Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is a book I’ve been meaning to read since reading Little Fires Everywhere by the same author at the start of 2018. It took me almost a year to finally buy this book. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.
This book is about the Lees, a Chinese American family living in a small Ohio town in the 1970s. The dad, James, is a Chinese American college professor who marries Marilyn, a white girl with ambitions of becoming a doctor. Getting pregnant with their first child halts Marilyn’s ambitions. They go on to have three children: Nath, Lydia and Hannah.
I started 2018 reading Little Fires Everywhereby Celeste Ng. I had heard great things about this book so was very happy to get this as a Christmas gift from my husband. I am on a great reading roll at the moment and this makes the third book in a row that I have devoured.
At first I thought this was going to be a hard book to get into, but I dived into this without any effort and was sustained by a cast of interesting characters and a riveting plot that delved into the lives of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots,’ the conformers and the free spirits.
Set during the time of Clinton’s presidency in Shaker Heights, Cleveland, a meticulously planned town, it follows the lives of the golden Richardson family consisting of two parents and four teenagers. Into their lives comes Mia Warren and her teenager daughter, Pearl, who rent a house from the Richardsons.
Mia is a struggling artist who moves from place to place and doesn’t like to be tied down. She has a mysterious past and I was pleasantly surprised when the story of her past was revealed. She is the opposite of Mrs Elena Richardson who was born and bred in Shaker Heights and likes everyone and everything to be in its place.
LittleFiresEverywhere is a story about teenagers, mothers, families, parenting, art, race, class, creativity and love, told from many perspectives. There’s also a court case woven into the story that will have you debating both sides as an affluent couple who can’t have a child of their own adopt an abandoned Chinese baby, only to have the birth mother come into their lives after a year and want her baby back. I couldn’t help but cheer at the outcome of this part of the plot, even though I felt for the other side.
I’ve never read any books by Celeste Ng before but I definitely will in the future. I can see why this book was the 2017 Winner of Best Fiction in the goodreads choice awards. If you haven’t already read it and you like quality fiction, give this a read.
Verdict: An absolutely compelling book worth a read.