Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet... So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue - in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James's case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest of the family - Hannah - who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.
A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
Everything I Never Told You
Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast. As always, next to her cereal bowl, her mother has placed a sharpened pencil and Lydia's physics homework, six problems flagged with small ticks. Driving to work, Lydia's father nudges the dial toward WXKP, Northwest Ohio's Best News Source, vexed by the crackles of static. On the stairs, Lydia's brother yawns, still twined in the tail end of his dream. And in her chair in the corner of the kitchen, Lydia's sister hunches moon-eyed over her cornflakes, sucking them to pieces one by one, waiting for Lydia to appear. It's she who says, at last, "Lydia's taking a long time today."
Upstairs, Marilyn opens her daughter's door and sees the bed unslept in: neat hospital corners still pleated beneath the comforter, pillow still fluffed and convex. ...
The overall tone is elegiac as the author seamlessly weaves past and present, going back in time decades before Lydia's birth to uncover the factors in her parents' lives which ultimately contribute to Lydia's demise. Ng's prose is exceptionally perceptive; she realistically conveys her characters' inner motivations, dreams and disappointments, providing a rich understanding of what has brought them all to this particular juncture.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1147 words).
According to the 2010 census, the number of mixed-race and mixed-ethnic couples in America grew by 28% from 2000 to 2010. At one time marrying outside one's race was considered, at best, controversial, but a 2007 Gallup poll cites 78% of Americans as approving of the practice. Such levels of acceptance were not always apparent, however, with state anti-miscegenation laws remaining on the books as late as 2000.
The term miscegenation, meaning the interbreeding of different racial types (irrespective of marriage status), was first coined by the American press in the 1860s, in articles countering the abolition of slavery. The implication was that a huge population boom of mixed-race children would occur without laws prohibiting the races ...
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