I listened to this book as an audible. It was narrated by Cassandra Campbell. I think I should probably start designating whether I “read” a book or “listen”. Listening to books while I drive makes the drive so much more endurable. Cassandra did an excellent job on the narration, even in simulating the male voices.
Wow! Wow! And Seriously, Wow! “Everything I Never Told You” has to be one of the best and most profound books I can remember reading. The book begins Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. . . .
Lydia’s body is found in the local lake. The story is told through the voices of Lydia, her family and Jack, the neighbor boy. Its told through many time shifts, from when her Chinese father met and married her American mother. The isolation and rejection her father faced as a Chinese man in the US at that time. Her mother, raised by a Home Ec teacher who tried to make her daughter into the perfect domestic partner for her future husband, but would up with one that excelled in the sciences. Who vowed she was going to be a doctor, not a wife. That is, until she met James. And when she has Lydia, she pours herself into trying to make her into the doctor she couldn’t be.
Jack, the one outsider in the story, is at a time, suspected of foul play with the drowning of Lydia. Or at the very least, corrupting her in some way that led to her death. Though he doesn’t have his own voice in the story, you learn about him through the eyes of everyone else, and each of them see him from a different perspective.
What makes this book so profound is not the story itself, but the way it is told and the beauty of the prose in its pages. Celeste takes you deep into the hearts and minds of each of the family members and you see a trace of the unspoken reality of who they really are, so very different from whom they are perceived to be. She lays bare how people so misunderstand each other, how all seem to mirror their own fears and biases into interpreting the motives and personalities of others. You walk away reevaluating your perception of the people in your life, how often are you guilty of those very same misconceptions?
She had me in tears as the book neared its end. Not for Lydia, but for the people and family she left behind who had been exposed to their barest bones by the time she was done. We are all of us somewhere in those pages, in at least one, if not more of the characters. The tears are for the lack of sympathy we had because we didn’t see the real truth, but only the surface or a single face of another. And the tears are for knowing that others look at us with the same blindness, seeing our motives, our deeds through the colored glasses of their experience. The tears are from realizing how little we know each other, even the ones we claim to know the best.
I was stunned when I realized this was Celeste’s first book! If this is any indicator, I will be waiting with bated breath for any and every new book she follows with. Read her, breathe in her words, let them settle in deep. Her words are a tonic for the soul and the heart.
January 31, 2017