Everything I Never Told You tells the story of young Lydia, the favorite child of James and Marilyn, and the impossible weight she carried living a life of unprecedented pressure. Pressure from her Caucasian mother determined not to allow her daughter to make the same life decisions she had made, of not finishing college and becoming a housewife, and from her Chinese-American father who faced prejudice all his life and his all-consuming need for his child to be accepted by her peers.
It’s no spoiler to let you know that in the opening lines, fifteen year old Lydia is dead. The trajectory of this book is the explanation and exploration of the life Lydia was living and her desperate struggle to please the two people whose job it was to nurture and protect and set free their precious little bird. Instead, their little bird was trapped, smothered and starved of the security she ached and longed for. Her only comfort came from Nath, her compassionate brother, but even his capacity for strength and comfort could not accomodate the two of them and eventually Lydia was left to survive on her own. Naturally, her death creates havoc in the family, testing the strength and resolve of marriage and siblings.
I’m giving this one four stars because this was beautifully done, so well written and so intricate in details of the heart and mind. But this book is sad. Sad and heavy. It makes you long for resolution. And you get it in some ways, thankfully, but in keeping with reality, in some ways you don’t.