Book: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.-Goodreads
Review: "Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." This is one of the strongest opening lines of any book I've ever read. This book is not a thriller or a murder mystery (what I initially thought based on something someone told me). This is a family drama that explores the Lee family in the 1970s. While there is love and friendship, there is also dysfunction, racism and misguided parenting that has devastating consequences. My heart absolutely broke for Lydia and her siblings. While I understood her parents motivations it was tragic how they were unable to truly "see" their own children.
This book resonated with me on many levels. As a parent, it made me evaluate how I treat my children (am I pressuring my kids to do activities because of unrealized personal dreams? I don't think so but I ran the question by my husband just in case). It emphasized how important open communication is (of course, my kids are little and I can imagine there is no such thing as 'knowing everything' as they get older). Remembering my high school years, I understood Lydia's struggles to fit in (I'm sure every girl feels like this at some point in her life).
The weakest part of this book was the ending. I'll avoid spoilers but I was not satisfied with how Ng decided to resolve Lydia's death. Even though I think she should have gone a different direction, this is a book I cannot stop thinking about. Strong read.