Tag: familyissues

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng.

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

It’s a book I have been meaning to read for a while now. Finally, when I got around to reading it, I finished reading it really quickly and it’s amazing. It is a good book no doubt but it’s not exactly an easy read. The novel is about an American Chinese family. The book begins with the disappearance of Lydia Lee; she is the middle child of James and Marilyn Lee and also their favorite. The book is set in the 1970’s in a small town in Ohio. The lives of everyone in the family are turned upside down once Lydia’s body is found at the bottom of a lake. The narrative then encompasses each of the family members perspectives and it shifts from past to present.

The book is written beautifully, every single emotion felt by the characters is described so perfectly, there is never a sense of detachment towards any characters because of this. The oldest son Nath is such a sympathetic character, he is brushed aside by his parents his relationship with his father James is strained because Nath is different than the person James wants him to be. Hannah is the youngest daughter and she is pretty much neglected by everyone in the family. The tone of the book lingers in sadness from the start but Hannah’s chapters just hits you hard; she is a quiet little girl who is the most observant one in her family, she blends in the background so often that the characters don’t even know if she is in their presence.

In the beginning, I’ll admit Lydia’s character didn’t intrigue me much but as the story unravels I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She is the sole focus of her parents, she is pressurized by her parents knowingly as well as unknowingly. James and Marilyn pin all their lifelong hopes on her without realizing that it’s crushing her. As the past of James and Marilyn is slowly revealed through flashbacks you understand where they come from; James as someone who couldn’t fit in the “American” society and Marilyn who gives up on her aspirations and lives with regret.

The novel tackles sensitive topics like casual racism, sexism, and miscegenation without actually becoming a story about either of these topics. The subtleness weaved throughout the plot makes it much more effective and dramatic. All the characters are relatable and none of their emotions seem fabricated and the flow is very natural. The minor characters too like- Marilyn’s mother and Jack also play an important part in moving the plot ahead and it all adds up to the ending.

The dynamic between this family is tangible though I thought it was dysfunctional most of the time. Relationships between the characters at times are normal and at times are not, for example, Nath and Lydia. They are close but Lydia needs Nath a lot more as a support system than he needs her and the thought of him leaving for college disturbs Lydia. The plot stays focused on Lydia’s death and explores the lives of the family past and present through this incident.

The book was emotionally draining which was the reason I couldn’t read it as fast as I wanted to. It is a beautifully written book, it moves from past to present with perspective from each of the four characters seamlessly without the plot becoming confusing. The novel keeps you guessing from the beginning and you can’t wait to find out all the answers. I think it’s a must-read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

My Thoughts on “Eleanor and Park”

   Eleanor and Park 

                   – Rainbow Rowell

I wanted to read this book for months. Last week I finally bought a paperback copy for myself. It took me just two days to finish reading it because it was difficult to keep it down. The book is a refreshing take on a teen love story. The narration of the story is straight forward, it doesn’t digress and it’s both from Eleanor as well as Park’s point of view. Both the characters do not fit the exact mold of stereotypes shown in high school stories maybe that’s why they are so relatable because in reality very few actually fit the clichés we read about teenagers.

Eleanor and Park are two people who are very different from each other, not only their personalities differ but family backgrounds too. You can empathize with both of them but personally I felt really bad for Eleanor. Both of them have their own set of problems and an entirely distinct approach and perspective to them. All teenagers are a mess, some more so than the others; the book captures that turmoil pretty perfectly. Eleanor stands apart from the rest of the girls in school and is picked on for it but they don’t know how difficult her life is and being insensitive they just add to her troubles.

There are always such people around you especially in high school. It’s such little nuances that shine through in the book that keep you curious; you can’t wait to find out what going to happen next; it wasn’t what I had guessed. The inner conflicts the characters go through is portrayed so well that you feel all those emotions along with the characters and that is one of the reasons I liked this book so much.

There is sub-plot of identity crises in the story which as a Cultural Studies student was very fascinating to me but that might just be me overanalyzing the situation. Park struggles with his feelings for Eleanor because he didn’t think much of her in the beginning and it is a task for him to come out of that mind set. Like any teenager Park is concerned about the thoughts of his peers which prompts him to keep a distance from Eleanor which doesn’t work out. Eleanor on the other hand is guarded around people and I think she is incredibly brave in dealing with crises but she has a lot of baggage. Eleanor’s behavior stems from insecurity and anxiety that she has to live with every day.

There is a whole different dynamic to the story solely because of good characterization.  There are many popular culture references which emphasize the fact that the characters are teenagers and adds an element of reality. The serious conflicts in the story aren’t explicitly described in the novel but subtle hints are woven throughout the plot from the very beginning.

The plot of the book wasn’t overly complicated or dramatic in anyway but it leaves an impression on the reader, that’s for sure. The title of the book is the names of the two protagonists and the plot remains dedicated to them instead of going in other directions which has happened in the books I have read before. Overall I really enjoyed reading Eleanor and Park. It is not exactly a light read typical love story, there is a darker theme constantly underlining the plot and the tone of the novel. I am sure I will read this book again and enjoy it just as much as I did reading it the first time.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.