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 Richardson’s. 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 Richardson’s 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.
From the very first paragraph, Little Fires Everywhere started with a bang and kept me hooked throughout! Celeste Ng has written a very compelling, thought-provoking, character-driven story.
The Richardson’s have a seemingly perfect life. Perfect family, perfect town, perfect schools, that is until Mia and Pearl Warren rent a home from them. Mia is an artist and does not live the cookie-cutter life that is known as Shaker Heights. She marches to her own drummer and makes her own rules. Her daughter Pearl is extremely likable and smart and the Richardson children cannot help but be drawn to her.
The story is slow to evolve and allows us to see it from most of the characters’ perspectives. This is one of the best parts of the book, it often shows us how one can jump to conclusions when they “think” they know what is going on, when in reality they are very much in the dark.
This is the kind of story that makes you sit back and think. It deals with a number of excellent and even controversial subjects – class, race, adoption, and much more that I do not want to spoil for you. Needless to say I think this book would make a fabulous book club read!
One of my favorite passages:
“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.” – Mia
By the end of the story most of the characters grew significantly, especially the Richardson children. Each of them were profoundly affected by their newfound relationships with Mia and Pearl. For me, the ending of the book felt like it was missing something, but other than that it was a very enjoyable read.
I recently read that Reese Witherspoon has optioned this book for a series. As I was reading there were many times when I was imaging it play out on the big screen, so I was pretty excited to hear this.
This was my first book by Celeste Ng and will definitely not be my last!
My Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Press
Pages: 336 (eBook)