Everything I Never Told You

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James Lee Character Analysis

James is the son of Chinese immigrants. Before their deaths, both of his parents worked in the cafeteria of Lloyd Academy, a prestigious prep school which James attended for free after passing the entrance exam. Although James was born in the United States, he never feels like he fits into American society. As an undergraduate and then graduate student in the history department at Harvard, he doesn’t have any friends. The subject of his research, cowboys, is rather ironic, considering that he feels racially marginalized and excluded from American culture. At the time James meets Marilyn, he is hoping to be hired as an assistant professor in the Harvard history department; despite being the best graduate student, James is rejected from the position, likely because of his race and social unpopularity. James’ consistent experience of racism and isolation affects his career, family, and personal happiness. While Marilyn relentlessly pressures Lydia to become a doctor, James projects his own deepest insecurities onto Lydia in the form of pressuring her to be popular at school.

James Lee Quotes in Everything I Never Told You

The Everything I Never Told You quotes below are all either spoken by James Lee or refer to James Lee. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Everything I Never Told You published in 2015.
Chapter 2 Quotes

It was as if America herself was taking him in. It was too much luck. He feared the day the universe would notice he wasn't supposed to have her and take her away. Or that she might suddenly realize her mistake and disappear from his life as suddenly as she had entered.

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee, James Lee
Page Number: 45-46
Explanation and Analysis:

When James and Marilyn meet, he is a lonely graduate student who has spent his life feeling alienated and unwelcome in the country in which he was born. To James’ surprise, rather than being put off by his status as an outsider, Marilyn is attracted to it. When the couple lies in bed together, James marvels at Marilyn’s “honey-colored hair,” which to him represents Marilyn’s identity as a “normal” white American. In this passage, the narrator describes how James’ joy at being embraced by Marilyn is tinged with anxiety that their union is too good to be true. Although James’ fears that “he wasn’t supposed to have her” are irrational, his sense that she will “disappear from his life as suddenly as she had entered” is actually correct.

From James’ perspective, his and Marilyn’s relationship seems inherently doomed because of their racial differences. James has internalized the prejudice and alienation to which he has been subjected throughout his life, and, as a result, he believes that he doesn’t deserve Marilyn. In reality, the biggest threat to James and Marilyn’s relationship is not their racial difference itself, but rather their differing attitudes toward social conformity (which are, of course, not unrelated to their respective racial experiences). Marilyn wants to excel and stand out, and she is drawn to James because she feels that he understands what it is like to be an outsider. Meanwhile, James is attracted to Marilyn precisely because she “fits in,” and he hopes that by being with her he will finally be embraced by American society. In reality, these differing views spell disaster for their union.

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Chapter 4 Quotes

When Nath had been born, then Lydia, Marilyn had not informed her mother, had not even sent a photograph. What was there to say? She and James had never discussed what her mother had said about their marriage that last day: it's not right. She had not ever wanted to think of it again. So when James came home that night, she said simply, "My mother died." Then she turned back to the stove and added, "And the lawn needs mowing," and he understood: they would not talk about it.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee, Doris Walker
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

After Doris’ disapproving comments at Marilyn and James’ wedding, Marilyn never talks to her mother again, and when Nath and Lydia are young children, she gets a call informing her that Doris has died of a stroke. This passage describes Marilyn’s reaction to her mother’s death, revealing Marilyn’s profound and sustained anger at Doris. It also illustrates the extent to which Marilyn shuts out the memory of her mother. Not only does she never speak to Doris again, but she also refuses to mention Doris to James and the children. Marilyn enters a state of denial about her mother, making Doris “disappear” from her life even before she is actually dead.

Early in their relationship, Marilyn and James establish a pact not to discuss the past, and this mutual understanding brings them closer together. However, the novel calls into question how sustainable such a pact could be, since it involves such extreme suppression. Not only does Marilyn cut off Doris completely, she also prohibits any opportunity for her children to know their own grandmother. Although this specific instance arguably prevents the children from the possibility of experiencing racism at the hands of their own grandmother, Marilyn’s repression and silence are part of a behavioral pattern that ultimately comes to have a damaging impact on the Lee family.

So part of him wanted to tell Nath that he knew: what it was like to be teased, what it was like to never fit in. The other part of him wanted to shake his son, to slap him. To shape him into something different. Later, when Nath was too slight for the football team, too short for the basketball team, too clumsy for the baseball team, when he seemed to prefer reading and poring over his atlas and peering through his telescope to making friends, James would think back to this day in the swimming pool, this first disappointment in his son, this first

and most painful puncture in his fatherly dreams.

Related Characters: James Lee, Nath Lee
Related Symbols: Water/Swimming/the Lake
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

James has taken Nath to the Y to encourage his reluctant son to swim with the other kids. However, once Nath is in the pool the other children deliberately desert him in the middle of a game of Marco Polo before taunting him with racist insults. Upon realizing what has happened, Nath furiously rushes to the locker room, refusing to say anything to his father. This passage describes James’ conflicting feelings as a result of the incident at the Y. James feels sympathetic to Nath, particularly as James himself has experienced a lifetime of prejudice, bullying, and exclusion. However, it is this very parallel that discourages James from comforting Nath and instead makes him want to react with violence.

The anger that James feels is arguably not truly directed at Nath, but instead at himself. James is frustrated and disappointed in his own inability to become “normal” and popular, yet he takes these feelings out on his son. This illustrates one of the dangers of parents attempting to live out their own ambitions through their children—it can lead them to blame their children for things that are not their fault.

Chapter 6 Quotes

Up there––eighty-five miles high, ninety, ninety-five, the counter said––everything on earth would be invisible. Mothers who disappeared, fathers who didn't love you, kids who mocked you––everything would shrink to pinpoints and vanish. Up there: nothing but stars.

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Since Marilyn’s disappearance, James and the children have been left in a depressed, despairing state. Marilyn’s absence haunts their days; they rarely leave the house and they spend most of their time sitting around aimlessly (and hopelessly) waiting for her to come home. Nath is able to distract himself slightly, however, by following the launch of the Gemini 9. It is at this moment that Nath’s burgeoning interest in outer space gains momentum, and this passage makes clear that Nath not only finds space inherently interesting, but he also relishes the way in which thinking about space shrinks the magnitude of the problems facing the Lee family.

While, to James and Lydia, Marilyn’s disappearance has become all-consuming, Nath channels his sadness and anxiety in a productive way, by obsessively learning as much as he can about space travel. Indeed, this could be identified as a major factor that distinguishes Nath from his sister, and it is perhaps the reason that Nath is able to survive and flourish amid the turmoil of his family, while Lydia is crushed by it. Lydia never develops any real interests outside of her family, and thus the burden of her relationship with her parents takes over her life.

NaOH became Nath, his small face wide-eyed and reproachful. One morning, consulting the periodic table, instead of helium she thought He and James's face floated up in her mind. Other days, the messages were more subtle: a typo in the textbook––"the common acids, egg. nitric, acetic . . ."—left her in tears, thinking of hard-boiled, sunnyside up, scrambled.

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee
Related Symbols: Eggs
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

In many ways, Marilyn’s disappearance to Toledo is turning out exactly as she’d hoped. The logistical matters of enrolling in community college and securing accommodation have all gone according to plan, and Marilyn relishes the opportunity to return to academic work. However, this passage describes Marilyn’s intense longing for her family, as she is unable to put the thought of them out of her mind even as she is focused on her studies. The disdain that she once felt about cooking eggs in the different styles that each member of her family prefers has turned to a painful sense of longing for this act of love and togetherness.

Note, however, that even as Marilyn is haunted by thoughts of her family, she doesn’t quite seem to feel guilty about leaving. Although she misses her husband and children fiercely, Marilyn still doesn’t seem to feel that what she has done is wrong. This suggests that, although Marilyn loves her family, her resentment of the traditional role of a housewife is perhaps even greater than that love.

She followed him all the way to the lake and to the end of the little pier. The houses on the other side of the water looked like dollhouses, tiny and scaled-down and perfect. Inside, mothers were boiling eggs or baking cakes or making pot roasts, or maybe fathers were poking the coals in the barbecue,

turning the hot dogs with a fork so that the grill made perfect black lines all over. Those mothers had never gone far away and left their children behind. Those fathers had never slapped their children or kicked over the television or laughed at them.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee
Related Symbols: Water/Swimming/the Lake, Eggs
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

James has driven Marilyn back to Toledo to collect her belongings from the apartment she’d been renting, leaving Nath and Lydia with Mrs. Allen, who promptly falls asleep in front of the television, leaving the children to wander off to the lake unaccompanied. This passage describes what Nath and Lydia can see when they gaze across the lake—rows of “dollhouses” in which the children imagine happy families free of abnormality and strife. Note that this domestic happiness is imagined in terms of food, a recurrent theme throughout the book. Although making eggs and grilling hot dogs are simple, everyday acts, they represent the stability, care, and normalcy that are missing from Nath and Lydia’s lives.

The fact that the houses are on the other side of the lake emphasizes the notion that the Lees are barred from accessing this happiness and normalcy by a mysterious and powerful force. However, this distance also means that Nath and Lydia do not see the real truth of the lives of the people who live on the other side of the lake. Although the houses look idyllic from a distance, this appearance could be deceiving. In all likelihood, the families in those houses may be suffering from similar problems to the Lees.

Chapter 10 Quotes

"I am disappointed." Marilyn's head snaps up. "l thought you were different." What she means is: I thought you were better than other men. I thought you wanted better than that. But James, still thinking of Marilyn's mother, hears something else.

"You got tired of different, didn't you?" he says. "I'm too different. Your mother knew it right away. You think it's such a good thing, standing out. But look at you. Just look at you."

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee (speaker), James Lee (speaker), Doris Walker
Page Number: 242
Explanation and Analysis:

Marilyn has discovered James’ affair, and has been spitefully questioning him about Louisa. She even suggests that Louisa would make a “nice little wife” and says that Doris spent her life trying to make Marilyn into the kind of woman that Louisa is. The mention of Doris infuriates James, who points out how much of a “disappointment” he was to Marilyn’s mother. In this passage, both James and Marilyn speak about disappointment, but mean two completely different things. Crucially, Marilyn does not fully explain her reasons for feeling disappointed in James, instead silently thinking “I thought you were better than other men.” This allows James to convince himself that Marilyn’s disappointment is not rooted in his affair, but in his race.

James also assumes that because Marilyn is white, she does not really know what it means to stand out, and thus cannot be said to have truly desired it. To some extent, James’ words suggest that he preemptively pushed Marilyn away on account of his belief that she would eventually grow tried of him. In reality, Marilyn has not grown tired of being marked as “different” due to her interracial marriage, but rather she is demoralized by playing the role of housewife and learning that James has cheated on her regardless of her sacrifices for their family. To Marilyn, the fact that she and James have collapsed into gender stereotypes is the greatest disappointment of all.

“I didn't care. I knew what I wanted. I was going to be a doctor." She glares at James, as if he has contradicted her. “Then—fortunately—l came to my senses. I stopped trying to be different. I did just what all the other girls were

doing. I got married. I gave all that up." A thick bitterness coats her tongue. "Do what everyone else is doing. That's all you ever said to Lydia. Make friends. Fit in. But I didn't want her to be just like everyone else." The rims of her eyes ignite. "I wanted her to be exceptional."

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee (speaker), Lydia Lee, James Lee
Related Symbols: Doctors
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

The argument that began about James’ affair has escalated into a discussion of why both James and Marilyn feel dissatisfied with their life together. James has accused Marilyn of not truly understanding what it feels like to be socially marginalized, and Marilyn has replied that she experienced marginalization constantly as a female science student at Radcliffe. In this passage, she argues that this exclusion didn’t matter to her, because she was so fixated on her goal of becoming a doctor. Her words suggest that she blames James not only for ruining her own ambitions, but also for ruining Lydia’s. James’ pressure on Lydia to “fit in” directly contradicted Marilyn’s desire for her to stand out as an exceptional student and future doctor.

For the first time, James and Marilyn acknowledge that the pressures they put on Lydia pulled her in completely different directions. Although they do not say so explicitly here, the implication of this is that they are in some way responsible for Lydia’s feelings of sadness and alienation and, by extension, for her death. However, while Marilyn positions herself as an innocent party who simply wanted the best for Lydia, this does not, of course, represent the whole truth. In reality, both James and Marilyn put unjust and unwarranted pressure on Lydia and both of them made Lydia feel as if there was no way to be herself without disappointing them.

You loved so hard and hoped so much and then you ended up with nothing. Children who no longer needed you. A husband who no longer wanted you. Nothing left but you, alone, and empty space.

Related Characters: Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Doris Walker
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

Marilyn and James’ argument has come to a dramatic conclusion and Marilyn has ordered James to leave the house. After he goes, Marilyn sits and thinks about all the years Doris spent alone before her death. Suddenly, Marilyn feels a strong sense of identification with her mother’s isolation. Despite all the years of love, care, and work that both women put into their family life, both end up alienated from those closest to them.

Marilyn arguably exaggerates her own status as an innocent victim of her family’s desertion here; it was, after all, she who abandoned her family before her family abandoned her. On the other hand, Marilyn’s point about isolation speaks to more fundamental truths than just her own particular situation. Throughout the book, family life is shown to be more fragile than is commonly assumed, and Lydia’s death (and its consequences) highlight how easily family ties can be broken, cutting members of a family off from one another.

Chapter 11 Quotes

That long-ago day, sitting in this very spot on the dock, she had already begun to feel it: how hard it would be to inherit their parents' dreams. How suffocating to be so loved. She had felt Nath's hands on her shoulders and been almost grateful to fall forward, to let herself sink… Don't let me sink, she had thought as she reached for his hand, and he had promised not to when he took it. This moment, Lydia thought. This is where it all went wrong.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee, James Lee, Nath Lee
Related Symbols: Water/Swimming/the Lake
Page Number: 273-274
Explanation and Analysis:

After learning about Jack’s love for Nath, Lydia reaches a kind of breaking point. That night, at 2am, she sneaks out to the lake. While sitting on the dock, she thinks about the day when Nath pushed her into the water, concluding that “this is where it all went wrong.” Lydia’s thoughts in this passage reveal a curious mix of perceptiveness and irrationality. On the one hand, Lydia has a sharp understanding of the way in which her parents’ attention has been “suffocating,” such that she has crumbled under the pressure of James and Marilyn’s love. On the other hand, her interpretation that the day in which Nath pushed her into the lake was the single moment “where it all went wrong” is arguably naïve; as the book shows, the problems in Lydia’s life originated decades before she was even born.

Lydia articulates two contradictory feelings about the prospect of “disappearing” into the lake; she feels relieved to disappear even as she also resolves to take Nath’s hand and let him pull her to the surface. These conflicting feelings provide an insight into why—in only a few minutes from this scene—Lydia jumps into the lake and drowns herself. Part of her hopes to “stay afloat” using the support of her brother, as well as her own determination, to survive. However, throughout her life the lake seems to have been pulling her toward it, beckoning her with the temptation to escape everyone’s attempts to control her life and to succumb to the mysterious power of the water.

Chapter 12 Quotes

What made something precious? Losing it and finding it. All those times he'd pretended to lose her. He sinks down on the carpet, dizzy with loss.

Then he feels small arms curling round his neck, the warmth of a small body leaning against him.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, James Lee, Hannah Lee
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:

After driving aimlessly to Toledo, James turns around and heads home. Once there, he finds no sign of Marilyn or Nath, only Hannah sitting alone in the living room. The two of them play a game that James used to play with Lydia where he holds Hannah on his back and pretends that he can’t find her. In the midst of this game, James is overcome by the painful irony that he spent years playing that he had “lost” Lydia, only for that game to come horrifically true. His reflection about things becoming precious through being lost and found suggests that—even in the midst of the Lee’s pain at losing Lydia—new and positive things may flourish in her absence. This sense of hope is symbolized by Hannah’s arms around James’ neck.

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James Lee Character Timeline in Everything I Never Told You

The timeline below shows where the character James Lee appears in Everything I Never Told You. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...marked Lydia’s physics homework and placed it next to her bowl of cereal; Marilyn’s husband James is already on the way to work. At home, Lydia’s brother Nath yawns, and Lydia’s... (full context)
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So far, James’ day is still normal; he is sitting at his desk marking a student’s poorly-written essay... (full context)
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...that the undergraduates in the course they are teaching don’t know much about geography, and James responds, “Well, this isn’t Harvard.” Louisa reassures him that he shouldn’t blame himself and that... (full context)
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The police tell James and Nath that lots of teenagers run away from home, and that often teenage girls... (full context)
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...to cheer her up, but it didn’t work, and Lydia is scowling in the picture. James tells the officers to use a different photo, so people don’t think Lydia “looks like... (full context)
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The police leave, after instructing James and Marilyn to write a list of Lydia’s friends who might be able to help... (full context)
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James calls each of the friends on the list, but none of them have any idea... (full context)
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On Wednesday morning, James calls Officer Fiske again, but there is no news. Hannah and Nath stay home from... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...them. Marilyn herself had once disappeared and she had always wanted to “stand out,” whereas James wanted to “blend in”—both of which turned out to be impossible. In Marilyn’s first year... (full context)
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...a popular new course called “The Cowboy in American Culture.” The instructor is listed as James P. Lee, a fourth-year graduate student whom Marilyn expects to be Southern. However, when James... (full context)
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After the lecture, Marilyn goes to James’ office hours and nervously introduces herself. She explains that she is pre-med, and asks if... (full context)
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At the end of the second lecture, James asks to speak with Marilyn. He reminds her that he is her teacher, and that... (full context)
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When James’ parents immigrated to the United States, they had to do so under a false identity,... (full context)
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James attends Lloyd for 12 years, yet fails to make any friends. He hopes his social... (full context)
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...fact, she worries about what she would (or wouldn’t) tell Doris about her relationship with James. Marilyn explains to James that Doris is a home ec teacher and that “Betty Crocker... (full context)
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In the spring, James waits to hear if he will be hired into Harvard’s history department. The head of... (full context)
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Marilyn phones Doris and tells her that she and James are getting married. She explains that James is just finishing his PhD in American history,... (full context)
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...a church. She tells Marilyn “it’s not right” and says that she will regret marrying James. She urges Marilyn to think of her future children, saying “you won’t fit in anywhere.”... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...see would be Lydia’s, not those of her husband or other children. In reality, however, James has insisted on a closed-casket funeral, which means that Marilyn does not get to see... (full context)
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School has been closed for Lydia’s funeral, and many of her classmates are in attendance. James and Marilyn barely recognize Karen Adler or Lydia’s other “friends,” as it has been years... (full context)
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...was with Lydia on Monday night. Their conversation is interrupted, however, by the approach of James, Marilyn, and Janet. James hisses at his son, asking why he is “picking a fight”... (full context)
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James angrily tells Nath that he is driving Marilyn and Hannah home, and that when Nath... (full context)
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...purposefully avoiding his family. Marilyn and Hannah are also in their rooms. After the funeral, James is tempted to lie with his wife in bed, but instead he heads to his... (full context)
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Louisa knocks on James’ office door, still in the outfit she wore to the funeral. She gently takes the... (full context)
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At Louisa’s apartment, James awakens with a start and hastily gets dressed. He tells Louisa “Goodnight” and rushes out... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...She is irritated by the knowledge that her life turned out exactly how Doris wanted. James insists that they go to the Christmas party, as he is up for tenure and... (full context)
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James is not keen on the idea of Marilyn working for Tom; he thinks it will... (full context)
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Back in Middlewood, James is unable to cook eggs properly for the children, who constantly ask when Marilyn is... (full context)
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James notices that Nath is “It” in a game of Marco Polo, but that the children... (full context)
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Back at home, James wants to comfort Nath but feels that telling him “it gets better” would be a... (full context)
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That night, Marilyn tries to “memorize” James’ body as they have sex. James can tell something is wrong, and he tries to... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...would have spent time on the lake; Lydia would cover herself in baby oil and James and Nath would swim. Now, they will never go to the lake again. No one... (full context)
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...not have left on her own accord and that “some nutcase” must have kidnapped her. James sighs, wanting to argue that they could not have changed Lydia’s fate with a more... (full context)
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James responds that he doesn’t think a “nutcase” took Lydia. Just then, Officer Fiske arrives, and... (full context)
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Inside, Marilyn is furious at James for dismissing her suggestion that a stranger was involved in Lydia’s death. James accuses her... (full context)
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Without verbally agreeing to do so, both Nath and Hannah head to the lake. Meanwhile, James circles the lake in his car, replaying Marilyn’s words in his mind and feeling a... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...this summer, but they cannot escape its haunting legacy. Every morning while Marilyn is gone, James calls the police to see if he can do anything more to help. However, Officer... (full context)
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When James and Marilyn married, they made a pact to “forget about the past.” Now that Marilyn... (full context)
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On the way back from a trip to the grocery store, Mrs. Allen waves to James and says she hasn’t seen him in a while. She asks after Marilyn, and James... (full context)
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...that the reality of his own life fades from his mind. One Sunday, Nath asks James excitedly if he can believe that “people can go practically to the moon and still... (full context)
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...her family. She misses them so much that she regularly calls the house, although when James picks up she never says anything. James answers no matter what time it is, and... (full context)
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...in a blur. Someone asks for her husband’s number, and Marilyn gives it unthinkingly. Suddenly James is there, holding her hand and telling her that the family has “missed her so... (full context)
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When they arrive home, Lydia and Nath are at the kitchen table. James announces, “Your mother’s home,” even though the children can plainly see her in front of... (full context)
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...which they enthusiastically read together. Lydia says “yes” to everything Marilyn suggests. Two weeks later, James and Marilyn drive to Toledo to collect Marilyn’s things, leaving the kids with Mrs. Allen.... (full context)
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At Middlewood Elementary’s welcome-back picnic at the beginning of the school year, Nath and James enter the father-son egg race. They are in first place until Nath trips and breaks... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...world is shaken by dramatic political events, yet the Lees remain “bound” together by Lydia. James continues to be affected by incidents of racism, his despair only mitigated by the sight... (full context)
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Every evening at dinner James and Marilyn talk to Lydia at length about social and academic pursuits, before briefly turning... (full context)
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...“genius” and continues to plan ways for Lydia to skip ahead in science, a prospect James endorses, as it will give Lydia the opportunity to socialize with older students. Lydia hides... (full context)
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...Although Nath dreams of attending a science-focused university like MIT or Caltech, he knows that James will only approve of Harvard. Nath dreams of “leaving everyone behind,” including Lydia. At 15,... (full context)
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...he has been admitted. He smiles up at Hannah, telling her that he got in. James enters, puts a hand on his son’s shoulder and let’s out a strained “Not bad.”... (full context)
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...days working with Lydia on physics problems. Lydia memorizes the answers to and waits for James to intervene, but he doesn’t. Only on Christmas morning does Marilyn finally unpin the test. (full context)
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...acting as a “team,” protecting each other from their parents’ disapproval. Now Nath watches as James gives Lydia a present. Usually James leaves all the Christmas shopping to Marilyn, but it... (full context)
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James explains that the books are supposed to help Lydia “be popular.” Lydia tells James she... (full context)
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...better, but Marilyn, not yet satisfied, encourages her to ask for an extra credit assignment. James asks after a girl at school who he believes is Lydia’s friend. He then asks... (full context)
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Marilyn tells James to leave Lydia alone, and he replies that he’s “not the one nagging about her... (full context)
Chapter 8
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After Lydia’s death, James starts going on long drives. He buys sleeping pills, but the only place he can... (full context)
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James instantly wants to retract his words, but it is too late. Nath punches the countertop... (full context)
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When James tells Marilyn about Fiske’s call, she replies that the police can’t close the case when... (full context)
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James leaves and goes straight to Louisa’s apartment. She can tell something is wrong, and offers... (full context)
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Back in the present, Marilyn frets over James’ angry words. When she told James about Doris’ disapproval on their wedding day, she never... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...pressures her parents place on her—Marilyn’s obsession with ensuring that she becomes a doctor, and James’ constant badgering about social activities. At first Lydia tries not to mention Nath, but Jack... (full context)
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...over his initial anger, but Lydia is haunted by the incident. After a few days, James knocks on Lydia’s door, saying he’s noticed she’s been down and has bought her a... (full context)
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Lydia tells James that the necklace is beautiful, and James asks her to promise him that she will... (full context)
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Despite Lydia’s obvious sulking, James has no idea that there is anything wrong. When they get to the DMV, he... (full context)
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...cake in the shape of a driver’s license. While Marilyn is still icing the cake, James and Lydia arrive home, thereby ruining the moment of surprise. When Marilyn asks about the... (full context)
Chapter 10
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After Marilyn’s visit to Louisa’s apartment, James gets dressed in a hurry. He returns to find the house suspiciously peaceful and silent.... (full context)
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James mocks Marilyn for wanting to be different when she doesn’t know what it’s really like... (full context)
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On his way out, James passes Nath and Hannah, but says nothing to them. After James leaves, Nath grabs his... (full context)
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...to feel even more intense and frenetic than before. Nath thinks of the look on James’ face as he left the house, and vomits onto the ground. Meanwhile, James has been... (full context)
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James thinks about the way in which he has been branded as “different” from the moment... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...silver locket. Hannah quietly confesses that she thought Lydia didn’t want it. Remembering the words James said as he gave it to her, Lydia slaps Hannah and yanks the necklace from... (full context)
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On Monday morning Lydia wears lipstick and a beautiful dress James bought for her. At the breakfast table, James tells her “all the boys will be... (full context)
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...left” before exams begin. At dinner, Nath talks excitedly about his visit to Harvard and James occasionally joins in with nostalgic remarks about Cambridge. Lydia, meanwhile, barely notices the conversation taking... (full context)
Chapter 12
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James drives back home from Toledo, repeating to himself that “it is not too late.” Marilyn’s... (full context)
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When Marilyn comes downstairs, she finds James cradling Hannah, and remarks “you’re home.” James repeats that he is home. Marilyn kisses Hannah... (full context)
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...bruised and emotionally wrecked but “strangely aglow.” His thoughts stretch further into the future, imagining James becoming more at ease with his identity, Hannah growing up to resemble Lydia, himself looking... (full context)