Set in 1970s Ohio, Celeste Ng’s “Everything I Never Told You” delves inkhổng lồ the history of the Lees, a multiracial Chinese American family forced to come lớn terms with their past following the death of their 16-year-old daughter Lydia.

Bạn đang xem: Everything i never told you

Faced with uncertainties regarding the circumstances leading khổng lồ Lydia’s death, the family reaches baông xã inkhổng lồ the past as the novel oscillates between their memories và the present day. This split results in a subtle drama, which permeates the work — the reader is drawn to lớn the parallels between decisions past and present & picks up on the mundane details of each character’s life that, when pieced together, are catastrophic in their impact.

Ng crafts an understated, palpable tension. From teenage isolation to lớn actions bearing much graver consequences, each character faces various challenges, with their responses to lớn these troubles differing just as well.

None of Ng’s characters are wholly good or bad; rather, each is a complex portrait of a person living a life torn in two, perpetually caught in a cycle of befores and afters. She champions the notion that the little events in life can yield the biggest impacts, which her story is all the better for.

The prose is beautiful and the thoughts just as picturesque, but there is a violence to the words that is just as important. Throughout their lives, the Lees face racism, sexism, and a struggle to lớn belong in a world that rejects their existence. Being the only mixed-race family in their small Ohio town, the Lees, at a macro màn chơi, are a body isolated. As the reader moves through the text, however, the prejudices faced by each individual member are realized, adding understanding lớn the experiences felt within the greater whole.

Set just 10 years after the landmark Loving v. Virginia, the court case that legalized interracial marriage, Everything I Never Told Youis an honest picture of interracial familial life in a time still hostile to lớn its existence. The reader sees how the relationship between James, who is of Chinese descent, và Marilyn, who is Trắng, receives pushbaông xã from those around them — family, community members, & the lượt thích. While James struggles with disconnect from his own heritage and the systemic barriers that a predominantly trắng society places on hyên ổn, his children struggle khổng lồ find belonging in a society largely devoid of people to whom they can relate.

As local truyền thông media covers the events surrounding Lydia’s death, her racial identity is always a topic of discussion. Classmates, reporters, và law enforcement bolster the notion that Lydia’s mixed-race background isolated her from those around her, as if it represented a fundamental difference between her & her peers.

Xem thêm: Tụt Huyết Áp Khi Mang Thai, : Nguyên Nhân Và Cách Khắc Phục

Near the investigation’s conclusion, Marilyn & James have sầu a disagreement regarding the police’s actions: Marilyn raises the point that, if Lydia had been a white girl, those around her would have treated her death more seriously, và the entire tone regarding the incident would have sầu been markedly different. This moment is one of the story’s hardest lớn digest, because Marilyn’s statement rings true — Lydia’s Chinese background is what made her noticed in life, yet, tragically, ignored in death.

Today, the story of the Lees is especially important, not only for its messages on grief, understanding, & personal growth, but for the insight it may bring khổng lồ readerswho will never face the challenges và uncertainties of the characters who populate its plot.

Ng writes in such a way that, no matter what one’s background may be, the reader will discern universal elements. And as one finds identity within these elements, whatever they may be, there comes greater understanding of the stories lived by others, greater empathy.


By the time the last word comes & the story breathes its final breath, Ng’s characters feel so real và so tangible. In a profound sense, they are.

Cheông chồng out Celeste Ng’s “Everything I Never Told You” at Labyrinth Books here.

Xem thêm: Xem Bói Đặt Tên Con Theo Ngày Sinh Giúp Con Luôn HạNh Phúc!

This piece is part of Anti-Racist Reading Reviews, an ongoing series in which The Prospect features đánh giá of and reflections on anti-racist texts & truyền thông, as well as works by Blachồng writers. These works are drawn from, though not limited to, the Anti-Racist Reading List created by Lauren Johnson ’21 và Ashley Hodges ’21 & the USG Anti-Racism Book Initiative.