The synopsis to “Everything I Never Told You” sounds akin to a “whodunit” scenario. The body of Lydia, beloved and worshipped daughter of James and Marilyn is found at the bottom of the lake just down their street. Both are aghast and confused, as their family seemed, at least from the outside, like the stereotypical, cookie-cutter, white picket fence, “perfect” family.
I loved this book. While it was incredibly sad, the writing was beautiful and poetic, evocative and sensory. The story was gripping, layered, and covered many crucial topics (such as racism, perfectionist/toxic parenting and what this can result in for their children), the complicated dynamics of sibling relationships, as well as romantic ones.
It further explored loneliness, the painful sensation so many of us experience (at one point or another) of feeling misunderstood and different, and the nuances that, though seemingly small and inconsequential, can add up to significant family dysfunction.
This book is quite empathy inducing with regard to all characters. We learn of the beginning love story between James and Marilyn, as well as the racism which James navigated and contended with, much to Marilyn’s lack of awareness (with her being Caucasian and his being Chinese).
We learn about and witness, though unintended, the ill effects and even damage the pressed upon sense of perfectionism they exude has on their daughter, Lydia. As well as, the hurt their other two children endure, Nath and Hannah, infrequently being regarded as afterthoughts and lesser than.
All while simultaneously, the question hovers. What happened to Lydia? A primary suspect, at least in Nath’s mind, is Jack. The supposed womanizing, unsympathetic neighbor with whom Lydia grew quite close towards the end of her life.
Tensions, resentment, and hurt mounts. Climaxes and explosion occur. Some degree of catharsis is ushered in. The family is, of course, never the same following.
I highly recommend this fast, suspenseful, and intriguing read.