Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: Book Review


I've been on an audiobook tear lately, starting with Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere (which I'll review separately, but in short didn't find that compelling) and Everything I Never Told You, the latter of which surprised me in how much it swept me up and made me think. In fact, I breezed through all 11 hours of this recording in 2 days, finding it difficult to stop once I was sucked into the complex, multi-dimensional and tragic lives of each Lee family member and the central mystery around their middle daughter's death.

Part of it was the beautiful writing, which reads easily and poetically, painting clear imagery of each family member and offering us access into their deepest of thoughts, both conscious and unconscious. Another part was the realistic and deeply heartbreaking portrayal of being an Asian American and a bi-racial household in the America of the 1950s to 1970s, with unnerving parallels to the struggles around racism and conformity that still hold true today. And lastly, the suspense - what exactly happened to Lydia, the daughter who we the reader learn immediately is dead? We weave through timelines and generations to uncover everything that built up to this conclusion, and what's most satisfying is that ultimately we learn exactly what happened, but are still left with questions.