Everything I Never Told You Book Review

Book Review by Dinh.

3 stars out of 5



“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.”

This is the first line of the book.

This is a novel about the Chinese American family, James and Marilyn Lee, their daughters Lydia and Hannah, and their son Nathan.

The story is set in 1970s in a small town in Ohio. The father James is Chinese and a professor at the university. The mother Marilyn is Caucasian and a housewife.

Lydia is the middle daughter and is the favorite child. Both parents want to live their dreams through Lydia – James wanting her to be popular and Marilyn wanting her to be a doctor.

Nathan and Hannah are largely ignored and vie to get their parents attention.

At the death of Lydia, their family union begins to unravel and the truth about Lydia comes to the forefront. Marilyn is determined to find the person responsible for Lydia’s death. James handles her death by acting recklessly. Nathan is believes that Jack, a boy Lydia was hanging out with is responsible.

Everything I Never Told You Book Review


The first line of the book was a good hook, however the hook did not last long and began to fade after the initial chapter.

Overall, I was disappointed in Everything I Never Told You, the debut novel by Celeste Ng. I had expected more of a riveting read but alas it was not so. Rather, it was a slow and bordering on a boring read.

Undelivered Promise:

The book had a outlook of a good book- an interesting story line, with themes such as family, jealousy between siblings, love, lies, secrets, and interracial marriage, but some how I didn’t click with the book. The execution failed here.

The other interesting aspects looked at inter-racial marriage  in the 1970s, and the tension that can be brought about in a family as a result of the societal pressures sounded interesting, but in the book it was not delivered in a convincing way. Ms. Ng could have explored and gone into more details of the cultural times.


I was hoping it to be a touching pager turner but I did not find this book a page turner and found it okay to read. Celeste Ng does write well and her style is light.

I did not feel invested in the book in any way shape or form.

What I didn’t like was that it was slow and I didn’t get into the book until towards the end. For a book with only 292 pages in the hardcover, you may have wanted it to pull you in long before that.

The only thing that kept me going was what happened to Lydia.

I wanted to know what happened to Lydia and why she died. I found out the why, and how, but after finding out why it was anti-climatic, especially when the buildup was so slow. Whilst I understand that this is not a thriller, I felt that it did not pull me like it should have done. Instead, I wanted to end sooner because it was dull.

And why not?

Hollow Characters:

The characters were hollow. There wasn’t a person in the book I could relate to or felt connected to. The characters were one dimensional and not compelling.

The book tried to explain each character’s personality and how  they dealt with the death of a family member but in doing so it lost sight of the character development.


My Final Thoughts:

Overall, I found this book okay to read but it was bordering on dull to read if there hadn’t been the why or how did Lydia died in the story line. The ending was unsatisfying as well. If you are looking for a riveting or compelling book to read, this is not it.


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18 thoughts on “Everything I Never Told You Book Review

  1. The title of this book and the first line really makes it seem like it will be a good read. It had my curiosity peaked so it is disappointing to hear it didn’t really live up to what you would be expecting. Good review. It would be nice if it was a faster pace and built out the characters more so you could relate. It doesn’t seem to long of a book so might be still an option if I need something fast 🙂

    1. Hi Summerly!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      The title and the hook at the beginning did catch my attention and raised my expectation but the follow through was not there.
      The book was not that great so even with 292 pages it may take you some time to read it. I would prefer to get a book that you would like to read and get engrossed so you will end up reading it fast anyway.
      This book is not fast paced either.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I truly appreciate your honesty, Dinh. Not all books are page-turners and one might expect that from a review site that the commentary be ever-positive and perhaps slightly slanted. Your summary had me raise an eyebrow of interest, but it was lowered as I moved into your review. While opinions are subjective, I trust what you’ve written previously and your unbiased and honest feedback speaks volumes and resonates with me. I’ve bookmarked your site for future recommendations and look forward to your future posts! Keep doing what you do!!

    1. Hi Mike!
      Thanks for your positive remarks.

      I am not here to promote any of the books so I will tell you how it is. I am a frank person; not only in my reviews, but in life in general. It makes things so much easier.

      Thanks for your trust in my judgement!

      Talk to you soon. 🙂

    1. Hi Alicia!
      You win some you lose some. Good thing there are so many books to read! At least the book had a good start- some are just boring and I can’t even read the book.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head with character development. I have not read this book yet, but in general I have found that sometimes authors focus so much on explaining the personality rather than showing us the personality through actions and plot. I love to be in the head of a character, but I like even more to be surprised by something that the character did and then come to the realization that something in their past or nature drove them to that action. This is a great review, and I will probably avoid this book. Thanks again, Dinh!

    1. Hi Sam!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      I like book where you can get into the characters and connect with them whether you like them or not. This book didn’t do it for me.
      Everything I Never Told You did get good reviews from some people and it did get some awards but I really didn’t understand why.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. What? Lydia died? Hahaha. I’m just teasing, since this is no spoiler with it being the hook you’d mentioned. I’m surprised, and glad, you tried a YA book. Wished it had more meaningful characters and better execution. I hope this doesn’t turn you off from all YA; some are so good. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Dinh!

    1. Hi Lonna!
      Thanks for your comments.

      I didn’t know that this book was Young Adult book. The book had the whole family’s perspective so I wouldn’t have classified it as YA.Huh, I guess I should have checked that.

      I am not at all put off YA anyhow. I love reading YA books. I have several on my TBR list that I want to get to.

      Thanks for stopping by;always a pleasure having you here!

  5. Hi Dinh, thanks for this book review. I haven’t read” Everything I Never Told You” yet but I’m planning to do so. I heard about all the good reviews and awards this book got. This novel won the Amazon Book of the Year Award in 2014 beating out works by even Stephen King. And this is only one of many awards it received. I’m curious now. I will read it and let you know what I think soon.

    1. Hi Elektra!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      I’d be interested in hearing your opinion after you read the book. I did see that it won the Amazon Book of the Year Award and other awards. As for Stephen King, I am not a fan of his writing and have not been able to read any of his books. I know he is very popular but I can’t get beyond his style of writing. Perhaps it’s time for me to try one of his books again.

      I am glad I didn’t put you off this book. Some people have loved it, but I’m not one of them.

      Looking forward to hearing from you again!

  6. I enjoyed your review and found it informative.
    I hate it when books have promise but then sputter out during the read.
    I usually stop reading if the book doesn’t capture me by chapter 3.
    Sometimes even my favorite authors will come out with a book I can’t get into.

    1. Hi Michelle!
      Thanks for your comments.
      I use to stop and not read the book if it doesn’t get my attention. I think that’s the reason why I didn’t read for such a long time. I kept getting bad books! Nowadays, I use a better recommendation system and I tend to give a book a chance now.

      Some books just take too long to get moving and then gets good at the end. This was not the case for Everything I Never Told You. It took too long and then the ending was a disappointment.

      Even favorite authors can get it wrong sometimes. It’s hard to produce a good book consistently over a period of time. I am try to think of an author that I liked all their books….

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I’ve never read nor heard of this book before. You just saved me from reading yet another boring book. I loathe it when a book holds potential and promise in the beginning only to disappoint. Thanks for the honest review!

    1. Hi Yvonne!
      This a debut novel by Celeste Ng. She has won some awards and there was some buzz that this book was good so I took the chance and read it. It’s all hype.
      The book is not that good at all and I only finished it just to see what the ending would be. The ending was a disappointment!
      Some books have a good promise but fail to deliver…

      Thanks for stopping by at Arlene’s Book Club!

    1. Hi Oliver!
      Thanks for your comments.

      The story had promise at the beginning but it didn’t pan out.
      The execution was not done right and I found it dull.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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