Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Everything I Never Told You; Celeste Ng

Blackstone Audio - 2014

"Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet." is how this story begins.  As the Lee family sits together for breakfast mother, Marilyn, father, James, oldest child and brother Nathan, and youngest child, Hannah, Lydia is absent, but they expect Lydia to be down any minute. When she doesn't join them, they discover her bed has not been slept in and Lydia isn't around.  It isn't until two days later that her body is discovered in a nearby lake. So what happened to sixteen year-old Lydia and why?

The year is 1977 and the Lee's live in a college town in Ohio. The father, James is a Chinese American and teaches History at the college in town, and his wife, Marilyn is a white stay at home mom. Lydia and her siblings are the only children in their school of Chinese descent, and have been the subject of taunts and slanted-eye gestures from some unkind classmates over the years.  Both parents have different wants for their daughter Lydia, andthey pressure her in different ways to become what they what their daughter to be. Brother Nathan will be heading off to Harvard in the fall, and he believes a neighbor may have been involved in Lydia's disappearance and drowning.

The story is told in the third person, and from that we learn a great deal about the family background, a short separation of the parents, and the way the children handled that. And, although this story is certainly part mystery (what happened to Lydia -- murder, suicide or accidental drowning), it is much more a story about the Lee family dynamics and how that impacted not just Lydia, but the other two children as well. What happens when parents try to see their unrealized dreams materialize through their offspring?

The audio version was read by Cassandra Campbell and so well done.  This is an impressive debut novel that will appeal to readers who enjoy well written stories about family dysfunction, while mystery fans might be a little disappointed.

4.5/5 stars
(library audiobook)

14 comments:

  1. Ooh, I do love a good, dysfunctional family. This sounds good!

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  2. I think I might be in that group of mystery readers. I've tried listening to it twice and bogged down. I'm going to give it one more go and then if it still doesn't work, take a break from it for a while or maybe try in print. It's a book that I honestly want to read. LOL

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  3. I definitely thought this one would be more mystery with that opening line! But, was actually pleasantly surprised that so much of it was coming of age type stuff...

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  4. I read that one last year. I was slightly disappointed because I thought it would be more of a mystery. But I still really enjoyed it.

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  5. This book made our book club's reading list for this year so I will be reading it soon.

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  6. I am looking forward to reading this one. I am already prepared not to expect too much in the way of mystery with this one, which is fine. I do enjoy books about family dynamics and deal with dysfunction.

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  7. I read this one and loved it (one of my favorites of 2014)! I'm not big on mysteries, and I love family stories, which is why it probably worked so well for me.

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  8. This was one of my favorites last year - glad you loved it, too!

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  9. Great review Diane. I enjoyed this novel and thought it was an impressive debut as well.

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  10. You liked this one quite a bit more than me. I'm not sorry I read it, but I couldn't get past the loneliness that each character experienced. However, I haven't dismissed this author and look forward to her next book.

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  11. I love Cassandra Campbell as a narrator and just downloaded this one!

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  12. Wow. I have not read a book this good in a long, long, time. So many significant themes in this book that are significant and that I can personally identify with. This book is written so artfully, it is utterly beautiful and thought-provoking. There is a mystery of sorts in this book, although I would not call it a mystery. It is absolutely beautiful, both in writing, and in the themes it touches upon. Truly one of the best books I have read.

    Marlene
    View this site for Best Deals for Rockaway Beach Oregon Hotels

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