Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Everything I Never Told You

Cover image for Everything I never told you : a novelEverything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng
Penguin Press, 2014. 297 pages. Fiction.

The sudden and unexpected death of 16 year old Lydia Lee sends her bi-racial family into an emotional tailspin as they each try to figure out how their seemingly close knit family could have missed the emotional turmoil Lydia felt, that lead to her untimely end. Ng slowly leads the reader from the nearly picture perfect surface of this complex family, through deeper and deeper levels of understanding of the false perceptions, projections, and miss-communication that lurked beneath the surface. The novel deals with themes of race, belonging, expectations, failed dreams, and the difficult dynamics that result as these issues span relationships and generations.

This is not a happy book, as one may ascertain by the themes, but it is a well crafted and captivating read. While at certain points I found some of the relationships slightly one dimensional or over wrought (the mother completely misunderstands Lydia because she is so focused on Lydia becoming the doctor she never was), overall the ideas and complex family dynamics Ng is able to explore are thought provoking and speak experiences that we all struggle with to some extent in our family and personal lives. ZB

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