Margin Notes: Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story is an in-depth look at a bi-racial (Caucasion/Chinese) family in the 1970s in Ohio. The writing is accomplished and lush. The characters are rich (mostly unlikable). I liked reading this book.

It is and isn't a mystery--the story's plot revolves around figuring out why Lydia Lee died--was she murdered? Did she commit suicide? The heart of the book, however, looks at a struggling family and how they lived their lives. It takes each family member's viewpoint and helps you see what's happening through their eyes. That structure leads to very rich character development that really drives the emotional arc of the story forward. I didn't particularly love any of the characters (the family's son and younger daughter got most of my sympathy), but all were vivid, well-developed, and you understood their points of view, how they felt, what they thought, what they looked like, their back story, their motivations. It was a beautiful capture o these characters at a certain point in time.

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