Oh wow, where do I start.
The author touches on so many complex topics, ranging from how close family ties can easily come undone, infidelity, depression, pressure, racial identity, racism and sexism.
To be honest, I struggled a little through the first half of this book, but to be fair, I had many other things I needed to focus on while reading this novel – like the upcoming exams among many other things as a working, studying, and homemaking mom of three.
By the time I got to the second half however, I literally dropped everything I was busy with to finish what should have been a page turner from the very beginning.
“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” For a fleeting moment I think this is going to be another “lovely bones” story, but I quickly realise it is nothing like the dead-girl-trapped-between-life-and-death we fell in love with years ago.
Lydia is dead yes, but unlike Susie, she never gets the chance to say how she truly feels and this novel, beautiful and poised in its writing, describes the events up to this fateful day when Lydia’s waxy and swollen body is discovered at the bottom of the nearby lake.
Half Chinese, half white Lydia is a loner who’s only two friends are her big brother Nathan and little sis Hannah. Although she never tells them this.
Her Chinese dad, James, hates Chinese food, hasn’t spoken his native language since his move to the states; and wants more than anything for Lydia to fit in. Throughout her life, he pushes her to blend in with the other kids at school who rejects her because she’s so “different.” A Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio was considered quite different, but James wants Lydia to be popular so she wouldn’t be picked on so much. Like he was, growing up.
All Marilyn, her white American-born mom wants is for Lydia to excel at school and become everything she herself had given up to start a family. And been longing for ever since.
Has being pulled in all directions at home, having to deal with the pressures and racial remarks from peers at school, and her brother soon leaving for college, finally driven Lydia over the edge?
Everything I never told you, by Celeste Ng is certainly a story you should make part of your reading list this Summer. It sketches a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the unnerving struggles between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives.
I hope you enjoyed the review 🙂