After a disappointing science fiction novel, about which I wrote last month, and a disappointing fantasy novel I didn’t bother to write about, I was again scanning my closed Amazon wish list for the next book. And so I came to read “Everything I Never Told You” which is the debut novel of Celeste Ng.
It’s what I sometimes call a “normal people problems” book. No lightsabers are used and no wizards appear out of thin air.
There is a family of five people: mother, father, son and two daughters. One of the daughters is found dead and the whole book revolves about the question why and how she died.
Through various flashbacks and inspections of the current situation from the viewpoints of each of the members of the family the problems that shaped the lives of the individuals and the family in its entirety are revealed.
At first it all seems to be rather mundane and a standard case of unfulfilled dreams and feelings of inferiority of the parents which they long for their children to implement and overcome. But it’s much deeper than that and the consequences are way more disturbing.
Ng succeeded to change my attitude from “Why did they recommend this book?” during the first pages through “That might be a good source for a drama movie.” to finally “So that’s how life sometimes plays. You die shortly after you realize what you can change to actually reach happiness.”
Congratulations to Celeste Ng for a great first novel. If you like to read touching stories with a good portion of tragedy, I recommend this one to you. If you are a parent and have specific ideas about the future of your child, I even urge you to read it.