Everything I Never Told You begins by informing the reader that Lydia is dead. The beloved daughter of a Chinese-American family living in a small Ohio town, Lydia is 16 when she leaves her house one evening and is found, days later, in the lake nearby. As the investigation into her death begins to dry up, her family questions everything they thought they knew about Lydia — and about their relationships to each another.
James, a professor at the local college, channels his experience with discrimination into a fervent desire for his own children to fit in. Marilyn, a stay-at-home mother, is determined to see Lydia achieve the academic and career goals she herself set aside. And their other two children, Nath and Hannah, are largely left to fend for themselves amid the upheaval following Lydia’s disappearance. Celeste Ng brings these characters into sharp focus, dissecting their every assumption and flaw, teasing out their secrets until they become living, breathing people who could easily live just next door.
“Sometimes you almost forgot: that you didn’t look like everyone else. In homeroom or at the drugstore or at the supermarket, you listened to morning announcements or dropped off a roll of film or picked up a carton of eggs and felt like just another someone in the crowd. Sometimes you didn’t think about it at all. And then sometimes you noticed the girl across the aisle watching, the pharmacist watching, the checkout boy watching, and you saw yourself reflected in their stares: incongruous. Catching the eye like a hook. Every time you saw yourself from the outside, the way other people saw you, you remembered all over again.”
Celeste Ng is the author of Everything I Never Told You. Her writing has appeared in publications including One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, and the Kenyon Review Online. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Length: 304 pages
Set in: Ohio, United States
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