Author: Celeste Ng
“Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours 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 principal is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster or heartbreak.”
I can’t remember reading a book that was a well thought and thorough as Little Fires Everywhere. Title, plot, subplot, all of it connected so, so well, even if the ending left me wanting a bit.
A big part of why I liked this book was that it was realistic and therefore unfair. It wasn’t wrapped up in a nice little package where everyone hugs it out and looks out into the sunset. People were shitty, did shitty things, and hurt each other and that was it.
My interpretation of the title and how it connects to the plot was that the blaze that tore apart Mrs. Richardsons family and drove Mia and Pearl away had been started by the little fires that were stoked by her actions, the actions of her kids, and Mia’s actions.
I hated a good amount of the characters in this book and not at one point did it take anything away from it. Just added another layer to the realism. Mrs. Richardson and her kids got the brunt of ire. Mrs. Richardson because she was so damn nosy, vindictive, and self-serving despite being subpar and insecure herself. The fact that she treated Izzy like a leper 24/7 and didn’t stop her other children from doing the same was deplorable. Her kids acted like her and treated Izzy like crap too.
The whole conflict that started it all could have been avoided had Mia minded her own business as well. Or if she had just been more discreet. But again, it was totally in line with Mia’s caring, mothering attitude. It made for a good story but it caused such a mess.
Like I said, the ending of the book burned me a little because I wanted so badly for all of Mrs. Richardson’s stupid assumptions that she made when she stuck her nose into everyone’s business to be shattered. I guess in the end she suffered but I don’t know, I’m a sucker for just desserts and happy endings. However, I couldn’t tell you who the protagonist was in the book. Both Mia and Mrs. Richardson thought they were doing the right thing.
I would recommend this book. It takes a lot of talent to make a story about two white women who couldn’t mind their own business into such a good book.