“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet…” With these two lines, Ng begins an emotional page-turner as the Lee family comes undone by the mysterious death of their beloved daughter. Each must struggle with their own truths and secrets, expectations and disappointments, in a world where race and gender issues play out in constant otherness. Heartbreaking and hopeful, beautifully written, this cinematic debut is a must-read.
— Melinda, Head Book Buyer
This book is devastating and perfect. The small moments and mistakes that ruin a family are masterfully examined in Ng's debut novel. Misunderstandings, expectations and misguided priorities strain the relationships of the Lee family to a breaking point. Ng's portrait of this web of decisions and consequences is so delicate and earned it never feels like it's exploiting its reader.
"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet" . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue--in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James's case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party. When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest of the family--Hannah--who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened. A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, "Everything I Never Told You" is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
About the Author
Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. She attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in "One Story," "TriQuarterly," "Bellevue Literary Review," the "Kenyon Review Online," and elsewhere, and she is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and son.