A Critique – Celeste Ng’s Debut Novel

Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You reads like poetry, with beautiful elaborate descriptions of not only characters but scenes, emotions, and plot twists. It is writing to aspire to, in my opinion. A voice a lyricist would likely respect.

The novel takes its time unfolding, at times at a slower pace than desired. If it weren’t for Ng’s prose, I may have become frustrated with the speed and length of the book.

The themes – family, teen angst, self discovery, 1970s racism – are well portrayed, but I found myself recalling a similar plot within Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. Having adored that book and reflected on it so many times since reading it a few years back, I found myself comparing the two occasionally. The difference in time, tone, place, and dynamics however allow the reader to appreciate both writers’ work.

As a whole, Ng’s debut is enjoyable but leaves something to be desired – perhaps a bit more complexity, a few more pitfalls leaving room for further conflict and, later, potential resolution.

It’s important to note that there doesn’t need to be complete resolution though, especially in a novel where mental health is one of the main threads.

Overall, I would welcome a future book of Ng’s to my Reading List.

To read more about Celeste Ng and her work, visit her website.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars


The Blues

I was covering reception for a few hours one morning as a favour and a client came in. He was obviously on some sort of high from God knows what drug. He was visibly shaking and anxious. The caseworker he wanted to see wasn’t there and that just made him more nervous.

I asked him if he would mind giving me just a couple minutes so I could see when she’d be arriving. He sat down. Temporarily. All of a sudden, he jumped up and pressed the button for the lift and left a few moment later.

I knew something was really wrong. Solely by instinct. That’s when I sent 2 people running after him.

He came back and finally accepted help. Otherwise I’m not sure he would’ve made it through the day.

I was terrified for him. And for me. But it wasn’t about me. It was about giving this individual what he needed. And I’m so grateful he’s going to be okay.


I learned, days later, that this person was woefully suicidal. My instinct was more than a little on cue, as I thought. Chances are he wouldn’t have made it through the day. But he gave the hints I needed so that I knew he wanted help without having to voice it.

Suicidality is something for which we all have some responsibility. We have to take care of each other. And we have to learn to listen. Not everything is said aloud.