Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is so well written with details that could have very well been overlooked yet not overdone. Lydia is dead, the beginning of the unravelling of a family. The how's and the why's slowly unravel, too, and it is not as the reader expects. Yet it makes perfect sense. It also becomes clear that Lydia's death is a peripheral part of the story in some ways. It was a catalyst for the change in dynamics but could have happened at another point in time with big shift.
The time frame of the tragedy is 1977 (I think). Nath, the oldest child, is ready to graduate and leave for Harvard. Lydia is two years younger, and then Hannah, my personal favorite, is a very clear, unplanned caboose. James, the father, is a tenured professor of American History in a small, college town. He is Japanese American married to Marilyn, an intelligent blonde homemaker with unfulfilled dreams.
The story beautifully illustrates a truism my best friends and I have come to realize in theory, although not necessarily in practice; a) that no matter our intentions, our children interpret life and events, big and small, very differently than we expect and no matter how we might guess, we will be wrong (this extends to spouses and others), and b) even with our best intentions, we saddle our children with our own expectations and unrealized dreams, our own insecurities and our deepest fears. c) Three children can grow up in the same home with the same parents and have completely different childhoods. That one I knew. Yet the author carefully constructs each family member and interaction with intent and different perception.
Everything I Never Told You is the blank space between the lines, the assumptions, and the motivations never discussed.
It is a book club book. It would be an interesting book to discuss. There are parallels, symbolism, metaphors, etc. More than I caught but it is a beautifully, resonant book. Highly recommend.