Everything I Never Told You, By Celeste Ng


An art print inspired by Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng could feature the evocative image of waves crashing into a beach. The turbulent waves symbolize the Lee family’s complex emotions and hidden secrets, mirroring the novel’s themes of cultural identity, familial expectations, and loss.

The serene yet powerful ocean contrasts with the underlying turmoil of the characters’ lives, creating a visual metaphor for the struggles and unspoken truths that shape their world. The muted color palette and fluid lines capture the novel’s poignant, introspective tone, making the artwork a thoughtful homage to Ng’s profound storytelling.

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A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is a gripping page-turner. It uncovers how mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle to understand one another throughout their lives.

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is Marilyn and James Lee’s favorite child, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they could not pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

Why you should read this book?

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng is a compelling and thought-provoking novel. It explores themes like family dynamics, identity, and societal pressures in a comprehensive manner. Here are several reasons why you should consider reading it:

  • Engaging and Emotional Storyline: The novel centers on Lydia Lee’s mysterious death in the 1970s. She was the beloved middle child of a Chinese-American family. As the family struggles to cope with the loss, secrets and long-standing issues are revealed. The result? An emotionally gripping narrative that keeps readers invested.
  • Complex Characters: Ng crafts multifaceted characters, each with their struggles and perspectives. The Lees are a diverse family dealing with race, identity, and societal expectations. Each character’s journey is poignantly depicted, allowing readers to understand their motivations and conflicts.
  • Exploration of Identity and Belonging: The novel delves deeply into themes of identity. In particular, it discusses the experiences of being part of a minority group in America. It addresses the challenges of cultural assimilation and the pressure to conform to societal norms.
  • Insight into Family Dynamics: Ng’s portrayal of the Lee family offers a detailed examination of the complexities of familial relationships. The novel explores parental expectations, sibling rivalries, and the impact of unspoken tensions, offering readers a realistic and relatable depiction of family life.
  • Critical Acclaim and Recognition: This book has received widespread acclaim, winning several awards. These included the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. It has been praised for its insightful storytelling and powerful themes, solidifying Ng’s reputation as a significant contemporary author.
  • Relevance to Contemporary Issues: Although set in the 1970s, the novel’s themes of race, identity, and familial expectations remain highly relevant today.
Who is Celeste Ng?

Celeste Ng is an American author known for her critically acclaimed novels and short stories. Her stories mainly explore family dynamics, identity, and cultural tensions. Born on July 30, 1980, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ng grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. This setting has significantly influenced her writing. She attended Harvard University, earning her English degree there. Later, she obtained a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from the University of Michigan.

Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You (2014), received widespread acclaim and won several awards, including the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere (2017), explores the intertwined lives of two families in the progressive suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Ng’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and have resonated with readers worldwide for their insightful and empathetic storytelling. Celeste Ng is celebrated for her ability to weave intricate stories that tackle important social issues, making her a significant voice in contemporary American literature.

Other details

Published on June 26, 2014 by Penguin Press
Language: English, which was later translated into numerous languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, and Russian.
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Fiction


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