Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

everythinginevertoldyou A story that has been told a dozen times before:

A perfect daughter dies under tragic circumstances. Her family reels with shock, and then struggles to pick up the pieces.

The premise of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng may seem simple – familiar, even – but this story is far from what you’d expect.

Set in a small town in Ohio in the 1970s, Everything I Never Told You follows the Chinese-American Lee family. James Lee is a Chinese man working as a college professor (of history, specifically westerns and cowboys); his wife, Marilyn, is a white woman whose dreams of becoming a doctor were swept under the rug with the birth of her first child.

The three Lee children are Lydia, an overachieving, straight-A, student with many friends; Nathan, an equally-intelligent loner overshadowed by his sister; and Hannah, a quiet younger child who craves attention from her family.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed. Old wounds are reopened. Crushed dreams are realized. Allegiances are questioned.

Word gets out that Lydia may not have been the popular girl her family thought her to be. While Nath and even Hannah begin to investigate the person that was their sister, Lydia’s parents refuse to listen and cope with their grief in vastly different ways.

“The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you–whether because you didn’t get to have your say, or because the other person never got to hear you and really wanted to.”

Everything I Never Told You is a haunting debut from an author who understands the nuances of relationships and renders them both painfully, and beautifully, on the page.

You may think you’ve read this story before, but this debut is all new.

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.

Review: The Two of Us by Andy Jones

thetwoofus Before a snowstorm hit New York City in January, I was contacted by Atria Books with an a review request for The Two of Us by Andy Jones, which was later released on February 9th. Atria promised me “the perfect book to cuddle up to as snow and ice pelt the windows,” so I eagerly downloaded it.

In reality, The Two of Us lasted me a few chilly, soggy subway rides post-snowstorm, and while it wasn’t necessarily a book I would think of cuddling up to, it was a captivating read that was vastly different from any love story I’ve ever read.

Fisher and Ivy have been dating for a blissed-out, totally sexy nineteen days when they’re faced with a major wake-up call: one that’s set to completely change their lives in nine months time. While Fisher is certain that the gorgeous, spontaneous Ivy is the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with, the couple is forced to learn about each other, overcome hurdles together, and reach milestones together on an incredibly sped-up timeline.

While on their own I didn’t entirely enjoy Fisher or Ivy as characters, they made an interesting couple. Separately, I found both of them to be impatient, self-involved people. Together, however, they become a different entity entirely. Their dynamics, their moods, and their conversations kept me on my toes and turning the pages. The secondary characters – especially Fisher’s friend, El, who is suffering from Huntington’s disease – made this story a rich, compelling read.

The Two of Us, told entirely through Fisher’s point of view (intriguing for a romantic plot), is a funny, complicated, and heartbreaking story. While it may be easy to fall in love, it’s not always easy to stay there. I thought Fisher’s narration was incredibly interesting for this storyline; I may have read this story a dozen times from the woman’s perspective, but I’ve never read it from the man’s perspective. The frank language and candid opinions of Fisher really made this story stand out for me.

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.