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.
Synopsis from hardcover book, 338 pages, copyright 2017 and published by Penguin Press.
I was looking forward to reading Celeste Ng’s latest book Little Fire Everywhere because it had such raved reviews.
I have read Ng’s first book, Everything I Never Told You and thought it was okay, although I did have some issues with it. See the review here.
Going into the book I didn’t have high expectations. I was just expecting it to be slow and hoped I would click with it and like it more than her first book.
I was surprisingly pleased that Little Fires Everywhere exceeded my expectations. I wasn’t really anticipating it to be so good! It was a compelling read and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Here’s the breakdown of this fantastic book!
I definitely enjoyed the story line. The novel starts with a fire at the Richardson’s house in Shaker Heights and goes backwards to tell how you end up there.
Whilst the overall plot was about the battle of the adoption of the Chinese-American baby, I found myself enjoying Mia’s backstory and her journey in becoming an artist the most.
Ng’s writes well and her novel is compelling. I was astonished that I enjoyed Ng’s style of writing so much more than her first book.
Ng’s story telling ability is excellent in this book. She weaves a tale that is balanced with great characters and a pace that is just right so you keep on turning the pages with eagerness.
I was won over with the author’s adeptness in creating characters that were so real. The scenarios that were depicted, particularly in the Richardson’s kids, were especially true to life.
Little Fires Everywhere had a bunch of interesting characters that were well thought out and developed. Both Mia and Pearl and the Richardson family were characters that were believable and you could imagine what they would do because you get to know them intimately.
The strength of the book was most definitely the great characters. I felt invested in their stories.
I particularly enjoyed Mia and Mrs. Elena Richardson characters the best as they are two very different people.
- Mia Warren
Mia is a single parent. She is an artist and is concerned with transformation. Her life and her choices made have shaped her to be what she is now. She lives for now.
- Mrs. Elena Richardson
Mrs. Richardson is a complex character. She is loyal to her friends and likes to play by the book.
At heart, she is a good person. She rents out her Winslow house not because she needs the money, but because it makes her feel good that she is doing the right thing by renting it to someone who deserves it or needs a chance.
The book raises some interesting themes such as motherhood, race and identity, family, secrets, adoption, love, friendship, teenage angst, depression to name a few.
Postpartum depression was a theme I could connect with, being a mother of three. I found Bebe’s story heartbreaking. I couldn’t imagine the desperation she must have felt to have done what she did.
I liked the ending and I thought the ending was realistic. It finished off with what happened right after the fire which was to be expected.
My Final Thoughts
I absolutely loved Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. It’s a riveting story of two very different families whose fates clash and become entwined.
Ng expertly crafted a character driven book with a tight plot that keeps you turning the pages!
The book is emotionally satisfying because it allows you to get into the characters. There were some heart-breaking events that made me sad.
The book is a compelling read. I highly recommend it!
Belong to a book club? Check out Little Fires Everywhere book club discussion questions!