Author: Celeste Ng
Pages: 297 pages
Published: June 24, 2014
A parent’s worst nightmare, a child is missing, and that’s all the Lee family knows when they wake up one morning. Lydia Lee, the middle and somewhat favourite daughter, is discovered missing from her bed and lives are changed forever. This novel tells the story of a mixed-raced family living in Ohio in the 1970s and what lies beneath the surface of a perfect family.
Behind a happily married couple; lies James who has always wanted to blend in after always being the outsider because of the colour of his skin, and his wife Marilyn who wanted to be extraordinary and stand out from her male-dominated surroundings. Both have different ideas for their daughter, James wants her to be social at school and make friends, while Marilyn shapes her daughter for a life as a doctor, something she had always wanted for herself.
Lying in the wings is an older brother Nath, knowing that he was the second favourite to his sister. He knows the best of the struggles they both have to face living in their household. And yet, he was forging his own path, leaving for school in the fall and in doing so leaving Lydia alone to deal with their parents. Tie that in with the youngest daughter Hannah, who goes unnoticed in Lydia’s shadow, struggling to be seen in her family.
The novel tells the events that lead up to and after the disappearance of Lydia, and ultimately what happened to her. Telling of the strains James and Marilyn faced in their relationship because of their different ethnic backgrounds, the sibling dynamic between Nath and Lydia, and how a family puts themselves back together after a piece is taken away. The narrator floats from family member to family member, telling of their consciousness and the secrets they each hold.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “Before that she hadn’t realized how fragile happiness was, how if you were careless, you could knock it over and shatter it.” – Lydia Lee