Tag Archives: Celeste Ng

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (3/5)

13 Oct

If you’ve never heard of the Ford Audiobook Club on Goodreads, I highly recommend you check them out. For a while, they were giving away copies of an audiobook once per month to host discussions on their forums. I downloaded two books this way that I’ve been saving as ‘in between’ audiobooks. The first was Edan Lepucki’s California and the second was Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Yes, this one was much better.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Summary from Goodreads:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

My faith in Ford Audiobook Club has been restored! I enjoyed this book more than I expected with the low precedent set before this. Lydia was a character I related to a lot. I think a lot of us feel pressured to follow in our parents footsteps one way or another. Maybe it’s marriage or children, a career, a school, a job, sports achievement, or something completely different. Parents want their children to achieve as high as they did if not higher and some push their children too much, like Marilyn. Even if we haven’t experienced it, we’ve seen it or heard about it. I liked the setting and characters as well, they made for a unique set of characters in a book. The only thing that bothered me was the time hoping, it happened too seamlessly.

I thought the three children were well done. We have Lydia, the one living out her mother’s dream who doesn’t know what she wants for herself. I liked that Lydia wasn’t the oldest, that was a nice touch for me. I liked her rebellion and how we learn a bit about it in the present before it’s visited in the past. Nath was a great character to me, probably my favorite. I liked that he craved some attention and pitied Lydia for all the attention she got. Hannah seemed like a natural companion to these two, the one who watches everything and knows what’s going on without being in the way. I liked how she sneaked around.

My favorite character is a toss-up between Nath and Jack, which seems very fitting. I thought Nath was a great brother and that made me like him. He knew a lot about what his sister was doing and only interfered when he thought she was in danger. He never said anything about her fake phone calls, but when it came to a guy with a shady past, he was all over that. I liked Jack because he was so different from what we thought of him initially. I liked the flashback story about him and Nath playing Marco Polo. I thought from then that he couldn’t be so bad. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but I thought the end of Jack’s storyline was amazing! Really great.

I’m very fortunate that my parents didn’t pressure me much to follow in their footsteps growing up. Both of them were engineers who went to a small engineering school and didn’t play sports past high school. The only thing I ever felt they expected of me was scholastic success and that wasn’t hard for me. But I had friends who were less fortunate. I have a friend whose academic achievements were overlooked by his parents in favor of his sibling’s athleticism. I had friends who went pre-med to appease parents when they wanted to study the arts. And I’ve seen a number of people go to college after high school to appease parents when that’s not a good path for them. I think Lydia’s struggle is universal and setting it in 1970s Ohio was a nice touch.

Celeste Ng Image via Twitter

Celeste Ng
Image via Twitter

As I said, I liked Jack’s storyline best. I thought he developed in the eyes of the narrators and I liked that. He went from rough lady-killer to a friend to something very different. He had complicated relationships with more than one main player and I liked how his mother being a doctor worked into the plot. Overall, he was well-integrated and a very pivotal side character.

I was a little disappointed with the end of Lydia’s story. That is, the story she tells on the night of her death. I wanted more, either a stronger reason it happened or more about the experience of dying itself. I know that sounds grim and vague and I’ll agree that it’s grim, but I’m trying not to give the ending away!

The past/present blend in this book didn’t work for me. I’d get confused when the author crossed over between the two because I felt the lines between them were blurry. I would have liked a stronger distinction between the time before Lydia’s death and after she’d passed. Especially in Nath’s story, I found it hard to distinguish.

The audiobook I received was narrated by Cassandra Campbell who also worked on Gone Girl. I’m a fan of her narration because you don’t notice it. She does a good job of telling the story in a way that’s not distracting from the words she’s reading. There are no accents and her inflection falls where I would put stress were I reading the book. I might have to start searching for books by her.

Though part of our personalities is indubitably based on our upbringing, not all of a person is determined by nurture. If that were true, I’d be an engineer and would think triathlons were ridiculous pursuits. It’s hard to recognize the differences between ourselves and those that are supposed to be most like us. I’m glad my parents didn’t try to make me into a copy of themselves and I hope I can do the same for my children.

Writer’s Takeaway: There’s been a big push to ‘write diversely’ lately. We are a world of diverse people yet a lot of characters seem to be cookie-cutter versions of what the ideal American looks like. I thought she mixed races, sexuality, and socioeconomic status well in her book. It was a good example of how a book can have diverse characters without feeling forced. I struggle with this in my 1920s novel and I’m looking for ways to make my characters less uniform. I had a good lesson right here.

Good and enjoyable. I was hoping for a bit more action, though. Three out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng | Bookwanderer
Coven Reads Discussion: Everything I Never Told You | Coven Book Club
On Bearing Secrets: A Review of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You | Fourth and Sycamore

WWW Wednesday, 7-October-2015

7 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Made in AmericaCurrently reading:  I’ve been picking at Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It’s renewed again and I’ll keep working on it, but I’m still not engaged. I think I’m close to this magical event in the middle that everyone says will blow my mind, but I’m not there yet. I hope it happens?
I don’t even have I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai checked out anymore. I should probably take it off this list.
I’m working my way through The Samurai’s Garden by Gayle Tsukiyama. I’m about a third of the way through it and I’m enjoying it so far. It was a bit slow to start but has a good pace now.
I haven’t read any of Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson this week, but I hope to pick it up for a bit after I finish ‘Samurai’s Garden.’
I wanted a new audiobook for my car so I went to the library and got Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson. I wanted to read this one to see what I could learn about English in the 1920s when my book is set. So far I’m in pre-Revolutionary America and I’m finding myself zoning out a lot. Not good! Maybe I’ll be more interested when we get to the 20th Century.
I also started a new phone audiobook, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. As a runner (or would be runner, darn tendonitis) and writer, I was intrigued by this book. Murakami’s really cocky but has some great insight and I’m enjoying this so far. It’s short, a little over 4 hours, so I hope to get through it quickly.

Never ToldRecently finished: I finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng late last week. Parts of the ending were satisfying, parts were disappointing. It raised my expectations for my Ford Audiobook Club selections to be sure. 3 out of 5 stars and a review coming next week.

One book review this week again, The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I liked this book though it’s not my favorite of her Tudor series. Let me know what you think.

SlaughterhouseReading Next: I’m still planning on picking up Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury next week. I’ll read some of Out Stealing Horses in the meantime, but this is next as a physical book.
For an audiobook on my phone, I’ll probably pick up Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve never read this classic and it feels wrong to me.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 30-September-2015

30 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


SamuraiCurrently reading:  At least I can say I read some of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell this week though it’s embarrassingly little. It’s honestly stalled for me and I’m having trouble being engaged.
I guess you can figure out I didn’t read any of I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. To be continued…
I picked up with Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng again. I’ll get through it soon, I’m enjoying the story.
I picked up The Samurai’s Garden by Gayle Tsukiyama for my book club on Tuesday night. I’m looking forward to reading this one as another woman from our club has enjoyed it.
I needed a new ‘in between book,’ one I pick up in between reading book club books. I grabbed Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson from my shelf, one I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I hope it’s good!

Bird BoxRecently finished: Two finished! One physical and one audio. I got through Bird Box by Josh Malerman on Friday. I was waiting for my husband at our campsite for our bike event and I couldn’t put it down! A full 5 out of 5.
I also finished The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith on Monday. I liked the story, but I felt like I wasn’t given enough information to try to figure out the killer by myself. Oh well.

One book review this last week. It was The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Please let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought.

451Reading Next: Well, it’s time for the next book club selection! We’re going with a classic this time and I’ll be picking up Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I read this my Sophomore year of high school and don’t remember much so it will be fun to pick it up again as an adult and see what I think.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 23-September-2015

23 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Bird BoxCurrently reading:  I honestly am embarrassed at how slowly I’m getting through Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I checked it out again, but I’m not sure I got through anything new with it. I haven’t had a lot of chance for an eBook lately. Maybe soon?
I guess you can figure out I didn’t read any of I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. To be continued…
No progress with Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I hope to finish it up soon, though!
Making great progress on The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith! This one is really great and has grabbed my attention. I read on Galbraith/Rowling’s Twitter feed that the third in the series will be coming out soon so I’m excited to get my hands on it quickly.
I started copy of Bird Box by Josh Malerman Sunday night. Not too far into it yet, but I’ve heard it’s a hit-or-miss book. I’m inclined to like it because it’s the perfect time of year for a creepy book and the author’s hometown is 20 minutes from me!

Boleyn InheritanceRecently finished: I finished The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory on Sunday. It was a solid read, what I’ve come to expect from Gregory’s Tudor series. I think I’m close to reading them all now, but new ones keep coming out!

Another week of two book reviews. This time around it was Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (3/5) and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (3/5). Let me know your thoughts on these titles as well.

SamuraiReading Next: I’m missing my next book club meeting because of a test, but I’m picking back up again soon after. We’ll be reading The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. I’m looking forward to it as one woman read it before and really liked it!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 16-September-2015

16 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


SilkwormCurrently reading:  Slow going on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I don’t have a lot of time to read it so I’m not sure how soon I could finish this. My hold expires soon and I’m not sure if I can renew it so this trend might continue…
I haven’t look at I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai yet because I’ve had Cloud Atlas. If the hold expires, I’ll get back to this one soon, but I’m almost hoping I can power through Cloud Atlas first.
Getting really close to the end of The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I’m enjoying it a lot. Katherine Howard’s character is really fun to read. I hope to finish it up really soon!
I’m stopped about 2/3 of the way through Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. It’s still interesting, but I’ve set it aside for my new audiobook…
I got The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith! I’m really excited about this one. It’s the same narrator as The Cuckoo’s Calling which is really nice. I’m enjoying the focus on publishing in this one. I bet it’s something Rowling/Galbraith knows a lot about!

Recently finished: Nothing finished this week. I know, I know, it’s my own fault because I keep putting books on hold. This is true, I can’t fight it.

Though I put out two book reviews since last week! Please check out my reviews of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (3 Stars) and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (5 Stars).

Bird BoxReading Next: My book club met on Monday and I got my copy of Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I’m going to pick it up as soon as I finish The Boleyn Inherritance. I’m not putting another book on hold!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 9-September-2015

9 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


CloudAtlasCurrently reading:  Not much going on with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. The middle is dragging for me again. I liked the middle of the first half and I’m hoping that if I get past this section, it will improve again.
I checked ou I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai again, but I’m probably not going to read it until Cloud Atlas goes away again.
More than halfway done with The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I really like it. I hoped I would because Gregory’s books about the Tudors are usually my favorite.
About halfway through Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I like it enough, but it’s not my favorite. It’s very character driven, which is fine, but the flashback style isn’t working for me.

Invisible BridgeRecently finished: I finally finished  The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer! This one took me a while for a few reasons. Being interrupted a lot didn’t help, but I felt this one dragged a lot, especially at the beginning. I’ll write up a full review later, but know it won’t be glowing.

Just one book review in the last week. You can check out my thoughts on Jeannette Wall’s The Glass Castle. My book club recently met on that title so look for a book club reflection in the next few weeks.

Bird BoxReading Next: Still waiting on The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith on eAudio. After so many of you told me you enjoyed it last week, I’m looking forward to this one!
I’ve got another book club selection sneaking up on me so I’ll be reading Bird Box by Josh Malerman for our October meeting. It looks like a great creepy read!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 2-September-2015

2 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Never ToldCurrently reading:  Slow going on Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I don’t have a lot of time where I’m sitting on my phone now. Not as many doctor’s appointments. I guess that’s good?
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai is still on hold.
Close to the end but not quite done with. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I’m really close to the end and I’m thinking there’s no way this can end well.
I’ve just started The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. Not far enough into it yet to say something so look for more next week.
I’m waiting for an eAudio from the library but in the meantime, I’m starting Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This was a free Audible book from the Ford Audiobook Club, which is making a return so if you haven’t joined yet, I encourage you to! Free audiobooks!

Hold HandsRecently finished: Got through two! Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian was an audiobook I’d been excited to read. It wasn’t my favorite title by this author but was a solid story. The review will be out in a few weeks.
The second on was The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. It was a quick read and I sped through it over a weekend trip to the cabin. I wanted to read it before the movie comes out because I’m pretty sure I’ll see it even though I didn’t like the first book or first movie. I feel like they should just print money and charge me for it. Ugh.

One book review this past week. I’m not a big fan of Alice Hoffman and my review of The Museum of Extraordinary Things shows that. Take a look if you’d like.

SilkwormReading Next: I put a hold on The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith on eAudio. I hope it comes in soon!
I don’t have plans for any other books right now. I’ve got a few to get through before I start thinking of that.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!