Book Reviews · Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Published May 12th 2015 by Little, Brown Book Group

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

I enjoyed reading this book, it was less about the effect Lydia had on people, and more of a drama story about her family. Because the story was set in the 1970s, there were themes of sexism and racism, and although those themes generally set up a nice overpowering story, I didn’t really feel the characters in this book dealt with the problems very well.

Celeste Ng has a lovely writing style, her characters are realistic and well thought out. The time the story was set in was believable and she really paints a picture with her words. Although Celeste was constantly shifting perspective throughout the story, I felt the changes were natural and never was confused or forgot whose perspective I was reading from.

Everything I Never Told You is a lovely story, I really did like the story and the way it was written, but the reason why I gave this book three-and-a-half stars is because I didn’t really like the characters (with the exception of Hannah) and the story felt forgettable to me, like sometimes after I read a good book I feel different and I feel the book changed me in some way, but although I did enjoy it, I didn’t really feel that with Everything I Never Told You.



What did you think? Let me know in the comments!





Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.

Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste 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 a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, will be published by Penguin Press in fall 2017.


6 thoughts on “Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

  1. I’ve seen this book so many times before and am always super intrigued because I don’t know where to quite categorise it! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this one and that the characters are realistic, though it’s unfortunate the book is forgettable. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for AGES now but I never find myself wanting to pick it up. I’ll have to read it soon though as the story really does sound fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

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