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Everything I Never Told You

-- A Book Review

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Written by: Amelie HUANG
Photo by:Online
Edited by:James Campion,WANG Zijin |  Date:2017/08/0248 Hits

Celeste Ng is an American-born Chinese whose grandparents emigrated from Hong Kong, China. Inspired by her family history, she has a deep understanding about such Americans with black hair carried by their Chinese lineage as her, being differentiated by their white fellows.  Everything I Never Told You, a bestseller on the New York Times, made her the most influential female Chinese writer to date.

 

the cover of the book (of the original edition)

 

The story that this book tells revolves around the suicide of Lydia Lee at the age of 15, the middle daughter of James Lee, who is the only child of Chinese immigrants and Marilyn, a distinguished American woman who is disgusted by her mother, an American widow and house-maker. Lydia’s body lies in the cold water of the town lake not far from their house, where the shocking and heartbroken secret of the family hides.

 

Lydia is the proud favorite of her parents, and her brother Nath and her younger sister Hanna know that well. She has been considered an academically gifted girl since childhood, studying physics and chemistry in advance and getting all As. It seems that she has many friends, whom she is often heard to be talking on the phone and whom she sometimes goes to the cinema with.

 

the cover of the book (translation)

The death, more unbelievably, the suicide of Lydia, a girl who should have been happy and blessed, is such a hit to the whole family that they can't live the way they did before the tragedy. Something must have gone wrong, otherwise Lydia's parents could by no means believe that her beloved daughter would kill herself. They are forced to reflect on themselves and their love for Lydia, and this, along with the efforts of Nath and Hanna to uncover their sister’s secrets, helps unearth the truth gradually. Lydia's death is indeed a relief to herself, which, you will find at last, has also saved the family, connecting them more tightly than before.

 

The book is more about ethnicity than about the overwhelming love from and expectation of parents towards children. No one has ever expressed in this way the loneliness and helplessness of that generation of Chinese people like the author's parents who had no choice but to move to the US in the 1960s, thus the novel has nationwide impact on the people in the two countries. The book is rather worth reading in that, even if you are not able to discern the significance that the author has intend to convey, you will be moved and inspired by the breakdown and the reunion subseqently of the Lee family.