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Check It Out: Everything I Never Told You

Each year, the American Library Association recognizes 10 outstanding adult books that provide teens with an introduction to adult literature.  Today, I am recommending a 2015 award-winning novel, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

This mesmerizing debut novel begins with the drowning death of 16 year-old Lydia Lee--the middle and favorite child of James and Marilyn Lee. One spring morning in 1977, Lydia fails to show up for breakfast.  We know that she has drowned in a nearby lake, but her family doesn’t.

Lydia’s father, James, is an American-born son of Chinese immigrants.  James has a PhD from Harvard, and teaches at a small college in suburban Ohio, but he has always struggled to fit in.  Lydia’s mother Marilyn is from a conservative family in Virginia.   She disregards her own mother’s wishes in marrying James, and gives up her dreams of becoming a doctor when she becomes a mother to Nath, the oldest of the Lee children.  It is through Lydia that both James and Marilyn hope to see their very different dreams realized.  As the story unfolds, the Lee family begins to unravel in unexpected ways as they realize how very little they knew about Lydia’s life.

The author creates a compelling and moving story in exposing the Lee family’s secrets. Weighted by the issues of race and gender, these explosive truths are slowly exposed through the dynamic of this family’s tragedy.  Ng’s writing is precise and sensitive.  Lydia’s character is richly drawn, and heartbreakingly real.  This emotionally complex novel will have leave you thinking about this family long after the final secrets surface.

Stop by the Sioux City Public Library to check out Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng--or let our staff help you find other award-winning titles.  

Support for Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers.

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