Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What We're Reading: Everything I Never Told You

Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet.
This is the sentence that will haunt the reader until the last page of the book, as the author follows the Lee family in the wake of their eldest daughter Lydia's death, and travels back in time to describe the events that led them to that point. ​

With breathtakingly lyrical prose, Celeste Ng introduces us to Marilyn and James Lee before their marriage. Marilyn, the daughter of a single woman who did not complain or miss a beat when her husband left her, raising her daughter herself while teaching home economics in school, grew up wanting to be more than a housewife, and went to Harvard to become a doctor. But at Harvard, she met James Lee, a young assistant history professor with whom she fell in love and then married. James Lee grew up as the son of Chinese immigrants,  struggling with not fitting in all throughout his youth. But even after studying American history at Harvard and marrying an American woman, he still struggles with fitting in. As their firstborn daughter Lydia grows up, each parent imbues her with their unrealized dreams - Marilyn by wanting her daughter to become a doctor, and James by wanting her to fit in. Now, it is up to Lydia's parents and her two siblings to take a closer look at their lives and each one's role in Lydia's life to be able to come to terms with their loss.

Beautiful, wrenching, and complex, Everything I Never Told You is a book to savor. It is an emotional read that brings up many issues such as identity, secrets, and the complexity of family dynamics, and for many people it might hit close to home.

This book was one of the recipients of this year'​s Alex Award, given by the American Library Association to adult books with teen appeal. This is indeed a book that teens will enjoy, especially those who liked I'll Give You the Sun, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, and The Fault In Our Stars. Readers who enjoy authors like Jeffrey Eugenides, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Michael Cunningham can add Celeste Ng to their list!

Editor's note: Most of the named books are so popular that you may have a hard time finding them in the library. But we do have audio book versions and, in some cases, e-books that you can check out too!

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