For April, we read a book that had good and bad reviews, but decided we would take the chance and give it the benefit of the doubt. We read Celeste Ng’s book Everything I Never Told You: A Novel. The story centers around a Chinese American family in Ohio in the 1970’s. When the middle daughter, Lydia, is found dead of a suspected suicide in the nearby lake, we go back to find out more about her parents, their childhoods, how they meet and got married. The social values of the time, where they live and the cultural differences of these two people and their families plays a big role in the novel. The pressures to succeed and fit in, especially in a small town where being of mixed race is not the norm. The story comes to present day and how the family dynamics plays out. I don’t want to spoil the tale if you plan on picking up a copy.
I wanted to like it and I pushed on even when the going was rough. About two thirds of the way through, the back and forth from character to character got tedious and I just wanted to get to the end. I finished the book and was left disappointed by the whole experience. Our book club felt the same and we agreed it was not a favorite. We did have a healthy discussion about the pressure to succeed and follow a path that might not be yours and how hard it must be to live in a place where you feel you do not fit in. To that end, it was a thought provoking book worth a second look. I would rate it a 3 out of 5 stars.