Review of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Review: 4 out of 5 stars
This is a book with big social ambitions captured in a small, intimate story. The narrative starts with the mystery of a dead daughter, but it unwinds itself around the story of a family who must deal with the impact of discrimination and the fallout of broken dreams.
The language is lovely; the themes are complex and deep. Characters are strong, individual, and full of authentic motivations and issues. But the best aspect for me is the flow of the plot: the story itself changes and evolves with its deft narrative style. With the way this book tackles difficult social issues with complex characters and a quick-reading plot, I think this book would be the perfect book for a high school English class!
For an example of the lovely writing and strong social issues this book tackles, I’m choosing an excerpt from pg. 41: “In Chinatown, the lives of all those paper sons were fragile and easily torn. Everyone’s name was false. Everyone hoped not to be found out and sent back. Everyone clustered together so they wouldn’t stand out.”
I’m docking one point in my review because I didn’t feel like I would get much out of reading this book again. While the issues are complex, the plot isn’t. The characters are fleshed out but not complex enough to offer something more on a deeper read. This has the feel of a one-trick book (although its one trick is a very good trick.)
I would strongly recommend this book as a quick read or as a wonderful book to bring into a classroom. I give this a moderate recommendation to book clubs.