Title/Author: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Publisher: Random House
In a nutshell (Amazon):
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.
Verdict: Great for book club discussion!
Mia and her daughter Pearl rents a place from the Richardsons. All’s a bed of roses, until Mia and the Richardsons get tangled up in a conflicting custody battle of an Asian American baby, that involves an old friend of the Richardsons – the McCulloughs and a colleague of Mia’s. With Mia on one end, Mrs. Richardsons on the other, things get pretty ugly. And Mrs. Richardson isn’t going to lose this battle without a fight when she discovers that Mia has skeletons in her closet. As the story unfolds, its mystery unravels, opening up a can of worms.
Wow. This is so different from her previous book. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it and had to ruminate on it for a couple of days. So here’s what I think.
This book itself is Shaker Heights – perfectly planned and well thought-out, so are its characters, mostly unlikeable, except maybe Izzy and Moody who were my favorite. I loved them from the start.
It felt a little YA to me at times, with the messy teenage relationships, peer pressure and the reflections and thoughts from the teenagers in this novel. Did you feel the same way too? But of course, that isn’t a bad thing!
I always enjoy good, thought-provoking reads, and this is one of them. Many times, we mothers try to do what’s best for our families and loved ones, which might sometimes negatively affecting the lives of others in the process. This novel made me question:
Were mothers in this story doing the right thing for their families and loved ones?
Was it right for Mia to drag her daughter into her bohemian lifestyle as a struggling artist? Doesn’t her daughter deserve stability and a permanent place to live and study? And was it right for Mia to be helping her colleague with her daughter? Or should she have stayed out of the whole case?
What about the ever-perfectionist Mrs. Richardson? Was it right for her to dig up Mia’s past, just because Mia decided to help a friend out and was on the opposing side of the adoption case? I mean, Mrs Richardson herself, was trying to help a friend too, wasn’t she? So if she wanted to help her friend to win the case, she had every right to do so, hadn’t she? And can we blame Izzy for running away or even for being who she is? Does Mrs. Richardson really deserve to be treated this way? The tug and pull relationship between Izzy and her mom is as real as it can get.
And here’s my favorite. If you’re reading this part, please feel free to share with me your thoughts!
What about Mrs. McCullough? Does she deserve to be the mother of the Asian American baby? But how can she, when she was not of the same race? How much can she educate her child about her roots when she knew so little of it? Won’t the baby girl be better off with her biological mother? But the biological mother was the one who gave her away in the first place. Fighting for custody of the baby would be so unfair to the adoptive mother, who loved the baby like her own, wouldn’t it?
Expect complicated family dynamics, ups and downs of teenage relationships and peer pressure, small town politics, manipulative game play of cat and mouse, and motherhood struggles. Just don’t expect anything like ‘Everything I Never Told You’, which I still prefer.
Have you read this? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to read it? Please share with me your thoughts! And thank you for stopping by! xoxo