Friday, September 4, 2015

Contemporary Review: Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another book that surprised me.

Honestly, I'm not a person who seeks out realistic and tragic stories, the kind that tug at your heart, like this one. I would not have picked this up were it not for the book club picking it and me not wanting to sit there not knowing what everyone else was talking about. Ah peer pressure. Anyhow, I found myself engrossed in this story. The tangled web of Lydia's family's past and present as several timelines work towards the moment that both begins and ends the book: Lydia's death.

The opening line sent shivers down my back. Wow. The initial few days afterward showing the family's confusion and hope. Then the revelation that dashes that hope. Just the beginning of the story. And then the author begins to reveal why we should care by taking careful backward leaps in time to explore each family member's past and how their experiences molded both them and their family and ultimately led, in part, to Lydia's untimely demise.

There were some amusing things about this book, but for the most part, each thread of the web linked to each other, and as the book progresses, it became clear why Lydia died. Why she had to die. A sad story, to say the least.

On the down side, this is one of those stories that hops around the timeline with abandon, jumping from perspective to perspective and giving the reader the story in snippets both long and short. I can see someone getting a bit lost in this timeline.

The copy I'm reviewing is an audio book, 8 CDs, 10 hours. Whew. Listened to this while driving to and from work. Overall, the quality of the narration seemed good. The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, took on different voices for the various characters and stuck to them consistently, making it easy to recognize each one. Her voice is steady and smooth. One thing I didn't like, however, is how some words were oddly pronounced, like sweat (swat?) and barrette. The book translates well to audio, and this narrator did an excellent job keeping everything straight for the listener.

So, overall, I loved this story, though it broke my heart. I strongly recommend this to folks who like dramatic, tragic stories and also to folks who like stories set in the past (1930s-1980s). The quality of both writing and narration made this easy to enjoy, despite the sad context of the story itself.

I borrowed the audiobook copy of this book from the local library.

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