It wasn’t my original intention to be blogging today, however I’ve just been awoken at 7am on a Sunday (gah…) by Storm Ciara. If you haven’t heard, then it’s the winter storm that hit the UK overnight. Think lots of howling, fences falling over, phone cables whirring, flights are cancelled etc.. but from what I can see, the worst has not yet happened – no wheelie bins have fallen over.
So because of this lovely extra time I now have before I get myself ready to brace the elements for a spot of coffee in my favourite place this morning, I thought I’d tell you all about one of my latest reads. I’m doing pretty well getting through my TBR pile as I promised myself – so so far so good for 2020 reading goals! Just another 12 to go!
The one taken from my TBR this time is Celeste Ng’s (Pronounced ing)’s first Novel, ‘Everything I never told you’. I’ve heard about her novels most recently from ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ which I haven’t read, but when I saw this copy of her first novel available for £2 in my favourite little book corner of the gift shops at Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire, I had to buy it.
EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, CELESTE NG.
‘Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.’
‘Everything I never told you’ is a novel about a Chinese-American family parented by Marilyn and James Lee, who are living in a small town in Ohio, in the 1970s. There have three children, Nath the eldest, then Lydia and finally the youngest, Hannah.
What is quite apparent is that the middle child in this story, is their favourite (unusual for its usually the youngest). Lydia is that middle child. So when she goes missing and eventually as we know as readers, turns up dead, the novel follows each character as they look for the ‘why’.
Initially I thought that this story was going to be a murder mystery; in actual fact right up to the last couple of chapters I thought that. The real story is actually about the fact that families can know nothing of each other, even when living together. They are embroiled in their own projections, expectations, fears, secrets, wants and needs. The story is about a mother so desperate to make something of herself yet unable to during motherhood, and a father who still feels out of place in society.
One quote that follows quite readily through the book is
‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’
So whilst one gains, another loses. This is exactly the case within the Lee family dynamic. Whilst Lydia is given all the special attention from her mother, Hannah is ignored and Nath is sneered at for his successes. When Nath is ready to leave for college, Lydia feels lost and trapped in the family home without him. When James gained a wife and a child, Marilyn lost her chances of becoming a Doctor or scientist.
It’s an absolutely fascinating novel, and so very well written. It unveils the dynamics within some families you maybe have known or are a part of, where a parent is so unbearably pushy on their child that their child suffers. We only have to watch a couple of episodes of ‘Dance Moms’ or have known that kid at school that was enrolled in every afterschool class or had to attend something at 6am before school each day and as such was permanently tired and not really enjoying it anyway – all because they were pushed. It’s not to say that encouraging or motivating your children to develop skills and talents is a bad thing, but when they aren’t enjoying it, it isn’t their passion or you are projecting what you had wished you had done, then this book serves as a warning as to the split in the family dynamics that can occur. Children can become distant, be deceitful or do everything to hide the fact to their parents that they are unhappy and not successful at this area their parent has chosen for them. I felt that it was a truly important thing to take away from this story. If we look at Nath, he was allowed to chose what had interested him and he was successful in these and wanted to go and study them. The family dynamics truly captured me.
One other line that I absolutely adored (because I am fascinated by the moon and the stars) is a scene where Lydia and her brother Nath look out the the window of his room and look up to the stars.
Here the stars dazzled her eyes like sequins. ‘This is what infinity looks like‘, she thought.
I absolutely loved that idea. Its true; look up to the skies and it instantly reminds you of that.
So there was some beautiful lines in the story, some really well developed characters, family dynamics and I felt the suspense was great. This was mainly built using the technique that we as readers know something about a character that the others don’t ; I absolute love this technique as I’m such a nosy reader!
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 4.5/5
I loved this book, honestly its one of the best books about families that I’ve read in a long time. It had some of my favourite novel writing elements, beautiful descriptions and I loved the sensitive and thoughtful character of Hannah. I’m going to be handing this book over to my friend I’m meeting this morning for coffee for her to read, I truly do recommend it. I am also now looking to find ‘little fires everywhere’.. but obviously once my book buying ban is up!!
Where to buy:
Book Depository: £7.99
Or maybe check out your local library.
WASHED DOWN WITH:
So I actually washed this down with a lot of coffee, because I read this one whilst at my desk at work or whilst travelling to Amsterdam. I wanted to share a couple of my snaps as I visited the American Book Center whilst there and its incredible.
Obviously there had to be pancakes too..
It was an amazing trip and that book store is something else. If you’re able to, I’d strongly suggest a visit to Amsterdam with at least one night’s overnight stay; its an incredible place.
And so dear readers I move on to continue reading my current read as the morning fully breaks, which is ‘The Heavens’ by Sandra Newman; quite fitting considering the sound outside sounds like they are thundering down on us right now!
Enjoy your Sunday.
Till the next chapter,
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