Ng’s debut novel and is a 2015 ALA Alex Award winner.


7 thoughts on “Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

  1. This was one of my favorite books of 2014. I am drawn to family sagas, so this certainly fit the bill. Wonderfully written, I look forward to more from this author.


  2. Good way of putting it – this book “hurt to read”. I, too, found the unraveling of their family painful to witness, but so, so well done. It’s kind of scary to think that we can be so close, and think we know each other, but be so far off.


  3. I loved this book so much! I think it’s great because it’s not a traditional thriller/mystery so it appeals to people who don’t usually like that kind of thing!


  4. This just climbed the TBR ladder a bit higher. I have to get my hands on this soon.

    It reminds me a bit of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. If you haven’t read that, you should give it a try! :)



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