Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
Soon to be a Hulu limited series, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington
eBook includes special materials for book clubs: a Q&A with Celeste Ng and John Green, a letter from Celeste Ng, and book club discussion questions.
Named a Best Book of the Year by:
People, The Washington Post, Bustle, Esquire, Southern Living, The Daily Beast, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Audible, Goodreads, Library Reads, Book of the Month, Paste, Kirkus Reviews, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and many more!
“I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting.” –Jodi Picoult
“To say I love this book is an understatement. It’s a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears.” – Reese Witherspoon
“I am loving Little Fires Everywhere. Maybe my favorite novel I’ve read this year.”—John Green
“Witty, wise, and tender. It’s a marvel.” – Paula Hawkins
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
Perfect for book clubs! Visit celesteng.com for discussion guides and more.
MORALS <> ETHICS <> CIVILITY
Little Fires Everywhere is set in Shaker Heights, OH. It’s an ideal community. Meticulously designed with many rules to keep the appearance of being well maintained. Every little detail is designed to create an image, such as residents could only have flower gardens, not veggie gardens.
The story centers around two families with two additional families that come into play. The first family is The Richardsons. Mr. & Mrs. Richardson and their four teenagers: Lexie (senior), Trip (junior), Moody (sophomore), and Izzy (freshman). They’re the epitome of the ideal Shaker Heights family.
The second family is Mia and her high school daughter, Pearl. They live more of a gypsy lifestyle. Always moving to where Mia could find work as an artist – photographer.
“Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn’t, you might burn the world to the ground.”
The story opens up with the Richardson’s house burning to the ground. As the family watches the house burn they know who did it. It’s the families youngest daughter, Izzy, who is thought of like the rebel in the family. Mrs. Richardson finds Izzy to be a challenging child because she doesn’t conform to the rules of Shaker Heights.
At this point, the story goes back a little ways to show us what has lead up their house being burnt to the ground.
Mrs. Richardson has what she feels is a charitable heart. She owns a duplex type house where she rents to people she feels are worthy. She has deemed Mia and Pearl worthy of renting from her. Pearl will over time become friends with Moody and eventually the rest of the Richardson kids.
“It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?”
Mrs. Richardson’s best friend is in the process of adopting a Chinese baby that was abandoned at a fire station. Through some events that surrounded the Richardsons and Mia & Pearl the baby’s birth mom finds out that her daughter has been found. This starts a debate between all the families and ultimately the public on who should raise this baby. The court gets involved to decide whether the white well-to-do family or the Chinese mother who struggles to make ends meet is the actual family of this Chinese baby.
“Maybe at birth everyone should be given to a family of a different race to be raised. Maybe that would solve racism once and for all.”
This storyline had me on the fence. At times, I was for the people who wanted to adopted her and in the next moment, I was for the Chinese mother who had given her up. The question that rang through the court was should race matter when you want to raise a child from a different nationality?
“Most of the time, everyone deserves more than one chance. We all do things we regret now and then. You just have to carry them with you.”
Should the Chinese mother who was abandoned by the child’s birth father in a country she didn’t know be forgiven for leaving her baby at a fire station? A lot of issues are brought up that make the reader question where they stand in this situation.
“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”
There are a lot of secrets weaved through this story. The weight of those secrets can crush all these families worlds.The adoption of the Chinese baby is only the tip of the iceberg on everything happening in this story. There are so many secrets that once they start unraveling the reader can hardly put the book down. The secrets revolve around our moral compass. What is right and what is wrong. Overall the story deals with motherhood from many different angles.
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWERE is a standalone. It’s my first book by this author. I listened to the audio when I found out that Reese Witherspoon’s company, Hello Sunshine, is going to make this into an 8 episode miniseries on Hulu. Knowing that info I pushed myself to keep reading to find out why Reese picked this book to bring to the TV screens.
•To see more reviews by Amy click here•