Everything I Never Told You
By Celeste Ng
Review by Zoey Mills
I was recommended Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng based on my enjoyment of Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things. While both novels are arguably different, Celeste Ng cited Roy’s 1997 work as inspiration—and I quickly picked up on subtle similarities. In Everything I Never Told You we follow the story of Lydia Lee, the events leading up to and after her sudden, gruesome death, and how her family copes with their loss. The novel seems almost as though it were written backwards, by beginning with Lydia’s death and then jumping to the beginnings of the Lee family. Ng, like Roy, jumps around on the timeline of the story and explores how the family’s past and present influenced the events leading up to Lydia’s death. I’m not much of a mystery reader, but Ng had me instantly hooked and I finished the book in two days (despite my finals desperately begging for attention).
Ng explores the family dynamics of the Lee household and the fractured relationships between each character with intense detail and rich prose. Towards the end of the novel, I found myself feeling as though I knew the characters as real-life people, and I quickly became emotionally invested with Lydia’s story. I identified with some of the family drama on a personal level, which made Ng’s hauntingly beautiful prose hit home.
All in all, Everything I Never Told You is a hauntingly beautiful exploration of identity, the burden of expectations, racism in 1970’s America, and family-centered tragedies. If you enjoy the stream of conscious style of writing as seen in God of Small Things or identity exploration as seen in A Little Life, definitely give Everything I Never Told You a try.
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About the reviewer: Zoey has worked at Tredyffrin Library for a little over a year now. She is currently attending Drexel University in hopes of becoming a full-time librarian. When she has free time she enjoys reading science fiction, YA, and speculative fiction. In addition, she spends way too much time on Netflix and YouTube.