Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng

Read reviews from: goodreads and Amazon

4 thoughts on “Everything I Never Told You

  1. gina.marin@sjsu.edu

    This book offers an historical view (1960s-1970s) of an ethnically diverse family living in a small town in the Midwest. As the only Asian family in town they live an isolated life. It is especially difficult for their two teenage kids in the local high school to assimilate. The book also has a cautionary note about the damage caused by parental pressure and favoritism. Other issues brought up include sexuality and family dynamics.

  2. I had high hopes for this book, as it is new, slim, and about a mixed-race family (like mine). I will say that the author is extremely talented and I expect great work from her in the future. However, this first book is just too cliched and predictable.

    In the book (spoiler alert) Lydia is a confused teenager in high school, Her mother is white and her father is the son of Chinese immigrants. She is found dead (in the first sentence of the novel). The rest of the novel is about how she died and how her parents and siblings react to the death.

    It turns out that Lydia is torn between her father’s wish for her to assimilate and have many American friends, and her mother’s hope that she will be a successful doctor. Apparently her mother was prevented by two unexpected pregnancies from pursuing her studies, and turned the thwarted ambition on to her daughter. At the same time, her father turns his back on his Chinese heritage, and the town that they are in (small town in the Midwest in the 1970s) is incredibly racist.

    So, aside from the beautiful (albeit insistently deployed metaphors), there is not much to recommend in this story. Frankly, it was just hard for me to believe in the characters. For instance, her father is a historian of American cowboy life, but he never brings up the question of race ONCE with his wife or children. He is so uncomfortable with being stared at for being different that he even stops taking his family to historical sites on summer vacation. A few hours after his daughter dies, he jumps into bed with a Chinese undergraduate who reminds him of his family. The mother, who’s supposed to be madly in love with biology, becomes pregnant twice 15 years apart without realizing it. The two parents who dearly love each other and their kids, never mention race in their private conversations.

  3. I read this book last year and then started it again to see how it would work for our program. I put it down because it just didn’t grip me. We need a book that will really grip the students. I don’t think it is the right book for the campus reading program.

  4. It didn’t really pull me in. I saw similar issues to those already raised by Karthika so won’t repeat them. I don’t think it’s the right book.

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