54. Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 starsEverything I Never Told You
is a very assured debut novel from Celeste Ng. So assured, it won Amazon’s best book of 2014.
The book opens with a matter of fact statement that Lydia Lee is dead. This is something that her family cannot initially accept, although they are soon made aware of the truth. The novel looks at the impact that Lydia’s death has on this family of outsiders and at the family history that led up to her death.
The Lee family are Chinese-Americans in a small Ohio town where this guarantees that they will be discriminated against. As with many such families, the Lees vest their hopes in their children, particularly Lydia. Marilyn Lee, a white woman who abandoned her professional ambitions to marry and raise a family, is the very embodiment of a Tiger Mother who is determined that her daughter will achieve all of those things that she never got to. Such is her devotion to Lydia, son Nathan and younger daughter Hannah are sidelined.
Ng writes tellingly about the casual racism and sexism that has blighted the lives of James and Marilyn Lee, and shows that their children’s expectations cannot be much better. The story of the Lees is a domestic Greek tragedy about which they seem only vaguely aware and incapable of averting.View all my reviews