Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Published June 26th, 2014 by Penguin Press
Hardcover; 297 pages
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Book Club
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.