I’ve been trying to suss out how to describe my taste in books and the best I can do so far is to say that I prefer plot-driven to people-driven. You know those books about ordinary folks in small town and the life that unfolds around them? Not my bag, generally speaking. Celeste Ng is really the big exception.
I read her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, last year and loved it. So much. A mother and daughter and the life they stumble into in small town Ohio sounds like the last thing I want to read but damn if she didn’t make it compelling. This woman is magic and with Everything I Never Told You, she’s done it again (or done it before, this was her first).
Reading this book, I wasn’t initially convinced I liked it. I was enjoying it, but didn’t find it up to par with Fires. Then I would look back down and realized another hour had passed utterly engrossed and it was like the two halves of my mind were out of sync or something. Ng creates wonderfully complex characters and such beautiful stories, it really is incredible.
Bare bones plot, Everything is about a small family in small Ohio. Mom, dad, son, two daughters, living in the late 1970s. Their lives are utterly upended when the sixteen-year-old daughter goes missing and is found two days later in the lake and in that upending secrets and long-hidden fears are shaken loose. It’s ordinary and it’s compelling and I loved it.