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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Review: Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng

Initially, I thought Everything I Never Told You was going to be just another one of those complicated family dramas that have become so popular lately. You know, some sort of tragedy occurs, usually involving the death, kidnapping, or disappearance of a child, and the family dissolves. I've read quite a few of these now, and I'm beginning to tire of them. There's nothing wrong with these stories, I'm just ready to move on.

 

Everything I Never Told You did end up being another one of these family tragedies, but it was different. Toward the middle of the story, I sensed this one wouldn't disappoint me. And as I reached the end, I was thoroughly surprised. The way the author handled the story and its characters was beautiful and unique. Despite the tragedy and the consequences, I felt hope for these people I'd grown to care for. It was all orchestrated so brilliantly—one character wants to be seen, another doesn't, one wants one path, another a very different path—and when it comes together what you have is a giant web which lacks empathy and listening. It's so true to life. Everything I Never Told You serves as an excellent reminder of not only what is important in life, but how what's important for each of us can be so different.

 

I think it's significant that the character who meant the most to me in the end was the one who was almost nonexistent: Hannah. I almost forgot she was there until I was reminded of her existence, and that was a brilliant play by Ng as well.

 

Everything I Never Told You is a heartfelt debut, but it is also very intelligently written. It is a tightly woven novel and clearly shows its author's knowledge of the craft and dedication to the story.