Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Rating:           9

General Rating: Ng is an author to watch. The writing is fabulous—the best I’ve seen recently.

Favorite line: “Everything seems worse in the darkest hours of the night.” (So true!)

Skip factor:  2%. I skipped little.

Who should read:  While I believe this is more for women or young females, anyone who has experienced discrimination or who would like to understand the suffering of those discriminated against, should read. Because the novel includes a suicide topic, I would NOT recommend for YA.

Summary: The beginning reveals Marilyn’s and James’s oldest child, Lydia, is not alive, but the family doesn’t know it yet. An interesting premise, which hooks you immediately.

The novel tells the story of the Lee family who attempt to survive the devastating death of the favored child, Lydia. Each struggle with regrets. The mother, Marilyn, is an American who disappointed her family by marrying a Chinese man. James, a college professor, could not secure the type of position he wanted due to his Chinese ethnicity. Though they were in love when they married, Marilyn is disappointed that she never fulfilled herself. She leaves her husband and two older children to pursue her dreams but then returns, when she realizes she is a few months pregnant with a third child.

James and the two older children, Lydia and Nath, never mend from her leaving them, and when Marilyn returns, feeling she will never reach her full potential in life, she transfers her hopes and dreams to Lydia. Lydia works wholeheartedly to please her mother for fear she will leave them again.

Despite being the center of her parent’s hopes, Lydia is not the student Nath is. Overshadowed by his sister, Nath attempts to win his father’s support but always feels second to Lydia.

Both Nath and Lydia are ostracized for their ethnicity in school and learn to rely on each other. When Nath is accepted to college, Lydia has a hard time fathoming what her life will be like without him. Hannah, the youngest child, adores Lydia but hides in the shadow of both of her older siblings. She notices everything around her, possibly knows more about the family than anyone.

Characters:  

Lydia – I loved this character. Ng shows the inner struggles of teenagers who are discriminated against through this character.

Hannah – The sweet, youngest Lee child is ignored by the family. I wanted to know more about her throughout the entire book.  

Nath – Through Nath, Ng clearly depicts the cruelty of discrimination, because of both his and his father’s Chinese heritage.

Marilyn – I felt sorry for this character. The author makes her out to be a monster. And herein lies the reason I did not give this a 9.5 or even a 10 for the writing. This woman, clearly conflicted, was unintentionally too hard on her daughter. Yet she loved her. There was good and bad to her of course, but, maybe because I am a mother myself, I felt the overtone of the book conveyed only bitterness, no empathy toward her. (I wondered if the author had a rocky relationship with her mother and would love to see how she feels about Marilyn twenty years from now when she herself has grown children.)  

James – I liked the father but couldn’t connect with thim. James was hard on his son, adored Lydia, and ignored Hannah. He was a bit too business-minded for me. However, he too deserved empathy. He was a product of his past.

Other characters – Ng brought a few other characters into the mix when needed to enhance the family’s story.

Storyline:  This novel depicts the hardship and discrimination of an American Chinese family. The suffering of the Lee parents impacted how they raised their children. Neither were bad people, but they allowed their past to influence, harm really, their children—a characteristic often present in many families. While that family dynamics may be common, the effect that discrimination has on a family is explicitly told here.

Writing:  I cannot express how well written this novel is. The writing is possibly the best I’ve seen in years. I dawdled over it. The author told the story from an omnipotent view, which is tough and often frowned upon in today’s literary world. She makes the transition from POV to POV appear easy. This is one of those books that is so well written, you wish you had bought rather than loaned.

Read this author again?  Absolutely. I’ve already begun Little Fires Everywhere. Ng writes flawlessly. I’ll read anything she writes.

To find more good books click here.

Read on!

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CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and Friends Who Move Couches, women’s fiction. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

Will Wabtec help Erode the Middle Class?

The wealthy are stomping the middle class down to the level of the working poor. That’s how I feel about this entire Wabtec deal. The union is fighting for future Erie workers not simply current employees. And here’s a secret, I’m not exactly an all pro-union person. I get it. Unions aren’t perfect.

But they are at least attempting to keep middle-class jobs in Erie. So for those of you who are bashing the union for not bowing and curtsying in thankfulness to Wabtec for grandfathering current workers in with higher wages and screwing future workers, stop reading. This is my blog and my opinion.

To Wabtec

Even if you stay, and that is a very big if, you are simply offering our city low-income jobs. Period. There may be some employees grandfathered in at higher rates, but eventually, the only people who will be making a good wage on Wabtec products and services are people higher up the Wabtec ladder.

Who will you attract to take a $20 an hour job in a factory where it is sweltering in the summer and freezing in the winter? Once minimum wage increases to $15 an hour (and it eventually will) what kind of a person will take your job over easier jobs?

Mr. Sbrocco, you taunt you’ve offered 150 options to the union. Eh, you’ve merely restated the same offer in 150 different ways. The truth? In order to remain competitive in this world, you want to do so by keeping extremely high wages for upper management and lowering wages for everyone else.

Because, THAT, is corporate America in a nutshell.

To the union

You are more important today than you ever were in the past.

But you are not without error. You can’t support employees who do not deserve to be supported.  You also must not succumb to your own power.  And you must be absolutely open and honest with membership. (Post daily updates even if only a few sentences.)

To those who doubt unions defend middle-class America

Back in the 1950s, my father, Pat Filutze, was fired when his trucking company brought in a new boss. That man fired all of the Italians and African Americans. The Teamsters Union Local 397 stepped in and fought. My father got his job back.

My dad was a hard, hard worker. People eventually asked him to run for president of local 397. He did not feel qualified. He had quit school in eighth grade to help support his brothers and sisters. So instead, he ran for trustee and supported Joe Santone for president. Joe and my father were elected and served together twenty-four years before my father retired from both his full-time, truck-driving position and his part-time trustee position.

My father was far from rich, but he lived a good, decent life because of that union. AND that’s why we need unions. They support decent, living-wage jobs.

To Erie leaders

To the County Executive and Mayor, I like the two of you. You know I do. I’ve worked with both of you. But you can’t sit on your hands and hope this Wabtec problem resolves itself. Economic development is the survival of the fittest.

Instead of visiting China and arguing over a community college, please let the public know what you are doing for economic development in Erie so we can support you. (Have I missed an article on this? I’ve been out of town much in the past two years. Please tell me I have.) A trip to Silicon Valley would make more sense than China. Has anyone met with leaders in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Des Moines, Iowa, Boise, Idaho, or Provo, Utah whose business grew from 2011-2016 (https://www.inc.com/business-insider/35-up-and-coming-cities-with-job-opportunities.html.) (Anyone know of other northern cities surviving the erosion of the middle class? Please post articles in the comments below.)

You hired someone at the Chamber who purported to increase jobs and capital in another American city. “According to the chamber, Grunke has a track record of achievement. During his tenure with the Missoula Economic Partnership, the region added 10,000 new jobs and attracted nearly $1 billion in capital investment.” https://www.goerie.com/news/20180810/erie-chamber-names-new-ceo#

Were those low-income jobs?

“Bozeman and Missoula have fared well in terms of overall job growth, but their typical wages are actually below the state average — $35,900 in Bozeman and $35,500 in Missoula (including Ravalli County).” https://www.missoulacurrent.com/business/2018/11/montana-jobs/

We do not need more low-income jobs. We need decent, living-wage jobs.

(Somebody PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong about this. I truly want to be wrong. If you find a better article, please post the link in the comments below. I WANT better news.)

The “don’t-go-there” line

There is a line between the rich and poor that I refer to as the “don’t-go-there” line. I call it that because nobody wants to talk about it.

The concept is simple really. The people above the line have no income problems, and the people below the line can barely make ends meet. Some can’t at all.

Here’s the greedy secret:  The people above the line WANT to keep the people below the line right where they are. In fact, they want to push more people below that line because it means more for them. They also spend their entire lives pulling their own kids and friends and friend’s kids above the line.

My advice to anyone still reading is do everything you can to get your kids above that line because the eroding of the middle class is happening. With right-to-work states, the fall of unions, political bailouts, CEO bonuses, and make-America-great-again profiteers, our middle-class kids are in for the struggle of their lives.  My husband and I tugged and pulled and broke our backs to get our kids above that line. I hope you will, too.

Oh, and by the way, all three of our kids had to move out of Erie to break into that top half of the “don’t-go-there” line. Go figure.

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Cyndie Zahner has lived in the Erie community her entire life. She is a retired grant writer/administrator, and now writes fiction novels. Her husband, brother-in-law, and nephew-in-law work at Wabtec. Her brother, Mike Filutze, is a GE retiree. Her father-in-law, Edwin Zahner, was a proud GE employee for thirty-seven years. Follow Cyndie on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubLinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon. See her BookCircle Online interview here.

 

 

 

 

Support Erie & Have a Merry Read!

Need a last minute gift under $20? $15? How about under $4. Support your Erie Community. Stop at a local book store! Like Pressed Books.

Of course, I’d love you to buy my novels, but if you aren’t into thrillers, check out other Erie authors that Pressed flaunts. And bring your kids. They have a lovely reading area for children.

The last time I stepped into Pressed’s checkout line, three little girls and their mother were queued up in front of me. Each of the girls had their own money and paid for the books they purchased individually. The checkout was a slow process. Stepping up to a Pressed Bookscounter that towers over you alone took some time, not to mention counting dollar bills out, and change, too!

Annoyed? No way. I loved watching.

There is something about a book in hand in a child that sends a chill through me. The girls were excited for their purchase and so was I. So much so, that if any grandparents have grandchildren they need a last minute item for, I suggest they buy a big box and put a gift card to a local bookstore inside. Then take them after Christmas. Trust me–this gift is more for you than them.Pressed for kids.JPEG

And while you’re picking up those gift cards, can I interest you in The Suicide Gene under $20, Dream Wide Awake, under $15? (If you are more a kindle reader, they are available on Amazon at here  for under $3 & $6). Another author’s book?Or you may take a few moments to relax during the busy season for a great cup of coffee at Pressed, stop in at Pop Luck for some popcorn, or run over to Romolo’s for a shot of caffeine to keep you going.

Have yourself a Merry Read this Christmas!

_________________________________________                            Cyndie Zahner is the author of Dream Wide Awake, a paranormal novel that is totally fiction, but has been inspired by her own experiences. This is the first in a series of blogs about her inspiration behind the novel. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBubLinkedIn and purchase her books on Amazon.