Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (298 pages)
In a nutshell, this is the story of a Chinese-American family living in small-town Ohio in the 70s. When the middle child drowns mysteriously in a nearby lake, that tragedy is but the tip of the iceberg for what is to come. One begins to realize that ‘family’ is a term used very loosely in this case, as no one has a clue about the inner world of the others living in the same house. Cross purposes doesn’t begin to describe their daily dance, from the self-absorbed parents who see their kids as a means to fulfilling their own lost dreams, to the brother who feels responsible for his sister’s death, and the neglected little girl who spends her life hiding under furniture. And just when you think the anguish has reached rock bottom, it takes a turn for the worse. It wasn’t a stretch to conclude that the dead girl was the lucky one, having finally escaped the suffocating atmosphere at home. For some of us, the tortured state of being these people endured was as disturbing as the psycho ramblings of a serial thrill killer. Kudos to the author for having the skills to provoke such powerful emotions.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
This book got rave reviews when it came out in 2014. Exquisitely written, well-developed characters, even if somewhat unlikeable, and a gripping story are all elements of a hit, which doesn’t necessarily make it a must read for everyone. Do so at your peril if you come from a dysfunctional family, for it may very well trigger all of your ‘stuff’ and send you screaming to a shrink.
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Laura Vincent recently settled into retirement, doing a bit of writing, a lot of service and smelling the roses along the way. A plan is afoot to explore Europe on a Eurail Pass – one last great hurrah so to speak.
Favourite book: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Favourite brunch spot: Rocco Restaurant & Bar