Review: Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest in the family – Hannah – who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

Everything I Never Told You is a gripping page-turner, about secrets, love, longing, lies and race.


RATING

4.2 STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I think that this is the hardest book ever to review, because it carries such complex and important issues, that I am scared that my review will not serve enough justice. I try to collect my thoughts, mental note some powerful themes that are worth to be highlighted.

This is not only the story of Chinese-American family losing their teenage daughter, it is the story of racism, sexism and the consequences of family drama.

The Lee family comprises of James and Marilyn, with their children, Nathan, Lydia and Hannah. Lydia, being the middle and trophy child, faces the challenge which is to fulfill her parents’ expectations – her mother’s ambition to graduate from medical school and fight the norms of male domination in science field and her father’s which is to have the popularity that he never had as a teenager. James and Marilyn focus all their attention to Lydia, while totally ignoring Nathan and Hannah. They are complacent towards Nathan and Hannah’s childhood, ambitions and needs. It seems like they want to perfectly mould Lydia to become their living expectation, creating a heavy pressure towards her. Lydia, being a Chinese does not give her the speciality to stand out among her peers, involve in social activities etc.

However, when Lydia is found dead, all of parents’ dreams crumble. At that point of time, the family’s past and doings are disentangled. We get to observe each characters’ past and background that gives an insight on who they truly are as a person and what has changed them prior to Lydia’s death.

I appreciate how Celeste Ng crafts the story by the way of  “Show, don’t tell.” The readers have the chance to comprehend and understand the meaning of the ending abstractly. I love how Ng tackles the issue of womanhood, sexism and race in the book. Marilyn faces confusion to either chase her dreams to become a doctor or to leave her family behind. She wants to be extraordinary compared to everybody else but at the same time she also wants to be a wonderful wife and mother. She also faces prejudice from her male colleagues because they think Marilyn is not worthy for higher education. James on the other hand, fights his inner demons. He is deep down embarrassed that he is different from anybody else just because he has different skin colour and his parents are only “workers in the school”, instead of working in an elite class. He longs for friends, love and popularity.

This book is dark, emotional and heavy to read. I, myself find it difficult to read some parts of the book, mainly because they are very uncomfortable to read. I feel for Lydia so much, the similar feeling when we know that we let our parents down. Some people are not born with talents that their parents possess, that when we fail to exceed their expectations, the failure seems unacceptable for them. The last chapter infers that there is hope and better days to come after a storm.

This story teaches me that after an life-changing incident, we must collect our thoughts and move forward for the sake of our family members, instead of dwelling of the past and what is lost.

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Sabrina

 

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Review: Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

RATING

5 GLITTERING STARS!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am truly speechless. After reading, I feel like, “WOW, what a moving and impactful read!”.

I think my words and review will never be suffice to prove this book is truly powerful and gives profound messages to the readers. I don’t want to give too much information to you guys, because I think it’s best to read this without knowing much. You will easily get into this book as the story flows smoothly and many POVs are given as background stories and elaboration of what had happened with each character.

This book makes me read it effortlessly, I don’t feel forced to read it, my body just hungers for the end of the story. There is a charm in Celeste Ng’s story that makes me want to finish it in one siting.

The central of the book is the narratives of two mothers who raise their children very differently from each other. One is raised in a perfectly manageable and ruled community and the other varies. Along the story, readers can think on which mother is the best in nurturing and giving support to their children.

Celeste Ng is my new favourite author! Her words are just so perfect and connected to each other. The story is so real and amazingly written and the characters are full of expressions and flawed (I truly appreciated that). This book shows that people are never good and bad. People will always have to fight with their inner demons.

I am very grateful to have read this masterpiece as it changes the way I think as a young adult. We, people tend to think that we have to follow rules in everything we do. However, we forget that rules can either be good or bad to us. The truth is to never generalise people. Some people will have their own ways of living and it is never our job to judge.

The book tells that there are always second chances in life in every mistake that you do. Life is a learning process, it is okay to fail one time and later rise up to become successful.

“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.” 

Little Fires Everywhere is definitely my favourite book of the year, so far. I am excited on Celeste Ng’s new move on her next books.

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Sabrina