Mini Reviews: Everything I Never Told You, The House We Grew Up In and The Iceberg

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Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Five words from the blurb: murder, child, parents, mystery, relationships

I decided to read Everything I Never Told You because it was’s book of 2014 and praise for it seems to be everywhere. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else. It was very readable and contained a few interesting insights into the problems of inter-racial marriage, but the murder-mystery aspect was underwhelming and I felt the entire book lacked that magical spark. I’ve heard the same story many times before and, although this was better written than similar books, it didn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking. You should probably ignore this review though – everyone else seems to love it!


The House We Grew Up In 

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Five words from the blurb: hoarding, family, dysfunctional, relationships, secrets

This was chosen by my book club and the majority of the group enjoyed it. I had my reservations, but it did produce one of the most interesting discussions we’ve had so far. It contained some good observations on hoarding, but then meandered off on too many unrealistic tangents. Members of my group compared it to a soap opera and this think this is a good analogy. If you enjoy the non-stop, but shallow, actions of dysfunctional families then you’ll love this, but I prefer to read more realistic books.


The Iceberg: A Memoir Shortlisted for the 2015 Wellcome Prize

The Iceberg by Marion Coutts

Five words from the blurb: tumor, husband, grief, support, family

The Iceberg contains some of the most powerful descriptions of grief I’ve ever read. Marion Coutts explains what life was like in the 18 months between her husband’s diagnosis of a brain tumor and his untimely death.  It showed his gradual decline and the way this affected his friends and family. The writing was outstanding, but it was so vivid I felt I was reliving her pain. I’m afraid I wasn’t strong enough to continue reading and so abandoned this important book before the end.

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  1. As always, I love the 5 words you use to describe a book. Quick and to the point!

    1. Jackie says:

      Thank you for the kind words!

  2. Flo says:

    I’ve been very disappointed by Everything I Never Told You, the story and the writing, both being quite common; I really don’t understand the hype.

    1. Jackie says:

      Flo, It’s good to know I’m not alone!

  3. Athira says:

    I’ve been curious about Everything I Never Told You but like you said, the same formula has been done in so many books that I never really felt like reading it. It would be nice to read it for the inter-racial element though – I haven’t read too many books with that focus, other than it being a casual mention.

    1. Jackie says:

      Athira, The inter-racial aspects of this book are quite small, so I’m not sure it is worth reading it for that alone. Maybe give it a try and see if it grabs you?

  4. Michelle says:

    I felt the same way you did about the Lisa Jewell novel. Also, the title bugs me to no end because of the way it ends in a preposition. I almost didn’t read it because of that!

    1. Jackie says:

      Michelle, Yes, it isn’t a good sign when the title is badly written!!

  5. Lisa Hill says:

    Oh dear, I think this is really sad – to read three books like this and find them all disappointing.
    I haven’t read any of them, but *shh, don’t tell* I’ve left all the book clubs I’ve ever belonged to because they chose books that I just didn’t want to read. I felt obliged to read them, and then I found them disappointing. And then I resented the people who chose them. Silly, eh?
    But It seems a terrible waste of reading time to read things you don’t want to read because you have to, it’s like being at school.
    Are you going to go on with your project to read all the Wellcome Prize shortlist?

    1. Jackie says:

      Lisa, Sounds like you need to find a new book group! I’ve left one because the books didn’t suit me, but most of the books I read for my current one are enjoyable – I’m even pleased I read this one as the discussion was so interesting.

      Yes, I’m continuing to read the Wellcome Shortlist – it is a great list. They aren’t all to my taste, but the quality is excellent. I hope to have a summary post up soon.

  6. Diane says:

    I liked the audio of, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, but wow, what a way to screw up your kids – those parents!

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, I can see how it might have worked better on audio. Glad you enjoyed it more than I did.

  7. Annabel says:

    I am going to have to steel myself for The Iceberg I can see (bought it yesterday). I’ve never read Lisa Jewell, it seems she straddles that border between chicklit and mainline fiction which I always save for holidays!

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I’ve not read any Lisa Jewell before, but the writing was of a higher quality than I assumed it would be. Is is nearer chick-lit than anything else, but if you’re in the mood for something light (as in easy to read, not mood!) then I can see why this would be a good choice.

      I look forward to your thoughts on The Iceberg. If you finish it you are a stronger woman than me!

  8. I had a similar reaction to Everything I Never Told You. I thought the family dynamics were fascinating and the writing was good, but the mystery was lacking. I listened to it on audio, and the narrator was fabulous, but the ending felt so abrupt, partly because I didn’t realize I was listening to the final scene when I was. I am curious to see what Ng does next.

  9. Kinna says:

    Ha! I was beginning to wonder if anyone had a dissenting view on Everything I Never Told You. I’ll be reading it this year. Thanks for the review.

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