I needed a book to take on a trip to my hometown of Bowling Green, Ohio. I was heading out to help my mom pack up and move to a new apartment. I was also hoping to get together with friends I hadn't seen for decades. I rifled through my bookshelf looking for a paperback book that would be entertaining and picked out Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. It begins, "Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." Totally grabbed me.
Sometimes you find the perfect book at the exact moment you need to read it. And for me, Everything I Never Told You was that book. It's set in a small college town in northwestern Ohio in 1977. Bowling Green, where I grew up, is a small college town in northwestern Ohio and I graduated from high school in 1977. Celeste Ng captures that era perfectly - here is a town where everybody is pretty much the same and they all live their lives just trying to fit in. Reading this book took me back to my childhood - it made me appreciate some parts of growing up in a little college town but also reinforced the decision I made, oh so many years ago, to escape the homogeniety of small town life.
Everything I Never Told You is a completely engrossing, well-written, literary mystery. But it's more than that; it touches on themes such as the immigrant experience in the U.S., discrimination, the early days of women's equality. The main characters are a multi-racial Chinese American family. Each member of the family struggles with whether they want to fit in with societal norms or embrace their individuality. And it all happens within the messiness of family relationships and amidst everyone's flawed perceptions. Everything I Never Told You captures life. I’m glad I found this book.