My rating: (5 / 5)
I finished this book, and basically…
This is an excellent book, but it is extremely emotionally taxing.
Everything I Never Told You is the story of a family recovering from a tragic loss. It moves back and forth in time, so that you can experience what led up to the tragedy, and fall through the canyons of grief alongside them afterwards.
One day, Lydia walked to the lake next to the family house. She unmoored the rowboat from the dock and rowed out into the center. She vanished.
“There is nowhere to go but on. Still, part of her longs to go back for one instant—not to change anything, not even to speak to Lydia, not to tell her anything at all. Just to open the door and see her daughter there, asleep, one more time, and know all was well.”
Something has happened that should never happen. A family lost a child. She was a teenager, on the brink of a brilliant life. Or, maybe not so brilliant. She was exactly who her mother dreamed of being herself as a teenager. Or, maybe not so much. She was her father’s popular golden child. Or, she wasn’t. She was her brother’s keeper, nagger, responsibility. Or, maybe she didn’t want to be. Lydia was the middle child of three, All-American mother, Chinese father, suburban middle-class household during an era of changing times in the United States. And this book is as much about the struggle to be yourself and to not be drawn into the roles expected of you as it is about loss and grief.
“How had it begun? Like everything: with mothers and fathers. Because of Lydia’s mother and father, because of her mother’s and father’s mothers and fathers.”
This book is beautifully written. I can’t possibly say enough about the incredible, lyrical prose. It is heart-wrenching in places, it is so lovely. The simplest of moments are so eloquently expressed.
“Morning sun fills the house, creamy as lemon chiffon, lighting the insides of cupboards and empty closets and clean, bare floors.”
Beyond that, the characters are amazing, and honest, and raw, and real. Their journey is so personal, yet so universal. The struggles to fit in, to be accepted, to please your parents, to honor your family, to have someone to understand you, to be yourself. Every single person in this book is struggling with the same issues in completely different ways.
This book is a gorgeous work of art. It’s emotional. It made me cry. It made me very angry. It made me smile. I even laughed a time or two, when I wasn’t busy swooning over the amazing writing. It touched me in a way few books have, and will forever be one of my favourites.
Oh, Lydia. I wish I could have been your friend.