Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
There are many things to like about this novel about aching to belong, about the pressures of expectations that weigh on children, about longing for parental approbation. I started to listen to the BBC World Book Club podcast featuring Celeste Ng answering questions about her book Everything I Never Told You. My interest was piqued and I waited in the library queue until a copy became available. I’m glad that I read the book.
The family of five at the centre of this book felt real. Ng did a great job of presenting the intimate thoughts of those characters and explaining why they felt excluded and what prevented them from understanding one another and making friends. The feeling of claustrophobia within their home but more broadly in the small town is vivid. Grief is a central theme of the book and Ng handled that believably too.
I liked the language Ng used to describe what the combatants felt as, in the middle of a row, the parents finally said the things they had pretended weren’t true through half a lifetime of marriage
Things he has never said, never even hinted to Marilyn before, pour from his mouth… He feels as if he has vomited, violently, and he drags the back of his hands across his lips… At this word – regret – something in James flares. A hot biting smell, like overheating wires, pricks his nostrils
I enjoyed this book. Did you? This review in The Guardian is worth reading because it expands on the merits of the book.