It took me a while to get into but it was worth it.
Celeste Ng has very quickly become one of my favourite authors as her characters are ones that I really enjoy spending time with. I love the ‘storybook’ way she writes where she often breaks the narrative to say how a specific moment went on to affect the character’s future. Little Fires Everywhere is one of my favourite reads of the year so far, so I knew that I was going to like Everything I Never Told You.
On the surface, Everything I Never Told You is about a Chinese-American family in the 70’s who experience the tragic loss of their favourite daughter, Lydia.
As the book goes on, you learn a lot about the parent’s (Marilyn and James) life, and how their experiences affected their relationships with their children. Marilyn had always wanted to become a doctor and didn’t want to be a housewife but that is how her life turned out. Determined not to let her daughter end up the same way she puts a lot of pressure on Lydia, and Lydia goes along with it just to keep her mother happy and to stop her from disappearing again. It’s all a little complicated. However, I understood why everyone would think that Lydia was Marilyn’s favourite child, but I didn’t get why she was James’. I couldn’t figure out the connection which meant Lydia had to be his favourite.
I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly fond of either Marilyn or James. I hated how they treated Hannah as if she was invisible. But whilst I understood Marilyn’s motives, I couldn’t figure out James as much. However, that’s maybe because I refused to give him any sort of chance after he cheated on his wife the day of Lydia’s funeral. I don’t know how Marilyn forgave him for that.
It did take me about 100 pages to really get into this book, but once I was there I was addicted to learning about this family and why what happened, happened. You never really get to know Lydia, but I think that was the point, she didn’t really know who she was. I found the book quite heart-breaking in many ways. There’s a lot of grief, and not just from the passing of Lydia and I left the book knowing that these characters and their lives had changed forever and probably not in a good way.
If I had to pick a favourite from Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere, I’d have to say Little Fires Everywhere, but both of these books are definitely worth a read.