Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You brought me back to a type of reading I haven’t been able to do in a long time: I devoured this thing. In high school I probably would have finished this in a day and a half (I never said I had a life). This week, amidst class readings and work shifts and meetings, I crammed this in in three days—it’s that good.
The opening line, “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet,” establishes the fine line that Ng’s story traces throughout, that between bare honesty and concealment. The reader is often in a place in which we know everything, yet nothing at all; even after the “reveal” at the end, I felt like I was still trying to decipher more about Lydia and her family. They become real enough that I knew there were more nooks and crannies to be explored.
Ng’s prose is masterful in its efficiency; though this book is small, it is mighty. She does not waste a single word of this text, there is no fluff to sift through. The internal workings of each character flow beautifully into the puzzle of the family, and Ng’s most powerful moments are often the most subtle. Repeatedly, at a tiny observation or particular wording, I would have to sit back and simply say “…oh” as I registered the emotional impact.
Would highly recommend to all readers of contemporary realistic fiction.