Novel succeeds in showing family’s resilience over loss

By: Mercede Kraabel

“Everything I Never Told You” is written by Celeste Ng. The story begins with a Chinese American family in the 1970s in small town Ohio. Their middle daughter Lydia is dead; Lydia the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee.

Marilyn and James both had dreams they wanted for her. Marilyn wanted her to become a doctor, and James wanted her to be popular.

When they find her body in a nearby lake, their family starts to fall apart. Marilyn wants to find whoever did this no matter the cost, and she spends most of her time in Lydia’s bedroom. James, who is consumed by guilt, may end up destroying his marriage. Lydia’s older brother Nathan thinks the neighborhood bad boy Jack has something to do with it. Hannah, the invisible child, sees everything, and she thinks that she knows what really happened to her big sister.

“Everything I Never Told You” is unlike any other book that you will read. It’s a different kind of book, where instead of telling from before Lydia’s death, it’s told from her family’s point of view after her death. It’s a story about family and home and what it’s like for a family to understand each other.

That’s why I love this book so much. It not just about the person who died but who the family was with and without her — how they mourn and learn to live without her there every day. It’s about not just an everyday American family, but a Chinese American family in the 1970s where other people thought they were different and didn’t like them because of it.

That is why I think “Everything I Never Told You” stands out to me.

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