Everything I Never Told You- A Book that Broke My Heart

I'm not accepting many books to review these days (so many of my own to get through!), but Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You has been on my radar, so when I was offered a copy in promotion of the paperback launch from Penguin I agreed. And man, I'm glad I did. I haven't been this affected by a novel in quite some time. I know part of the emotional reaction that I had was in part because I have my own kid now, but also a result of Ng's fantastic prose.

From the beginning of the novel we are made aware that sixteen-year-old Lydia Lee is dead. Not long after we're made to know that she was found in a lake. The story is told in third-person from the perspectives of each family members: Marilyn, her white mother who desperately tried to live vicariously through the daughter she pushed too hard academically, James, her Chinese father who wanted his kids to fit in, since he had not, Nath, an older brother on his way to Harvard that was both jealous of Lydia but protective of her as well, and Hannah, the younger sister that quietly watched everyone and wanted things to be peaceful. The story weaves between the present and past, slowly giving the reader insight as to why Lydia may have ended up dead and how the family dynamics may have contributed.

This book rocked my world. There were times I had to step away from the heaviness and others where I couldn't stop reading because I was so incredibly desperate for just one iota of hope or happiness to find it's way into the Lee family. Ever since giving birth to my son last year I respond almost viscerally to anything dealing with a child's death, whether young or old. Like many, I have an overactive imagination that tends to lean the way of very pessimistic and dark. Lydia's death and other things that happened between characters nestled their way into my brain and I had to make sure to preface each read with a reminder to myself to focus on the story. 

In spite of this, or possibly because of this, I can confidently say this is one of the best books I've read this year. Ng's story and writing were such perfection that they were able to grab a hold of me and break through my cynical self for a response. I can be a tough audience. I cannot wait to reader her future endeavors. 


  1. I picked this book up a few weeks ago from the library and read maybe 50 pages. It just didn't grab me. So I returned it. Maybe I should pick it back up.

  2. This book rocked my world, too! There's a reason it won the Amazon's Editor's Pick last year!