ISBN-13: 9780349134284
Publisher: Blackfriars
Publication Date: 28 November 2014
Format: Paperback, 292 pgs
Source: Purchased

Lydia Lee was sixteen when she had gone missing. Her mother, Marilyn, was the first one who noticed something was amiss when she opened her daughter's door and saw the bed unslept in. 

What immediately unfolds next is learning about Lydia's death and a series of events that make the Lees family to question about Lydia and the day she disappeared. It seems none of the family members really know what she has been doing or how she was getting along with her friends. Lydia was the middle child of the family; she had an elder brother, Nathan, and a younger sister, Hannah. Lydia was the most favoured child in the family, especially her mother who had high hopes of her. 

Nathan is suspicious of a boy called Jack, who is their neighbour as well. He has the reputation of wooing girls and discarding them like used rags in school. Nathan believes Lydia was his latest target, but he didn't share his suspicion with his parents or the police. 

However, there is much more to the mystery for what also hold this story is the different ethnicity of the Lees family. Their father, James, is an American born of the first-generation Chinese immigrants while their mother is a native American. This together with their background differences have made them conspicuous in a small-town Ohio, especially in the 1970s, in which this story's time period is set. Despite James being born in America, he still finds himself an outcast and a misfit. 

Marilyn, on the other end, is a woman who has her dreams of becoming a doctor but meeting and marrying James have altered her plans. Family becomes her, and after Lydia's death she felt the world has came crashing down on her. The relationship between Marilyn and James began to waver, as each begins to wonder what would happen if she has sought her dreams or if he has married a woman of the same race. 

What makes this literary fiction a poignant read is it explores the domestic dynamics of a mixed racial family; the challenges they face with the society as well as the expectations of the parents have of their children. This is not the usual "whodunit" mystery although it does piques readers' curiosity surrounding Lydia's death, though. Nonetheless, readers will be entranced by this tale until the devastating conclusion, where the truth is finally revealed. 
20 Responses
  1. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    I found this book heartbreaking, with lots of good discussable topics. (Our book club is reading it this month.) For some reason I did not totally love it though...I got really hung up on the parents. I really REALLY couldn't stand them!

  2. Melody Says:

    Sandy - It was an engaging read, but like you I didn't really love it. The characters are sympathetic in my opinion; and after reading till the end I realised there isn't any one I like.

  3. jenclair Says:

    I like some of the aspects you mention, and I am curious about the final reveal. On the other hand, I want to like at least some of the characters.

  4. Kay Says:

    I have this one on audio and meant to read it next, but I guess I forgot. OK, next up on audio for me. JoAnn spoke highly of it and your review makes me even more interested. It does sound like it's not a real "feel good" kind of book though. Best not read when down in the dumps? LOL

  5. Unknown Says:

    This sounds wonderful! It's been on my list for a while, but I've been on the fence about whether to buy it. You may have just pushed me off the fence. :-)

  6. Jillian Says:

    I've heard nothing but great things about this book, and hearing its premise, it sure does sound like something I'd love to read. Maybe I'll just get on it soon, push it toward the front of my tbr pile just to see what the fuss is about. I am glad you liked it as well.

  7. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - I know what you mean about the characters, Jenclair. Characterisations are a big part of the story and it'd definitely makes the book better and a greater read if we like them better.

  8. Melody Says:

    Kay - No, definitely not a "feel good" kind of book. It's a sad story. Looking forward to your thoughts! :)

  9. Melody Says:

    Irene - I hope you'll enjoy it if you do read it. :)

  10. Melody Says:

    Jillian - It was a great read. I hope you'll enjoy it too!

  11. Iliana Says:

    This sounds really good. I like fiction with a touch of mystery too so this would be perfect. Will have to add it to my list!

  12. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I can't wait to hear what you'll think of it, Iliana. :)

  13. This is one I really hope to read at some point this year. So much of what this book encompasses interests me. I am glad you liked it, Melody. Thank you for your insightful review.

  14. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I think this book makes a good book club discussion. I'm anxious to hear what you'll think about this book. :)

  15. Becca Says:

    I keep thinking this book will make for a good readalong book. I would love to read it that way.

  16. Melody Says:

    Becca - Yes, definitely! :)

  17. I can't wait to read this one--though I have it on audio and I wonder if it would be better on paper. Sounds like lots of really deep and dark things happening here!

  18. Melody Says:

    Trish - I can't wait to hear what you'll think of this, Trish. I have not tried audio before, but I think it'd make the reading experience so much different from the print version; with the narrators' expressive voice and all.

  19. I am pretty sure I just add all of the books that you read to my TBR list when I visit (kidding...kind of not though). LOL! I love the sound of this one and cannot wait to read it for myself. Great review!

  20. This is not an especially uplifting book, though by the end there's enough reconciliation that it doesn't leave you bummed out. But if you appreciate exceptional writing and powerful themes, you'll want to spend some time with Everything I Never Told You. It really is a remarkable book, and I'll watch eagerly for whatever else Celeste Ng produces in the future.

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