Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You: Pure Genius in About 300 Pages

Hello my name is Shrusti, I’m 18, and I am a notorious re-reader (and re-watcher but that’s for another time; disclaimer: I have seen the Gabby Douglas Story maybe 6 times and I don’t know why).  

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This spring break, I decided to reread one of my absolute FAVORITE books of all time, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. I have recommended this book to anyone who will listen and, after taking some much needed alone time to reread it, I’m so excited to recommend it to you! (no spoilers, I promise!)

Set in the 1970s, the mixed-race Lee family is already a subject of interest in the small Ohio town. Then, daughter Lydia Lee is found dead at the bottom of a lake and quiet chaos ensues. Her family is left to piece together the mystery of Lydia’s life, which each of them only understands a small part of. Her older brother, younger sister, mother, and father each have their own version of Lydia living in their subconscious and while they confront the truth about her life, they must also confront their own secrets and faults. Ng does an amazing job at writing this story so that every sentence seems to bleed into the next one. Her descriptions never fail the reader and the emotions that all the characters feel truly jump out of the page. Yet what draws me back to this story, besides Ng’s eloquent and beautiful writing style, is her creativity with the story itself. The complexity of each character’s history and the plot twists had me begging for more at every turn. Ng’s take on the story intertwines so many subplots that there truly isn’t a boring moment in the book; every chapter is an opportunity to understand a different person.

This book tells the “missing girl” story in such a unique way, intertwining aspects of ethnicity, family, and expectations so well into the story without over analyzing the characters in order to draw meaning. This novel really is something that always keeps me thinking!

As I mentioned before, I am a big fan of rereading. The first time I read this book, I was on vacation in San Francisco in desperate need of something to help me survive the flight. But it turned into the reason I stayed up at night, fighting off my sad three-hour jet lag. Rereading it now, I feel my own view of the novel has changed and I know much more, in general, than when I first read the book 2 years ago. I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up this book and give it a read, I promise you won’t regret the journey it takes you on!

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