As the Lee family sits down for breakfast one morning in their small Ohio town, they learn their teenage daughter is dead. Was it suicide? An accident? Or did the neighbor boy have something to do with it?
Celeste Ng’s debut novel, “Everything I Never Told You” takes a familiar tale in literature: a dead girl, a bad boy, a lake, a family with secrets and gives her audience an inspired story set during an era when interracial marriages were newly legal.
Lydia Lee is a Chinese-American teenage girl in 1977. On the surface, she appears to be the studious, academically driven daughter of her Asian-American college professor father and her Caucasian housewife mother. As the police investigate Lydia’s death and her family struggles to deal with this sudden loss, Ng gradually reveals all is not as it seems. Shifting between the present mystery of Lydia’s death and the past events leading up to this tragedy, Ng pulls the curtain back on this family and reveals long-held resentments, miscommunications, and struggle for identity.
Ng’s novel is a beautifully crafted story but not quite as tightly crafted as it could be. One particular plot point is resolved a little too neatly but this is a small issue in an overall riveting story.