The Mystic River and everything I never told you

Although, in both the movie “Mystic River” and the novel “Everything I never told you,” the characters experience the loss of a loved one, death is presented differently.  In the novel, “Everything I never told you” Celeste Ng introduces us to Lee’s, a Chinese American Family. In the story, Lydia Lee goes missing, and later her body found drowned in a lake. In this novel, the family is turmoil in dealing with the death of Lydia lee. However, in the movie, Dennis Lehane presents childhood friends who grew up together, and a tragedy of death separates them. In the film, Jimmy deals with the death of Katie brutally. Dave is considered a suspect in the case of Jimmy’s daughter. In this play, I will compare and contrast how the characters deals with the death of a child in the two texts.


Death of a child is handled emotionally

In both Mystic River and Everything, I never told you, death is seen as the source of pain and sorrows. The characters in the two texts are shocked when they heard news of the death of their loved ones. First, in the Mystic River, Jimmy was the one most greatly impacted by the loss of his daughter. Jimmy deals with the immediate trauma of the death of his daughter by lashing out at the police from blocking him from the body, he screams, and they hold him back. Moreover, to show the level of devastation in learning about the news of Katie’s death, Jimmy promises that he will kill the person responsible for the death of Katie, and there is no reason to doubt his statements, particularly after he gets a gang to run their investigation. In the film, the rage of revenge is seen.

Similar to the Mystic River, the victims in the novel “Everything I never told you” is also in grief when they heard the news of the death of Lydia Lee. When her body is found days later floating in a lake, her parents James and Marilyn, as well as her older brother Nathan, are devastated and shocked by the news. Ng confirms this by claiming that the death of someone’s son or daughter would be heartbreaking and horrific. Moreover, to read about it all the time in the media would be the experience of grieving even worse, because of the reminder about the death and the issues surrounding the case. According to Ng, “Marilyn wants to open the door and see her daughter there, asleep, one more time, and know all is well. The death of Lydia was shocking news to the family.

Death of the child is handled through separation

Both texts describe death as a cause of division among a family and friends. In the movie “Mystic River,” the three friends Sean, Dave, and Jimmy are childhood friends and are now grown-ups. Unfortunately, the death of Katie leads to the fall of friendship. First, Dave becomes a suspect in Katie’s murder after coming home with traces of blood he got from another fight in the street. Dave says, “You think I killed Katie, Celeste?” (63). Similarly, in the story “Everything I never told you,” Lee’s family is on the verge of breaking after the death of Lydia. The family seems divided since James is guilty and wants to take a path that might affect the marriage, and Marilyn is consumed by vengeance on whoever was involved in the murder of Lydia.

Death is handled through blame

In both texts, death is portrayed as the source of hate and revenge. To start with, in the movie “Mystic River,” Jimmy learns about the murder of Katie and decides to seek vengeance. Jimmy decides to pay some gangs to help in the investigation of his daughter. Finally, Jimmy ends up killing Dave, who was a suspect in the case. Similarly, the death of Lydia in the novel “Everything I never told you,” marks the beginning of hate and vengeance among the victims. Nathan “Lydia’s brother” is sure that the bad boy, Jack in the neighborhood, is largely involved in the murder of Lydia. In addition, Marilyn is vengeful and promises to do anything for the party involved in the murder case.


The two texts treat death differently. In the film “Mystic River,” the death of Katie is treated as a brutal murder accomplished by an unknown party. The victims are convinced that some people are involved in the killing of Katie. Prior to finding the body of Katie, the cops identify Katie’s car-clogged with blood. In the crime scene, in panic, Jimmy says, “My daughter’s car. It has blood in it. Why do you have dogs looking for my daughter, Sean?” In the play, the death of Katie is presented as a brutal murder because of the traces of blood found in her car. In this case, death is also presented as a painful situation for all the victims involved.

 On the contrary, in the novel “Everything I never told you,” the death of Lydia is perceived to be a murder by another party at first and later as suicide. During the first instance of getting the news, the victims had different resolutions concerning the death of Lydia. Immediately, Lydia’s body was traced, the balance that had kept the Lee family together was destroyed. James “, Lydia’s father,” is engulfed with guilt, and he takes a thoughtless direction that may adversely affect the marriage. In addition, Marilyn “Lydia’s mother” is shocked and vengeful. She is determined to get the responsible person regardless of the cost. In this case, death tends to cause division.


At the end of the movie “Mystic River,” death is described as an outcome of evil actions. In this film, it is described as a punishment for people who are perceived to have done wrong. Jimmy’s anger led him to kill an innocent man Dave for being a suspect in her daughter’s murder case. Jimmy admitted his regretful mistake to his wife Annabeth, I killed Dave, I killed him, and I threw him in the Mystic. However, I killed the wrong man. On the other hand, in the story “everything I never told you,” death is seen as a destination for depression. Despite the differences, the texts are similar in the way death is presented. In the two texts, death results in grief and emotional pain. In the novel, everything I never told you, the entire Lee family is grieving for the loss of Lydia. A similar case is seen in the play “Mystic River” about the demise of Katie.  

Work cited

Ebert, R. Mystic River. Chicago Sun-Times, 8.

Ng, Celeste. Everything I never told you. Penguin, 2015.

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