The Book of You Book Review

The Book of You Book Cover The Book of You
Claire Kendal
Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
04/24/2014
Audible
384; 9 hrs 43 mins

 

At a Glance

Clarissa is a 38 year-old woman living and working in London. Through her job, she comes into contact with Rafe, the man who eventually becomes her stalker. As Clarissa tries to ignore the issue in the hopes that it will go away, she is called to serve on a Jury for a trial involving the brutal kidnapping and rape of a woman. As Clarissa goes through the trial, she begins to see that she must find a way to fight back against Rafe and his suffocating nature in order to regain her freedom.

My Review

The Book of You is the story of a woman dealing with a terrifying stalker, the lengths he’ll go to in order to control her, and how she tries to break free. Clarissa is a quiet woman who lives alone and keeps to herself. One evening, she’s coerced into going to an event held by her co-worker, Rafe. From the events that transpired that night, Rafe has built an obsession with Clarissa, and will not leave her alone. He’s constantly following her, watching her, calling her. Clarissa, unsure of how to handle this unwanted attention, is slowly unraveling. She tries to speak up to friends about her fear of this situation, but no one believes her. Her only peace comes when she’s selected for jury duty in a neighboring town. The weeks she’s in the courthouse serve as a respite from Rafe and his incessant stalking. She connects with Robert, another juror, and their blossoming friendship brings some light into her dark life. Clarissa tries to find the courage to shut down Rafe’s advances once and for all. Unfortunately, this only serves to excite him more and his horrifying behavior begins to escalate.

I decided on this book for my monthly Audible subscription pick because it seemed like it would be a fast-paced story with an aspect of suspense. (Sidenote: if you’re not already an Audible subscriber, I highly recommend you check it out. The plans are priced very reasonably and it’s a great option, especially if you commute or travel a lot. I listen to my monthly book to and from work and I love it!)

First things first, the narrator, Orlagh Cassidy, is amazing. She was able to differentiate the different voices in the book really well. Every time she spoke any of Rafe’s dialogue, it sent chills down my spine. She was able to capture all of his sliminess and treachery and really bring that character to life.

The story itself was interesting, and, at first, I really connected with Clarissa’s character. This may have been a result of listening to Ms. Cassidy narrate; thus hearing the story versus reading. From the beginning, I got wrapped up in Clarissa’s story, and how hopeless and isolated she felt. But, by the half-way point of the book. I felt that the story started to lag and become repetitive. Clarissa’s passivity became extremely annoying and I found myself wanting her to just do something, anything. From the summary of the book, I thought there would be more parallels between Clarissa’s situation and the trial she was involved with. Instead, I found the trial difficult to follow and it took away from the main plot. Also, there were some very graphic portions of the story; e.g. rape, torture, etc., that I wasn’t prepared to hear. Finally, I didn’t like the ending at all. It felt like an afterthought and, based on the ending, I didn’t see the point of Robert’s character or his storyline at all. I almost feel like I started one book, and finished a completely different story.

Overall, I liked it but definitely not one of my favorites. I felt it was a good debut effort, and I’m interested to see what Claire Kendal comes up with next.

The Invention of Wings Book Review

The Invention of Wings Book Cover The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
Historical Fiction
1/07/2014
Hardcover
373

 

At a Glance

Taking place in early nineteenth century Charleston, The Invention of Wings is the story of two women from very different backgrounds and their individual struggles with slavery. Sarah Grimké, an actual abolitionist that inspired this book, is the middle daughter of a wealthy judge and slave-owner in Charleston. On her eleventh birthday, she is given ownership of Hetty "Handful" Grimké, a slave meant to be her personal lady's maid. Readers are taken on a journey across thirty-five years, from Charleston to Philadelphia and back again, learning the true meaning of resilience in the face of devastating adversity.

My Review

I absolutely loved Sue Monk Kidd’s first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, so I had been meaning to read her latest offering for quite a while, but never seemed to get around to it. Then, it was fortuitously chosen as the July pick for a book club I do with a few girlfriends. I had read a lot of positive reviews of the book, and since I’m a fan of historical fiction, I was expecting to enjoy the book. What I did not expect was to become so captivated by the stories of Sarah and Handful Grimké! As soon as I cracked open my copy of The Invention of Wings, I was transported into Sarah and Handful’s worlds.

Sarah is a daughter of one of the prominent families in Charleston’s planter class – basically members of elite society. She is morally against slavery, but she realizes there is not much she can do while living in Charleston, as slavery is very deep-rooted in the South. Sarah has a thirst for knowledge and a longing to be a judge, like her father. However, her intelligence is suppressed because she is a female. Sarah struggles with the hypocrisy displayed by her father and brothers, and realizes that as a woman, she will always be tethered to a man and his needs.

“When I’d espoused my anti-slavery views during those dinner table debates, Father beaming and spurring me on, I’d thought he prized my position. I’d thought he shared my position, but it hit me suddenly that I’d been the collared monkey dancing to his master’s accordian.”

Handful is the slave gifted to Sarah on her eleventh birthday. She and her mother, Charlotte, are just two of the many slaves that live and work on the Grimké estate. Handful, like Sarah, is also intelligent and ambitious. But, she lives in a very different world from Sarah, and learns to restrain her desires for freedom. Handful becomes adept at “playing the game” so to speak – being able to smile and kowtow to white people, while at the same time cradling her hopes and dreams inside.

“I have one mind for the master to see. I have another mind for what I know is me”

Alternatively narrated by Sarah and Handful, the story follows their intersecting lives and complicated relationship from 1803 to 1838. By the laws of the time, Sarah is the master and Handful must obey her every wish and command. But, because of Sarah’s deep abhorrence of the practice of slavery, she cannot bring herself to rule over Handful, and instead tries to free her. When this fails, she secretly teaches her how to read; illegal at the time. Handful, at times resenting Sarah’s status as a white woman, still begrudgingly cares for her.

The Invention of Wings juxtaposes these two women’s stories, and you’re able to see how similar they are, even though their skin color is different. For example, both Sarah and Handful yearn for freedom – Sarah to be free to choose her vocation, and Handful to be free from slavery. Both women lose a parent around the same time. Both women become involved in rebellious activity. Of course, there are stark differences too. Sarah has the freedom to leave Charleston, and travels by boat to Philadelphia. Handful has to be content with just watching the boats in Charleston’s harbors and dreaming of one day leaving. Sarah, as a white woman, is considered a human being, while Handful, and all other Negros, are valued as goods.

Obviously a huge topic of this book was slavery. Kidd discusses the daily workings of a Southern estate and how slaves were used in various functions. However, she also provides, at times horrifying, detail about the punishment tactics used by whites to ensure slaves stayed in their place; e.g. whippings, the Work House treadmill, the collar/foot contraption. While these were hard to read, it is also important to be aware of these atrocities, as they are part of American history. Another subject Kidd discusses is how Sarah’s interest in the abolitionist cause naturally segued into the suffragette movement. I’m sure most of us never think of the two as so closely connected, but they were and it was interesting to learn more about how that came about, especially for Sarah. Kidd also touches on an issue that America is still dealing with today: discrimination of skin color.

” ‘It has come as a great revelation to me’, I wrote to her, ‘that abolition is different from the desire for racial equality. Color prejudice is at the bottom of everything. If it is not fixed, the plight of the Negro will continue long after abolition.’ “

How true and profound. Because that discrimination was not rooted out appropriately at the time, we are still seeing repercussions almost 200 years later.

The Invention of Wings is a beautiful and uplifting story of two women trying to fly above the worlds they live in and find freedom. More than anything, this books shows what it was like to be a woman in the 1800s, both from a black and white perspective. I absolutely loved it and could not put it down. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, or want to learn more about American history, this is definitely a great read!

*Note about Kindle edition: I usually buy Kindle editions of books, but the reviews on Amazon were overwhelmingly negative. It seems that, since this is an Oprah Book Club book, the Kindle edition includes her notes inline, which can be very distracting. For that reason, I purchased the Hardcover edition, which did not have any notes.

The One I Left Behind Book Review

The One I Left Behind Book Cover The One I Left Behind
Jennifer McMahon
Fiction, Thriller
1/02/2013
Kindle
422

 

At a Glance

The summer of 1985 was a turning point in the life of Reggie Dufrane. She was thirteen years old when her hometown of Brighton Falls, CT was targeted by a serial killer. Neptune, as the killer was nicknamed by the press, would kidnap local women and hold them captive for five days. On day one, he would leave a severed hand of the victim by the police headquarters. On day five, the lifeless body of the woman would be posed by a local landmark. As the police scrambled to find Neptune, Reggie and her friends, Charlie and Tara, mount their own investigation, mainly just as a way to pass time. But, the stakes are raised when Reggie's own mother, Vera, disappears, and her hand shows up at the police department. Reggie, Charlie, and Tara try their best to find Vera, but their search is fruitless. Vera's body is never recovered, and Neptune is never heard from again.

Until, twenty-five years later, when Vera, presumed dead after all of these years, turns up in a homeless shelter. Reggie, now a successful architect, returns to Brighton Falls to take care of her mother. The police and media catch wind of Vera's homecoming, and try to speak to her to find out who Neptune was. Vera is battling cancer and experiences varying levels of lucidity. But then, Neptune resurfaces and Tara, Reggie's old friend, is his latest victim. Reggie must try to navigate her memories as well as her mother's to solve the mystery of Neptune and save Tara before it's too late.

My Review

I’m a big fan of thrillers, most likely stemming from my love of Law & Order: SVU. So, this book seemed to be right up my alley with a serial killer and a twenty-five year-old mystery. I’ve read a few other Jennifer McMahon thrillers in the past, but I have to say that The One I Left Behind was the one that most impressed me.

The story starts off with Reggie receiving a phone call informing her that her mother, Vera, has been found alive after being missing for 25 years. Right off the bat, you’re caught up in the suspense: Who is Neptune? Where has Vera been for all of these years? From there the story alternates between present-day (narrated by adult-Reggie) and 1985 (narrated by teenager-Reggie).  You’re able to get to know 13 year-old Reggie, and learn about the complicated relationship she had with her mother. The present-day chapters give you an understanding on how Vera’s disappearance affected Reggie, and how she’s still dealing with those issues. You meet a variety of characters, and it seems there’s a possibility that anyone could be Neptune.

Overall, I really enjoyed The One I Left Behind. Once I got used to the back and forth narration, I felt the plot moved at a fairly fast pace. I found myself reading as quickly as possible to try to figure out who Neptune was and what happened to Vera. McMahon drops little clues throughout the story, and it was fun to try to guess who the serial killer was. The end payoff was worth it, as I was surprised by the final twist.

The One I Left Behind is a quick read, but it packs a punch. If you’re into criminal thrillers, I think you’ll definitely be a fan!

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry Book Review

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry Book Cover The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Gabrielle Zevin
Fiction
4/1/2014
Kindle
258

 

At a Glance

A.J. Fikry is the grumpy owner of Island Books, a bookstore on Alice Island near Massachusetts. Things are not going well for him as of late. His wife died recently in a car accident. The sales at his book store have plummeted. A very rare and valuable edition of Tamerlane by Edgar Allen Poe was stolen from his apartment. And, as a result of all of these misfortunes, A.J. has fallen into a deep depression. One day, he receives an unexpected and special delivery to the store - an abandoned baby named Maya. How A.J. reacts to this new guest, and uses this incident to turn his life around is the crux of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

My Review

Being a recent transplant to Philadelphia, I wanted to start a book club at my new job as a way to get to know my new coworkers and push myself to keep reading regularly. I talked to a few of my coworkers about the idea and when I got an overwhelmingly positive response, I decided to go forward with the book club. For our first book, I wanted to pick something that could appeal to a broad audience, wasn’t too long, and obviously had good reviews. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry fit all of these criteria. I had been hearing a lot of praise for this book, but the main reason I picked it was because of this line from the description on Amazon:

Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.”

What a great choice for my first work book club – a book that reflects on why reading is so enjoyable! And after reading it, I have to say that it lived up to the reviews!

When I began reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I thought the main plot would be trying to figure out who stole A.J.’s copy of Tamerlane. And while that mystery weaves in and out of the story, that plot-line becomes less important as you began to get to know the various characters. There’s Maya, Amelia, Ismay and Chief Lambiase, and they’re all wonderful people who play an important part in A.J.’s rebuilding of his life. They all, in turn, are in some way touched by Island Books. Witnessing the transformation of each of these characters was the best part of the book. I loved reading about how Lambiase’s interest in reading grew, and how Maya’s lifelong love of reading translated into her desire to be a writer. Most of all, I loved seeing how A.J. came out of isolation and allowed himself to build a group of friends and family members.

I gave it 4 stars of out 5, simply because there were times that I wanted more. At times, I felt like Zevin needed to keep the book under a certain number of pages, so she just quickly summarized what were, in my mind, really major events in the plot.; e.g. the adoption process of Maya or A.J.’s wedding. It would have been nice to get more details there.

Otherwise, I have no complaints. I loved reading A.J.’s little book summaries at the beginning of each chapter. I loved that it was about a small-town bookstore that succeeded. And, I loved that it was a lesson in how books can bring people together. It shows the positive affect a love of reading can have on a person, at any age. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a perfect beach read, or just something to curl up with when you want a comforting, quick story to transport you to another world.

Instructions for a Heatwave Book Review

Instructions for a Heatwave Book Cover Instructions for a Heatwave
Maggie O'Farrell
Fiction
6/18/2013
Kindle
338

 

At a Glance

It's July 1976 and all of the UK is undergoing a massive heatwave. Robert, patriarch of the Riordan family, goes out to run an errand and never comes back. His wife, Gretta, is left with the task of informing their three grown children that their father is gone, and that he's withdrawn a large sum of money from his bank account on the way. Michael Francis, Monica, and Aoife all return home to support their mother and try to unravel the mystery behind their father's disappearance. But, at the same time, they are also dealing with their own problems. Michael Francis' marriage is falling apart, and Monica and Aoife haven't spoken to each other in three years. Each child also has a difficult relationship with Gretta, stemming from her lifelong martyr syndrome. In Instructions for a Heatwave, O'Farrell, explores the secrets that can tear a family apart, and a mystery that might bring them back together.

My Review

I actually came across this book in a very random way. I was on a flight to Atlanta and I noticed a woman seated ahead of me holding a copy of Instructions for a Heatwave. I always like to check out what others are reading, so I quickly searched for it on Goodreads. The plot seemed interesting and there were plenty of good reviews, so I thought I would give it a whirl.

I was not disappointed. Instructions for a Heatwave has been my favorite book I’ve read this year. It was engrossing and tugged at my emotions in a way that doesn’t normally happen.

The mystery of what happened to Robert drew me in at first. Was there foul play? Did he have a medical issue that he hadn’t told anyone about? Was he, after 40 years of marriage, simply done with Gretta and his children? But as the book progressed, I found that the main plot fell away, revealing these amazingly complex characters and their individual back stories. I couldn’t put this book down, simply because I wanted to hear more and more about these interesting people.

Michael Francis is a middle-aged teacher who’s married and has two young  children. He was smart and ambitious from a young age, but unexpectedly got his wife, Claire, pregnant and had to settle into a life that he did not plan. Now, he and Claire are experiencing marital issues and he’s unsure if they’re going to make it. He resents having to deal with the issue of his father disappearing, on top of everything else he’s already juggling, but also struggles with his need to be a good son to Gretta.

Monica, always their mother’s favorite, is in her second marriage, and still pining over her first. She’s always been the dependable child, and Gretta relied on her a lot to help with raising Aiofe. Monica was a second mother to Aiofe, but three years ago they stopped speaking over an issue related to Monica’s ex-husband. Her divorce and estrangement from Aiofe has turned Monica into a bitter and judgmental person. Out of the three siblings, she understands Gretta the best and is able to navigate her temper flares and mood swings.

Aiofe is the youngest and was the most difficult child. She cried constantly as a baby, and then grew into a strange and willful child. She did very badly in school (due to undiagnosed Dyslexia), and eventually left London after school. She moved to the US, and gained work as a photographer’s assistant in New York City. She misses her relationship with Monica, and doesn’t quite understand what went wrong between them. Aiofe also has a very tempestuous relationship with Gretta, bristling at her overbearing nature.

Gretta is the most faceted character of them all. She’s an Irish mother who tried her best to instill cultural values in her children, even as they grew up in London. Gretta loves her family more than anything, but it’s also hard for her to express this. She can be hysterical, manipulative, and sometimes, downright mean. Gretta is also harbouring some secrets that may be the key to understanding what happened to Robert. But, getting her to be open is like pulling teeth.

Learning more and more about each of these unique personalities as the pages turned was a complete delight. Each character was written in a way that you got to know their strengths and their flaws, and you couldn’t help but hope things would get better. For example, there were times that I cringed at how self-absorbed Michael Francis was being, but at the same time I felt bad for him and genuinely wanted things in his life to work out. Same thing with Monica – she could be so cold and vengeful, but I knew that was coming from a place of pain and loneliness.

Instructions for a Heatwave takes readers on many journeys – from London to New York City to a village in Ireland, and then also from 1976 back in time to the 1940s and ’50s. It discusses many hard-hitting topics that weren’t talked about in the ’70s, such as adultery, learning disabilities, and abortion. One of the underlying themes was obviously family, and how difficult they can be. Sometimes the ones we are closest to can also inflict the most pain on us, simply because they know us the best. But, I think the positive message in the book is that while family knows which buttons to press, and which secrets could hurt us the most, they are also the ones we to turn to in a crisis. And, Instructions for a Heatwave shows how even the most fractured families can find their way back to a better place.

 

 

I Am Livia Book Review

I Am Livia Book Cover I Am Livia
Phyllis T. Smith
Historical Fiction, Roman Empire
5/1/2014
Kindle
391

 

At a Glance

Livia Drusilla is the elder daughter of a prominent Roman senator involved in the assassination of Julius Caesar. Even though she displays intelligence beyond her years, she still lives in a world ruled by men and so must marry a man of her father's choosing. Livia marries Tiberius Nero, an officer in the Roman military, and settles into her life as an aristocrat. She soon meets Julius Caesar's adopted son and heir, Octavianus, and their mutual attraction and subsequent relationship sends Livia's life on a path she could not have predicted. Told against the backdrop of the struggle for the Roman Empire between Octavianus and Marc Antony, I Am Livia shows how one woman was able to influence the course of history.

My Review

I’m a big fan of historical fiction, so when I started hearing a lot of praise for I Am Livia, I knew I wanted to read it. I’m not very familiar with the founding of the Roman Empire, and I was eager to learn more about this time period. I Am Livia is unique in that it details the conflict between Octavianus (a.k.a. Tavius, the Emperor Augustus) and Marc Antony, from a woman’s perspective.

Smith begins the story with Julius Caesar’s assassination and from there describes Octavianus’ rise to power in Rome in parallel with Livia’s political marriage to Tiberius Nero. As her father was involved in Caesar’s assassination, Livia and Octavianus are on opposing sides in the ongoing Roman power struggle. As Octavianus gains influence, he begins to avenge Caesar’s death through proscriptions, a form of ancient Roman justice where normal citizens are encouraged to kill individuals deemed enemies of the state. Livia’s husband is named in one of these proscriptions, and so she, Tiberius Nero, and their son, Tiberius, must flee to Greece to avoid Octavianus’ wrath. Eventually a truce of sorts is called and they are allowed to come back to Rome.

Once back in Rome, Livia and Octavianus’ paths cross as they run in the same social circles. Both feel an intense attraction for each other, but they are also both married to other people. In fact, Livia is pregnant with her second child with Tiberius Nero, and Octavianus’ wife, Scribonia, is also pregnant. Livia is reconciled to her life with Tiberius Nero, until Octavianus steps in. He divorces Scribonia on the day she gives birth, and convinces Tiberius Nero to give Livia an amicable divorce as well. Livia and Octavianus then have a short wedding ceremony, waiting on the more elaborate version until she has given birth.

Livia is misunderstood at times, and idle gossips paint her as a manipulative shrew who has tossed her first husband aside and now controls Octavianus. However, Smith describes the private side of Livia. She stands by Octavianus’ side as he struggles to gain approval of the Roman people, as he battles against Marc Antony (husband to his own sister), and eventually consolidates power to become the first Emperor of Rome. More than that, Livia shows her shrewd intellect by learning how to play the political games of the Senate. She expertly influences Octavianus to do more for the people, including setting up public works. Her main goals are always peace for the realm and safety for her family. Livia and Octavianus’ marriage lasts for 51 years, and they experience their ups and downs during this time. They clash on decisions on how he should rule Rome. She is unable to have any children with him. But, throughout it all, their affection for each other remains and eventually Octavianus names Livia’s son, Tiberius, as his heir.

I Am Livia is an engaging read, which will serve to pique your interest to learn more about this time period. The characters come to life through Smith’s writing and I felt that under all of the power and political game-playing, this was a story about a woman who wants nothing more than to raise her children in a peaceful country. Livia is written in a way that you see her goodness and her flaws. I rooted for her in every situation – when she and Tiberius Nero are literally running for their lives in Greece, when she breaks his heart to marry Octavianus, when she tries and fails to carry a child with him to term, and her struggle to balance her husband’s military ambition with her fear of war. She wasn’t perfect, but she tried her best to make the right decisions for her people and her family.

My only complaint was that I felt the love story between Livia and Octavianus seemed to materialize too quickly. Based on Smith’s writing, they seemingly made the decision to leave their existing marriages within a matter of days, as opposed to what I’m sure was much longer in reality. I would have preferred a lengthier, more realistic, courtship. It also seemed that all obstacles, loose ends, and conflicts within Octavianus’ and Livia’s marriage were able to be resolved fairly quickly and easily. I’m sure it wasn’t all that simple.

Aside from that, I really enjoyed I Am Livia. I found myself staying up late to read one more chapter (which actually turned out to be more like five more chapters!). If you’re interested in historical fiction, or just want to read about a strong heroine who helped to shape an Empire, definitely check it out!

Goodreads

 

 

Everything I Never Told You Book Review

Everything I Never Told You Book Cover Everything I Never Told You
Celeste Ng
Cultural Fiction, Asian American Fiction
6/26/2014
Audible
298

 

At a Glance

James and Marilyn Lee, an interracial married couple living in 1970s Middlewood, Ohio, awake one morning to find Lydia, their favorite child, missing. The police are called and the Lee's, including their other two children, Nathan and Hannah, frantically try to figure out where she could have gone. Eventually, the town lake is drained, and Lydia is found to have drowned. Everything I Never Told You explores the impact of Lydia's death on the entire Lee family as they try to understand who is responsible.

 

My Review

Everything I Never Told You is a reflection on how complicated families can be.

James and Marilyn Lee seemingly have the perfect life. He’s an American History professor at the local college. She’s a homemaker. They have three children – Nathan, Lydia, and Hannah. But, as the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold.

James is the American-born son of Chinese immigrants. His parents worked hard to give him every opportunity, but James still faced a lot of discrimination over the years. Because of these traumatic experiences, James’ singular goal in life is to blend in and be accepted. He projects this goal on his children – pushing Nathan and Lydia to be popular and well-liked.

Marilyn is beautiful, white, and brilliant. She was the only daughter of a Home Economics teacher and was determined to make something more of herself. Marilyn met James while she was in college, studying to be a doctor. She was ambitious and driven when it came to her goals, but had to change direction when she found herself pregnant. James and Marilyn get married, and she becomes trapped in the life of a stay-at-home Mom. Because of her lack of intellectual fulfillment, Marilyn pushes Lydia down the path of becoming a doctor.

Lydia, the clear favorite of both James and Lydia, carries a heavy burden. Both of her parents have pinned all of their hopes and dreams on her. James is constantly pushing her to make friends and be social, when it’s clear that this is not something she is comfortable with. Marilyn, on the other end of the spectrum, cajoles Lydia into taking advanced Science classes to get a leg up for medical school. Lydia struggles to keep up with the coursework, but Marilyn doesn’t seem to notice.

Nathan, the eldest, is close to Lydia. They both understand the struggles of being in the Lee family, and dealing with their parents. But, Nathan is also resentful of the attention Lydia always gets from their parents. Nathan is smart and does well in school, but for the most part, his parents don’t notice. He has a difficult relationship with James, who sees much of his younger, pushed-around, self in Nathan.

Hannah, the youngest, is universally forgotten by all family members. Her conception was an accident, and it seems like she’s been an afterthought ever since. For being only ten years old, however, Hannah is very observent and notices more about what’s been going on with Lydia than anyone else.

The relationships of these five family members, described leading up to, during, and after Lydia’s disappearance is what makes Everything I Never Told You such a haunting read. Slowly, page by page, Ng unveils little bits of information that fit together like puzzle pieces to show the bigger picture of what’s happened to Lydia. She shows how wounds from James and Marilyn’s childhood, left to fester for years, eventually caused cracks in their family’s foundation. The underlying issues of race, depression, and loneliness are painted on every page. The inherent flaws of the characters makes you dislike them, and then empathize with them in the same breath. It is a beautiful book that serves to remind us that no person or family is perfect. I would definitely recommend it, and think it would especially make a great Book Club read.

Goodreads