Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 336 [Hardcover]
Publishing Date: September 12, 2017
Chapter One: Meet the Richardson family: Mr. & Mrs. Richardson and their four children, Lexie, Trip, Moody & Izzy.
Chapter Two: Meet Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. They live in an apartment which they rent from the Richardson’s. The two families are connected by the rental, but also because, upon moving in, Moody and Pearl instantly become close.
The Richardson’s beautiful, perfect house is burning down. Everyone immediately thinks the fire was purposely started by Izzy, the youngest of the Richardson children; evidence shows that there were “little fires everywhere” and an accelerant, most likely gasoline, was used.
After that shocking scene, we rewind to discover the months leading up to the fire and what exactly happened to provoke arson.
Little Fires Everywhere takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Shaker Heights is a “planned community”. There are an abundance of rules and regulations. The grass must be mowed before it reaches six inches tall. The houses must be painted a certain color and shade (depending on if you live in a Tudor, English, or French style home). The garages and trash cans cannot be visible from the street. The roads are meticulously curvy so that no one drives too fast. The purpose is to create an idealistic community.
Relatable to a number of things in this world, Shaker Heights appears perfect but turmoil and dysfunction lurk behind a number of doors. When this utopian community is confronted with issues of race, poverty, privilege, custody battles, and abortion, will they reflect upon themselves and grow? No, that’s too easy. They will point fingers.
I could not put this book down. The characters were immensely unique, yet entirely normal. Although there are a lot of characters, each with their own detailed personality and background, I never felt overwhelmed. If anything, I wanted to know more about everyone. Ng captured the behaviorisms and motives of her characters in a humanistic way that’s rare among novels.
Dedicated to doing this review justice, I’m going to turn to Jodi Picoult, author of a number of best-selling novels including Small Great Things, Leaving Time & My Sister’s Keeper. Picoult describes the emotion that this book evokes perfectly:
“With brilliance and beauty, Celeste Ng dissects a microcosm of American society just when we need to see it beneath the microscope: How do questions of race stack up against the comfort of privilege, and what role does that play in parenting? Is motherhood a bond forged by blood, or by love? And perhaps most important: Do the faults of our past determine what we deserve in the future? Be read to be wowed by Ng’s writing-and unsettled by the mirror held up to one’s own beliefs.” -Jodi Picoult
With that said – READ THIS BOOK! Little Fires Everywhere depicts a number of heart-wrenching yet frequently occurring issues in today’s society.
Additionally, I am loving the reoccurring theme of adult novels with teenagers/young adults as main characters (i.e. Marlena by Julie Buntin & The Lying Game by Ruth Ware).
My Next Read: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles