Obtained: Penguin Random House Canada
Publish date: May 12, 2015
I’d seen this book all over my local bookstores, so when I was offered the chance to review Ng’s novel, I took it.
Everything I Never Told You is a beautifully written novel about a mixed Chinese-American family in the 1970s. At the beginning of the first chapter, we are told that Lydia is dead, but the family has yet to discover that their beloved daughter has drowned in the lake by their house. As the family tries to unravel the mystery behind her death, we get to see three generations of the Lee clan, and how their inability to be honest with each other has everyone involved performing a balancing act that can no longer be maintained.
Ng’s writing is absolutely breathtaking. I love the way she describes the environment of each scene and sets things up so you can not only imagine them perfectly, but feel as though you’re in them. It’s wonderful. The characterization of each member of the Lee family is perfect, as well. Each person is extremely dynamic, and she uses omniscient narrative to her advantage – giving the reader the chance to see things from the perspective of each character, and adding to the overall reading experience of the book.
The plot was extremely developed. A lot of the story revolves around the death of Lydia, but I love the way that character development drives the story and is dynamic enough to keep the reader flipping the pages. Usually if a book focuses only on character development, I find myself looking for some sort of tale, but these characters let the themes of identity, fitting in, standing out, and understanding one another, flow through them. It was like each character was the star, but also had a shameful secret, and I loved uncovering the best and worst of each of these very well-rounded characters.
I had no idea I would love this book as much as I did, to be honest. I was expecting a good read and something to add to the list of things I’ve read this year. This novel is much deeper than I thought it was going to be, and I already miss living in the world Ng has built. You’re going to get a lot more out of Everything I Never Told You.