Everything I Never Told You

By Celeste Ng

Opening line

"Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast.”

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About Lydia

Lydia Lee, the middle child of the Lee family goes missing. After many days of worried suspense, her body is removed from the town lake. Lydia's parents, James and Marilyn are horrified with their daughter's death. As the police investigate what happened, her parents both discover that Lydia wasn't popular and doing well in school like they thought. She was actually a loner with almost no friends and her grades had severely slipped.

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Lydia didn't know how to swim so the mystery of her being found dead in the lake was very shocking to everyone. The police underwent investigation to find the cause of death, as did her family. They questioned every one of Lydia's friends and aqaintences. Lydia's brother Nath went to extreme lengths to figure out 'who' did this to his sister.

James and Marilyn

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Marilyn and James had three kids together: Nath, Lydia, and Hannah. Out of all of the kids, Lydia was always the favorite. The other kids knew that, too. The parents mainly focused on Lydia, while Hannah and Nath were kind of in the background.

Lydia's struggle

While being the favorite child had many benefits, it also came with high expectations. With Marilyn failing to become a doctor like she wanted, she tried to live vicariously through Lydia and pushed her to study in the medical field. Marilyn implanted the idea of Lydia being a doctor in her brain at a very young age. Lydia was led to believe that it was what she was meant to do. However, in high school she was failing chemistry and hid it from her parents for the longest time. James, Lydia's father always pushed her to be social and wanted her to be popular. Since he wasn't popular and was often ridiculed for being Asain, he wanted Lydia to have as many friends as she could. Lydia pretended to have friends and pretended to go out with them, but in reality she was hanging out with her next door neighbor named Jack, who had a bad reputation.


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While Nath hates Jack for trying to get with his sister, Jack only hung out with her to get closer to Nath. Lydia goes to Jack late one night hoping to sleep with him but he reveals that he is secretly in love with her brother Nath.

The downfall

As everything falls apart in front of Lydia's eyes, she traces back her unhappiness to the time her brother pushed her into the lake. Lydia goes there late at night intending to jump into the water and swim back to shore.
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For anyone looking for an amazing, heartbreakingly realistic book, they should read Everything I Never Told You. The story is not only of a family losing their daughter, but a story of racism and of a family trying to fit into a world they don't feel they belong in. Have tissues handy, I highly recommend this book.