Being an Interracial Family in 1977
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This book opens with the disappearance and death of 16 year old Lydia Lee. The year is 1977. I almost quit reading right there on page one as I am adverse to stories of kids dying. But I am glad I read this story because it is so masterfully written. The author takes us inside the heads of all the main characters so that we can know exactly how this tragedy occurred.
Thus we learn that Lydia is the middle child of James and Marilyn, a biracial couple. He is Chinese-American and she is Caucasian. James has always wanted to blend in with others while Marilyn has wanted to stand out. Indeed these urges helped the couple to bond when they met, each the other’s ticket to those very goals. But then racial prejudice thwarts James from reaching his larger goals and two children (and then a third) thwart Marilyn’s large plans as well. The interracial element works against the whole family in many ways though they refuse to notice it or acknowledge it. Often things are felt but not expressed giving us the title of the book, Everything I Never Told a You. Through all of this there is a lot of misunderstanding, coping, and settling leading us right up to the cause of Lydia’s death.
What I liked most about this book is how carefully the author explores what it is like to be an interracial family in 1977. That element of the novel was NOT told in shorthand but instead was fully developed. Nice job, Celeste Ng!
Other books I have reviewed by Celeste Ng: