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Publisher's Summary

A haunting debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation.

Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet.…

So begins the story in this exquisite debut novel about a Chinese American family living in a small town in 1970s Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, 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' case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is certain the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest of the family, Hannah, who observes far more than anyone realizes - and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping pause-resister and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

©2014 Celeste Ng (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    2,903
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    2,970
  • 3 Stars
    1,618
  • 2 Stars
    427
  • 1 Stars
    168

Performance

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    1,013
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    230
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Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
    227
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jami
  • VICTOR, NY, United States
  • 10-30-14

Family Secrets Abound

Disclosure: I received this audiobook free through the Ford book club; there was no requirement to review this audiobook in exchange for the freebie.

This is the debut book by this author, and I really enjoyed it. The characters were well developed, and the family dynamics were well told from the perspectives of the various characters. I particularly enjoyed the parts about the dynamics of a Chinese man marrying a non-Asian woman and the effects of the bigotry that existed at the time they were married on the family relationships. I wasn't sure until the end what happened to Lydia, and I was surprised by the ending. I had my suspicions throughout the story, but I was completely wrong - which is a good thing, as the author didn't tip her hand.

I listened to this on audio, and enjoyed it but found that I had to pay very close attention as the characters' perspectives changed without much notice. Once in awhile, I had to try and remember what perspective we were in. The narrator was very good, but I wish there had been some changes to the different character's voices to help differentiate when the perspectives changed. This may be a better read in print if your mind tends to wander at times when listening to audio books. It is also a good book to discuss in a book club, as there are a lot of interesting questions that can be raised.

66 of 70 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Character Novel

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would with the caveat that this is not a plot driven novel although it revolves around the mysterious death of a teenage girl. It's a character driven novel that examines in minute detail, and with lovely language, the dynamics within a mixed race family of five. It's mostly about what happens when parents project their own failed aspirations onto their children.

What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

Cassandra is one of my favorite narrators. Her voice is buttery and smooth. I could listen to her recite the phonebook! Although other narrators have a more dramatic range hers is more subtle and highly effective.

88 of 95 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kristi R.
  • Milwaukie, OR, United States
  • 11-11-14

Amazon's Book of the Year!

This is not the kind of book I usually read, but as a member of the Ford Audiobook club I was given a copy.

The story revolves around a family that tragically fails to express their feelings and beliefs and when a horrible calamity ensues they are all tested beyond all boundaries.

We have James, the father, a Chinese American who just wants to fit in.

Marilyn, the mother, a woman who yearns for more than being a mother.

Nathan, the son, a disappointment to his father because James is reminded of himself.

Lydia, the cherished daughter, a blue eyed girl that both parent's pin all of their hopes on.

Hannah, the youngest, hiding in the shadows of a family that doesn't have room for anyone else.

Jack, the bad boy, neighbor fits into the story as the one that may have all the answers.

It's a beautifully, haunting story with a definite ending that some newer novels lack. At times, you find little love for these people that are operating at cross purposes, but in the end you come to love them all and mourn their tragedy with them.

I cried openly in the last two chapters and it was a catharsis cry that brings you to a feeling of promise and hope for a better day.

Hug your near and dear ones, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

72 of 80 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not my favorite narrator

This narr-A-TORrrr over-enunciates and dangles the endings of words like cat toys. I struggle to make it to the end of books with this narrator.

The story was good, but every time I paused it, it felt like Sadness from Inside Out had colored the rest of my day. Make sure you've got something upbeat to follow this with if you don't want to be melancholy all day.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 02-04-15

The Burden of Dreams

We know from the opening line of Everything I Never Told You that Emily, a high school student in Ohio in 1977, is dead. In the next ten-plus hours, the mystery behind her death unfolds. We learn many things about her immediate family -- her Chinese father, American mother, envious brother, little sister -- as well as her only friend, a potentially dangerous boy who lives next door.

This is not a murder mystery. This is a character study of a family, of each individual in that family. This is an exploration of family ties -- parents projecting the burden of their dreams on their children, children trying to live up to their parents' expectations of them, the sibling rivalries that result, the secrets and lies they try to protect themselves with, albeit futilely.

But it's more than that. Without ever hitting us over the head with the bigger picture, always staying within the lines of this particular family's dysfunction, first-time novelist Celeste Ng also tackles the subjects of gender roles and racial equality, loneliness and alienation. Yet it does so without the turbulence of the outside world intruding (quite the opposite of the similarly set and similarly themed Ice Storm) -- that's how turbulent this family's life has become.

This book's emotional punch is aimed straight at the solar plexus. It is not for the faint of heart. My wife couldn't take it -- it was too depressing for her. I found it to be pitch perfect. Especially since some of these same issues dogged my own family in the exact same ways -- assimilation, expectation, emotional manipulation, sublimation, isolation, favoritism and disapproval, and most of all the necessity of lying to keep your true feelings hidden (though for us there was no tragic ending).

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mary
  • Madison, WI, United States
  • 01-06-15

Sad and bleak with a totally implausible ending

This is a sad and bleak story of the price that narcissitic and poisonous parents exact on their children. There was was good writing and some good insights until the end. But it was so, so sad.

These parents care only for themselves. They supposedly care for each other, but neither gives even a single second's thought to what the other needs or wants.They care only for Lydia to the extent each parent believes she will live out their, impossibly conflicting, fantasies of the lives they wish they had had. They care for their two other children not at all. The story paints a bleak and believable picture of how it is as impossible to be the chosen child as it is to be the neglected ones. More so, because the neglected ones have a chance to escape, whereas the chosen one is doomed. The metaphor of the prehistoric fly trapped in amber is apt. The story marches, sadly, toward its seemingly inevitable end.

SPOILER ALERT. But the author must believe in magic. Because everyone, including the poor, dead girl, is transformed in the end---all in one one day, no less. However, the parents haven't really changed. Their "transformation" is just an opportunity to exercise more of their own self-absorption. There is not a moment's guilt for what they eventually, and implausibly, realize they did to Lydia, or for the price she paid for their now, supposedly, functional family, cleansed magically of its toxicity.

I give the story 2 stars, because I did care enough to read through and find out what happened. But I don't give it 3 because of the ridiculous and unbelievable ending.

I did not like the narrator at all. Her voice was fake: all smarmy and soothing and pregnant with feeling.

30 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Awful

I read this for a book club... I typically don't choose books that are depressing. This book is terrible. Every bad choice that can be made is made. I hope that this is not anyone's reality.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Amy
  • Pittsburgh, PA, United States
  • 12-12-15

Dated

And filled with cliches. Characters are one dimensional, therefore unbelievable. Narration is sappy, like the book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

BEYOND DYSFUNCTIONAL

This story is narrated beautfully. But, the story is very depressing. It tells of what NOT to do when parenting children. The couple have four beautiful children who are bi-racial. The mother, who is White, is married to an Asian college professor. She laments the fact that she gave up her hopes of becomming a doctor and had to settle for a life of domesticity. The father, drifts through life as if he has blinders on. Neither parent can fathom the unhappiness of their children. They live in a small town with small-minded people. The childen are pushed to 'fit in' and be popular. But, they are shunned and humiliated by their piers. Both parents focus all their love and attention on Lydia. She has the task of trying to fulfill her mother's hopes and dreams. Her life is filled with stress and fear of not being able to succeed. The other three siblings are ignored.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Slow, Slow and Slow

I hung in there for 4 hours (of a 10 hour story) and gave up. This author really drags this story out and goes over territory that has already been gone over. I was going to return this book and get my credit back but I had already returned several books because I could not get into them so I decided to just eat this one. I have noticed lately that a lot of authors seem to like to drag out a story instead of just get on with it. I think I probably need to stick with books that are around 8 hrs because those books don't usually ramble unnecessarily.

21 of 26 people found this review helpful