Celeste Ng provides everything for young adults in Everything I Never Told You


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Celeste Ng has written another book.

By: Emily Spillar, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Everything I Never Told You is an American thriller, which is also the debut novel for Celeste Ng. Taking place in a 1977 small town in Ohio, the Lee family faces a tragedy they would never imagine.


Lydia (Lee) is the favorite child, and when she doesn’t come down for breakfast one morning all they think is that she overslept. Marilyn Lee, Lydia’s mom, goes up to check on Lydia. Realizing she’s missing, she becomes anxious. Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, either a murder or suicide act causing her to drown. Lydia was the one thing keeping the Lee family in tact. The Lees’ now have to figure out how to pick themselves up from this tragedy.

The novel jumps back and forth in time. When it goes back to Marilyns college life, we catch a glimpse of what her young life was like. It’s Marilyn’s first year at Radcliffe (the womens school of Harvard). She instantly catches the eye of a graduate student, James Lee. This student is a teachers assistant in Marilyn’s “The Cowboy in American Culture” course. Only after the first lecture is when Marilyn went and kissed James during his office hours. Soon after, Marilyn and James form a relationship. Months later, during the spring, Marilyn finds out she’s pregnant and they marry quickly. Even though the two are happy, Doris, Marilyn’s mother, is not and doesn’t speak to her again.

The novel continues to jump back and forth in time and we see a strain tearing apart the Lee family. Marilyn and James’ marriage is falling apart, due to the affair that is happening between James and Louisa. The family is trying to cope with the death of an important part of their family, but things are getting harder and harder for them. In the last two chapters, first, we see what happened moments before Lydia’s death. Before she jumps in the water, she thinks to herself, “it’ll be alright.” Then, in the final chapter, things are starting to resolve. James and Marilyn are trying to work out their differences, Nath finally confronts Jack, and they’re finally realizing that things will get better.


This novel shows a family coping through a major loss and trauma. Throughout the story, readers see a bunch of different plots and storylines. Reading how the Lee’s try to handle this loss is truly heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. It provides sensitive topics, family drama, and love throughout the whole novel. Ng wrote a mysterious, chilling drama that would touch the hearts of all who read.

Everything I Never Told You is a perfect read for young adults. I think most young adults would appreciate the story. From the drama to the romantics to family life, it was a good read for me (a young adult). The character development in this story is great and would be a perfect example for students. Each event affected each character differently and helped shape them.

Ng structured the novel so readers would get a view of all the characters lives. Although this constant switching did get too much at times. The novel would go from the heartbreaking loss to Marilyn Lee’s college life. It shows a timeline of the family struggling through different challenges. Especially, Marilyn Lee, being a woman hoping to succeed in a world of men.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars!