Everything I Never Told You

Lydia Lee Character Analysis

Lydia is the middle daughter of James and Marilyn. At the beginning of the book, she has just died at the age of 16; after a few days, her body is discovered at the bottom of a nearby lake, and the rest of the narrative describes her family’s unfolding understanding of the cause of her death. To her parents, Lydia is docile and easy to please. Marilyn believes she wants to be a doctor and James thinks she has a close group of girlfriends—in reality, Lydia is a loner who struggles in her classes. She is the only non-white girl in her school, although she has inherited her mother’s blue eyes. Her only real friend is Jack Wolff, with whom she skips school and smokes cigarettes and who she (unsuccessfully) tries to persuade to have sex with her. Lydia has a close (if tormented) relationship with her older brother, Nath; once, Nath almost drowned her by pushing her into the lake, and when Nath gets into Harvard Lydia hides his acceptance letter. Officer Fiske ultimately rules Lydia’s death a suicide, though it is difficult to determine whether Lydia intended to die. Rowing out into the lake, she tells herself that she intends to return to the shore, yet she jumps in knowing that she can’t swim.

Lydia Lee Quotes in Everything I Never Told You

The Everything I Never Told You quotes below are all either spoken by Lydia Lee or refer to Lydia 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Everything I Never Told You published in 2015.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Upstairs, Marilyn opens her daughter's door and sees the bed unslept in: neat hospital corners still pleated beneath the comforter, pillow still fluffed and convex. Nothing seems out of place. Mustard-colored corduroys tangled on the floor, a single rainbow-striped sock. A row of science fair ribbons on

the wall, a postcard of Einstein. Lydia's duffel bag crumpled on the floor of the closet. Lydia's green book bag slouched against her desk. Lydia's bottle of Baby Soft atop the dresser, a sweet, powdery, loved-baby scent still in the air. But no Lydia.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee
Related Symbols: Lydia’s “Baby Soft” Perfume
Page Number: 1-2
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Everything I Never Told You quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 3 Quotes

Marilyn, unaware that her youngest is listening so closely, so longingly, blots her eyes and replaces the diaries on the shelf and makes herself a promise. She will figure out what happened to Lydia. She will find out who is responsible. She will find out what went wrong.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee, Hannah Lee
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 5 Quotes

The story––as it emerges from the teachers and the kids at school––is so

obvious. Lydia's quietness, her lack of friends. Her recent sinking grades. And, in truth, the strangeness of her family. A family with no friends, a family of misfits. All this shines so brightly that, in the eyes of the police, Jack falls into shadow. A girl like that and a boy like him, who can have––does have––any girl he wants? It is impossible for them to imagine what Nath knows to be true, let alone what he himself imagines.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Nath Lee, Jack Wolff
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in v

Chapter 6 Quotes

The summer Lydia fell in the lake, the summer Marilyn went missing: all of them had tried to forget it. They did not talk about it; they never mentioned it. But it lingered, like a bad smell. It had suffused them so deeply it could never

wash out.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Marilyn Lee
Related Symbols: Water/Swimming/the Lake
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pa

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 7 Quotes

He must really hate Nath, Lydia thought. As much as Nath hates him. She imagined them in class together all these years: Nath sitting close to the front, notebook out, one hand rubbing the little furrow between his eyebrows, the way he did when he was thinking hard. Utterly focused, oblivious to everything else, the answer right there, sealed inside his mouth. And Jack?

Jack would be sprawled in the back corner, shirt untucked, one leg stretched into the aisle. So comfortable. So certain of himself. Not worried about what anyone thought. No wonder they couldn't stand each other.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Nath Lee, Jack Wolff
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure

Chapter 8 Quotes

It happened so quickly that if she were a different person, Hannah might have wondered if she'd imagined it. No one else saw. Nath was still turned away; Lydia had her eyes shut now against the sun. But the moment flashed lightning-bright to Hannah. Years of yearning had made her sensitive, the way a starving dog twitches its nostrils at the faintest scent of food. She could not mistake it. She recognized it at once: love, one-way deep adoration that bounced off and did not bounce back; careful, quiet love that didn't care and went on anyway. It was too familiar to be surprising. Something deep inside her stretched out and curled around Jack like a shawl, but he didn't notice.

Related Characters: Lydia Lee, Nath Lee, Hannah Lee, Jack Wolff
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 10 Quotes

“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Everything I Never Told You LitChart as a printable PDF.
Everything i never told you.pdf.medium

Lydia Lee Character Timeline in Everything I Never Told You

The timeline below shows where the character Lydia Lee appears in Everything I Never Told You. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Lydia is dead, but her family does not yet know this. It is May 3, 1977... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...car is still in the driveway, though this doesn’t tell them much, as last week Lydia failed her driver’s test. It is now 7:30 in the morning and Hannah asks if... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Marilyn calls the secretary at Lydia’s high school to ask if Lydia is there. Though she is tenth grade, Lydia’s first... (full context)
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...she has just graded were also of poor quality. From the back, she looks like Lydia, although Louisa’s eyes are brown, not blue. She is the first Asian student that James... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...angry with their parents without their parents realizing. Nath watches one of the officers touch Lydia’s “Baby Soft” perfume “as if cupping a child’s head.” The officers advise them that most... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Downstairs, Hannah shows the policeman a photo from the past Christmas. Lydia was in a bad mood and Nath tried to cheer her up, but it didn’t... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
The police leave, after instructing James and Marilyn to write a list of Lydia’s friends who might be able to help them discover where she is. Nath says nothing,... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...each of the friends on the list, but none of them have any idea where Lydia might be. Hannah sits under the table and touches Nath’s toe with her own, but... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...out to find him. He thinks back on the night before, the last time saw Lydia. He’d just come back from a four-day campus visit to Harvard, where he’d been thrilled... (full context)
Chapter 2
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
The narrator claims that everything began with Lydia’s parents and their own parents before them. Marilyn herself had once disappeared and she had... (full context)
Chapter 3
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
On the day of Lydia’s funeral, Marilyn thinks of how she would have wanted the last moment she saw her... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
School has been closed for Lydia’s funeral, and many of her classmates are in attendance. James and Marilyn barely recognize Karen... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...he is there. Jack asks how Nath is doing and says he is sorry about Lydia, to which Nath aggressively responds, “Are you?” As Jack turns to leave, Nath grabs his... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...house. He decides to listen in to the conversation from the outside, thinking that as Lydia’s brother he has a “right” to hear. Inside, Jack is explaining that Lydia was in... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...in bed, but instead he heads to his office, where he’s kept his copy of Lydia’s autopsy. It is lunchtime and the office is empty. Reading the autopsy, James thinks that... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...After they have sex, James falls into a deep sleep for the first time since Lydia’s disappearance. Meanwhile, at home, Marilyn tries to fall asleep but can’t. Eventually, she walks into... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
The objects in Lydia’s room remind Marilyn of who she hoped Lydia would be as an adult. Lydia had... (full context)
Chapter 4
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Back when Lydia is five and Hannah is not yet born, Middlewood College has a Christmas party that... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...since her wedding day, and she never told Doris about the births of Nath or Lydia. When she tells James about Doris’ death, she makes it clear that she doesn’t want... (full context)
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...who constantly ask when Marilyn is coming home. James takes Nath to the Y, leaving Lydia—who hasn’t yet learned to swim—with Mrs. Allen. James has been looking forward to spending time... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...Marilyn makes a series of increasingly sumptuous meals and an enormous pink birthday cake for Lydia. She is amazed that no one has noticed the secret hiding beneath her cheerful smile. (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...worried that she will cry again. She likewise avoids eye contact when kissing Nath and Lydia goodbye, but tells them to “be good.” After they go, Marilyn takes a barrette from... (full context)
Chapter 5
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
...have never discussed Marilyn’s disappearance, and thus Hannah has no idea that it happened. After Lydia’s death, Hannah feels confused and angry. She wants to ask Lydia what it was like... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Back at home, Hannah goes into Lydia’s room and retrieves a broken silver locket. She has promised Lydia she will never wear... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
James responds that he doesn’t think a “nutcase” took Lydia. Just then, Officer Fiske arrives, and informs the family that they have spoken to Karen... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Nath steps outside with Officer Fiske, thinking that if Lydia had been a “normal” teenage girl the police would have already understood what Nath knows—that... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...Marilyn is furious at James for dismissing her suggestion that a stranger was involved in Lydia’s death. James accuses her of being “hysterical” as a result of watching the news. Meanwhile,... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...his car, replaying Marilyn’s words in his mind and feeling a sense of responsibility for Lydia’s unhappiness and death. He had planned to tell Louisa that he loves Marilyn and that... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Marilyn cradles Lydia’s book bag, inhaling the “precious” smell of school. Suddenly, Marilyn notices that inside the bag... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...so angry with Jack. Nath tells her that he knows that Jack was involved with Lydia’s death. He adds that Lydia fell in the lake before Hannah was born, when Nath... (full context)
Chapter 6
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
The summer that Marilyn disappears is the same summer that Lydia falls into the lake. The Lee family never talks about this summer, but they cannot... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
...be taken to the lake. James refuses, saying he doesn’t want to “play lifeguard” to Lydia, who can’t yet swim. Nath angrily pinches Lydia’s arm and calls her a “baby.” (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Lydia, meanwhile, is plagued by torturous nightmares. The only reminder of Marilyn in the house is... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
When they arrive home, Lydia and Nath are at the kitchen table. James announces, “Your mother’s home,” even though the... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...Marilyn refuses to cook, buying only pre-prepared food. At the same time, she starts grilling Lydia constantly on math equations, and Lydia starts counting everything: hot dogs, hugs, fireworks. Marilyn buys... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Mrs. Allen falls asleep in front of the TV and Nath heads outside. Lydia asks where he is going, before eventually following him. They walk out to the lake... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...and he cannot stop himself from teasing Nath even though he knows he should. Next, Lydia and Nath enter the three-legged race and they immediately come tumbling down. The handkerchief tying... (full context)
Chapter 7
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...the 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... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Every evening at dinner James and Marilyn talk to Lydia at length about social and academic pursuits, before briefly turning Nath to ask how he... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
It is now 1976. Lydia is 15 and will be dead in five months. She is failing physics and has... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Under her mattress, Lydia has been hiding a letter informing Nath that he has been admitted to the Harvard... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...knows that James will only approve of Harvard. Nath dreams of “leaving everyone behind,” including Lydia. At 15, Lydia wears lipstick to school to seem grown up, but her Baby Soft... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...and let’s out a strained “Not bad.” Marilyn is more enthusiastic, kissing her son’s cheek. Lydia watches from the top of the stairs, noticing James smile at Nath in a way... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
At dinner, Marilyn interrogates Lydia, asking how she will feel if she is unable to find a job and ends... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Lydia dreads receiving her mother’s Christmas gift. Usually, Marilyn gives Lydia books that she really just... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
James explains that the books are supposed to help Lydia “be popular.” Lydia tells James she has friends, even though she knows this isn’t true.... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Lydia reads How to Win Friends and Influence People, which advises her to be a good... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Lydia works hard, and at the end of January Marilyn checks in to see how physics... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Marilyn tells James to leave Lydia alone, and he replies that he’s “not the one nagging about her homework.” Lydia silently... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Lydia sits in nervous silence; she has never been in a car with a boy her... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Jack asks Lydia about her blue eyes, and if she knows that she’s the only non-white girl in... (full context)
Chapter 8
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
After Lydia’s death, James starts going on long drives. He buys sleeping pills, but the only place... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...the day Marilyn returned home. Now it signifies that it has been two months since Lydia disappeared. James reads the newspaper, which contains an article on Lydia’s death. Karen Adler is... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...when “whoever did this is still out there.” She insists that the police don’t know Lydia, and that she, Marilyn, knows that Lydia would not have gone out on the lake... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Back home, Marilyn tells Nath and Hannah that the police have ruled Lydia’s death a suicide. Nath calls Officer Fiske and urges him to keep investigating Jack, but... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...trying to let him know that she understood. She knows that Jack did not hurt Lydia—that he has never hurt anyone. (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...tell him that she would have married him “a hundred times if it gave us Lydia,” and that he is not to blame for Lydia’s death. However, James doesn’t come home... (full context)
Chapter 9
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Three months earlier, Lydia is pleased to see that people are beginning to grow suspicious about her and Jack’s... (full context)
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Jack asks if Lydia will tell Nath he’s “not such a bad guy,” and Lydia smiles and says Nath... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Nath eventually gets over his initial anger, but Lydia is haunted by the incident. After a few days, James knocks on Lydia’s door, saying... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Lydia tells James that the necklace is beautiful, and James asks her to promise him that... (full context)
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Despite Lydia’s obvious sulking, James has no idea that there is anything wrong. When they get to... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Back home, Marilyn and Hannah prepare to surprise Lydia with an elaborate cake in the shape of a driver’s license. While Marilyn is still... (full context)
Chapter 10
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...hurry. He returns to find the house suspiciously peaceful and silent. Marilyn is sitting at Lydia’s desk. She asks James how long the affair has been going on, and he replies... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...she knew she wanted to be a doctor. Marilyn bitterly accuses James of always encouraging Lydia to fit in, while Marilyn “wanted her to be exceptional.” Marilyn adds that now James... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
...car keys and, in spite of Hannah’s protests, drives away too. Upstairs, Marilyn sits in Lydia’s room and thinks of all the years Doris spent alone in her house. Marilyn rips... (full context)
Chapter 11
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Days before Lydia’s death, Nath is desperate to leave Middlewood. As he packs for his campus visit, he... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Later that night, Lydia goes into Nath’s room, wanting to tell him about Louisa. She sees Nath on the... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
That evening, Lydia calls Nath’s host at Harvard; when someone picks up the phone, she can hear the... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
On Monday morning Lydia wears lipstick and a beautiful dress James bought for her. At the breakfast table, James... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Jack pulls away from Lydia and looks at her with kindness, but without lust. Hurt, Lydia asks if she’s not... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
Lydia runs home and finds Marilyn sweeping the porch. Marilyn suggests that they study for Lydia’s... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
The day Nath pushed her into the lake was also the day that Lydia first realized how “suffocating” it was to be loved as her parents loved her. She... (full context)
Chapter 12
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...They giggle, and James plays a game with Hannah that he used to play with Lydia; he would walk around with Lydia on his back, saying “Where’s Lydia?” James becomes dizzy... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Secrets, Lies, and Silence Theme Icon
Loneliness, Exclusion, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...again. It takes time for the family to learn more about what really happened to Lydia, and for the tensions between James and Nath to subside. Slowly, they begin uncovering things... (full context)
Appearances vs. Disappearances Theme Icon
Innocence vs. Guilt Theme Icon
Expectations, Ambition, and Disappointment Theme Icon
In the water, Nath thinks of Lydia, falling beneath the surface to the bottom of the lake. He wants to feel himself... (full context)