Another one of those books that has popped up on Must-Read lists for months now, I picked up this slender novel at an airport kiosk in Detroit. It was one of those instances when I knew close to nothing about this book, its story, or its author; needless to say, the opening lines hit me really hard, right in that place between your heart and your lungs, making it hard to breathe for a moment:
"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast."
I read this mystery/thriller in less than 36 hours, and it was breathless, heartwrenching, starkly beautiful. The tension is beautifully built, through such powerful yet subtly storytelling that you don't know how it hits you, but suddenly you feel yourself immersed in Lee family world. Without further ado, here are 100 (more) words about this book, and an argument for putting on your ToDo list.
POP Review #5: Everything I never Told You; by Celeste Ng
This thriller is a snapshot of a family forced to face, fight through, overcome or be submerged by tremendous tragedy. Context reveals itself slowly, patiently – the family’s origin (love) story; dreams deferred, then projected on others; early-onset chaos that impacts everyone in the family in an exacting, critical, and wholly disparate way, setting them off on orbits away from each other instead of drawing them closer. The characters are revealed tenderly, and are fully three-dimensional – Ng’s writing affords them the capacity to experience formidable moments separately, creating a stunning kaleidoscopic view of what it really means be ‘family.’ Read this.
Addendum: The book is a page-turner, the story compelling and heartbreaking and ultimately beautiful. The family is mixed - the father a Chinese-American, the mother a white woman from Virginia. Their story of love in adversity, though it might seem familiar, is told with such nuance and grace that it brings still more humanity to this sad evolution of whom society deems worthy of loving. The novel creates a world within this familiar one, and the characters' actions are informed by the love and hate and yearning and ambition and growth that is embedded in all of us. But Ng treats her characters, flawed and broken as they are, with compassion and respect and for that I am so grateful to her - otherwise, it might not have been so easy to handle this story of tragedy and family.
Bookspace Rating: All of the love and heartbreak I can muster on this quiet Monday morning. All of the stars. Read this.