Domino Effects of Family Favoritism

Everything I Never Told You
by Celeste Ng

Lydia is the most favorite child. She has her mother eyes that makes her stand out among her siblings. Has many great friends, put a smile on his father’s face when he saw her talking to them on the telephone. Smart and has high enthusiasm on science, her mother cheerfully helped her to learn more. Lydia is far from being lonely and excluded, yet there are so many things she never told to anyone.

Lydia is Dead. But nobody knows it yet.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ngs

Those who haven’t read the synopsis as me might feel sorry for the tragedy happened in 1977 to this sixteen-year old girl. She is stranger to us yet death is universal and more often than not, familiar.

Like everyone of us, it starts within the family. Lee family is a cross-culture one. James, the father is the son of Chinese immigrant parents who came to America without prior English knowledge nor knowing its culture. He attended American public school for his parents were working as janitors at the same school and he passed the entrance exam to be elligible to join a scholarship. Born with different race among his peers he learned to blend and being unnoticeable. That has been his coping mechanism to feel safe and focusing on study rather than responding to “What’s wrong with your eyes?” from fellow students.

While the mother, Marilyn is a daughter of a single-parent Mom. Born as an American, for sure she didn’t have the same experience as her husband. But just like him, she’s also attract attention among his peers who are men. When women being regarded not as smart as men, she proved herself and started to study chemistry in attempt to become a doctor. Not as a nurse as her advisor told her.

She didn’t became a doctor, but as a housewive just like her mother when she met James and fall in love. She loves what James himself is trying to hide, his cowlick for example.

I love how Celeste Ng crafts each of characters complexities. How they became who they are. Nathan, Lydia’s oldest sibling is an aspiring astronaut who learned to silent his interest by not telling his parents especially his dad after the father’s rage after he told him that people are able to go to the moon and back to earth.

Hanna is the youngest, a girl with high observation skills. She is my favorite character from Everything I Never Told You, her family tends to think that she’s just this small girl who knows nothing yet as we read, we will know so much of things from her perspective. She holds most of characters’ secrets.

There is also Jack, a neighbor whose once Nathan thought could be his friend before Jack humiliated him at the pool when they were younger. Nathan believes that his sister missing has something to do with him since he was always hanging out with his sister. The fact that Jack is a popular kid with many girls wanting to be with him only adds to Nathan’s suspicion.

This novel has third-person point of view. But unlike the others, the writer gives a personality whether as herself or as the others to give her own opinion and expression on telling the story. I like it, it adds colours and personality to the narator. Which for me, as someone who has finished reading it still found her fair and unbiased to each character in the book.

Reading this reminds me that everybody we know has its background story. They are different inside yet what they show can be so different. Just like a lighthouse, it is so bright from far yet once we get there, its darkness emerges below its tower.

It also taught us that there are so many things we may resist to communicate in hope to erase it consequences from our present moment, which will only escalate its outcome in the future. Just like how the domino works, we need prevent this happening by putting it into conversation.

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