Friday, July 20, 2018

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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BOOK review
Started on: 15 June 2018
Finished on: 5 July 2018

Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages:  297 pages / 304 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2015
Price: Rp178,000 (https://www.periplus.com/)

Rating: 5/5

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"How had it begun? Like everything: with mothers and fathers. Because of Lidya's mother and father, because of her mother's and father's mothers and fathers. Because long ago, her mother had gone missing, and her father had brought her home. Because more than anything, her mother had wanted to stand out; because more than anything, her father had wanted to blend in. Because those things had been impossible.
On May 1977, Lydia's dead body is found in Middlewood Lake, at the center of town. She is the middle child of a Chinese-American family, and no one knows the story behind her sudden death. Upon discovering, Lydia's family members are devastated. They tried to cope with the situation in their own way. But things got worse and more relationships are severed as they tried to determine the mystery behind Lydia's death.

"It will tell her, she thinks. Everything Lydia no longer can. Who she had been seeing. Why she had lied to them. Why she went down to the lake."
"What had they missed that they should have seen? What small gesture, forgotten, might have changed everything? They will pick it down to the bones, wondering how this had all gone so wrong, and they will never be sure."
image source: here. edited by me.
After reading Little Fires Everywhere, I certainly need more of Celeste Ng's writing in my life, that's what urged me to finally this book up after so many years. To be honest, I don't know much about this book but a lot of people recommended it for me, especially since I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere so much. This book totally gripped my attention right from the very first page with the sentence 'Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet'. After the book got me hooked with the opening, it slowly unravels the mystery behind Lydia's death: the how and the why. Everything I Never Told You definitely satisfied my craving for Celeste Ng's writing that deals a lot with family drama, has a lot of complex emotions, and also characters that feels so real and relatable. It took me quite a long time to finish this fairly short book due to my busy schedule. I think I would've enjoyed it way better if I finished it in one or two sittings, because then I'll be able to completely immerse myself in all the emotional situations 😌.
"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. One went up and the other went down. One gained, the other lost. One escaped, the other was trapped, forever."
The story is written from third-person point of view and the story unfolds in a series of flashbacks and events from present day. This writing style enables the reader to discover the story from various perspectives. The author lets us discover the lives of each characters who are involved in the story. I think Celeste Ng really has her way of making me (as a reader) sympathize with all the characters—even when they are on opposing sides. She describes everything in a way that makes me understand the situation and can truly feel as if I were in that character's shoes.

I find it very interesting that the story talks about an Asian-American family and each of their struggles as an individual. Especially since the story is set in the 1970s, there are certain cultural barriers that makes it difficult for some people. I believe interracial marriage is also something quite uncommon back in the day. That's why when Marilyn (Lydia's mother, who's an American) decided to marry James Lee (Lydia's father, a Chinese-American), Marilyn's mother was against it. Another thing that's mentioned in this book is also Marilyn's dream of becoming a doctor. However, back in those days, it was also unusual for women to pursue such career; women are supposed to cook in the kitchen and take care of the family. Even though these days a lot of people seemed to have overcome some of those cultural barriers, I think there are some people who still live by them. I love how this book tackles such a relatable topic that are still relevant to this day, especially to Asian-American people who has probably experienced something similar in their lives. The pressure to fit in, the struggle of being 'different', how theyas parentsdon't want their children to go through the same thing, are all beautifully depicted through this heartbreaking and profoundly moving story.
"He can guess, but he won't ever knkow, not really. What it was like, what she was thinking, everything she'd never told him."
I don't want to reveal too much by sharing all my thoughts about the details of this book, because I thoroughly enjoyed the process of discovering the story behind each of the characters involved. Besides James and Marilyn, the story also digs deep into Nath and Hannah's character (Lydia's brother and sister), which is also very compelling to read because Lydia is their parents' favorite child. Overall, this book was full of emotions and thought-provoking at the same time—especially if you can relate if one of the characters one way or another. One of the things that left a deep impression for me is to not live to fulfill other people's expectations and neglecting your own happiness. That's what I really like about Celeste Ng's writing because it always makes me think and reflect upon my own life. Can't wait to read more of her books in the future! 😆
 
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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