Little Fires Everywhere
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 reside...more
I also didn't like not knowing what happens to Izzy. While Mrs. Richardson is an awful mother to her, I do believe that she would spend the rest of her life searching for her. Partly because of the love I'm sure she has for her daughter, and partly because she's not the kind of mother, and the Richardson's are not the kind of family that has a wayward child who doesn't eventually straighten out and remain in the family fold, even if it's only for 3 days at Thanksgiving.
I would have liked to have had more introspection from Mia. Does she feel guilty about the child she stole? It's true Pearl is half hers, but she stole her away from Pearl's father and from his wife. She stole her away from her own parents as well.
Mia shows no sympathy for the McColloughs. Does she encourage Bebe to fight for her custody because Mia took custody of Pearl? If enough birth mothers win custody battles does that justify Mia's actions?
The McColloughs are portrayed as shallow and ignorant. Well meaning and kind, they would be shocked if anyone would perceive them as racist or elitist. The custody battle was the most contrived part of the book. In the end, I didn't like that the judge ruled in their favor, it's not realistic. Overwhelmingly the birth parent gets custody except in cases of abuse, so I struggled with that part of the book. Adopting a child from China was too much for me. Are they trying to replace the chinese baby they lost? is it one last attempt to make the McColloughs look bad? Why do we have to hate them? They suffer as much as or perhaps more than out heroine Mia, and we don't hate her.
I didn't think Trip was developed enough as a character. Why did we have to learn about his insecurities and true love for Pearl at the very end of the book? I would have wanted to see his reaction to Pearl's abrupt departure. I also would have wanted to see how it would have affected his relationship with his mother and brother.
I could go on and on. I truly enjoyed and got lost in this book. I couldn't put it down. So often I read a wonderful novel and feel like it's not really complete. Three hundred pages isn't nearly enough for a book with over 6 main characters and back stories. Maybe it's publishers who press deadlines or authors in a hurry to get to the next book, I'm not sure, but I will keep looking for larger tomes to feel fully satisfied at the end of a novel. While I loved this book, it feels incomplete.(less) (hide spoiler)]
Forever at war with the order of the dark and starlit soul
—Adrienne Rich, “8/1/68”
The nonconformist has always been at war with the suburbs—Adrienne Rich was writing about it 50 years ago, and she surely was not the first. I can understand this dichotomy; I myself have certainly experienced suburbs where a high level of conformity seemed to be expected, resulting in a weird high-school atmosphere among grown adults. Still, you really don’t have to dig ...more
All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control.
4 1/2 stars. You should go into this book expecting what it is: a slow-moving character portrait filled with complex family dynamics and small-town politics. If you know what this is, like with Ng's Everything I Never Told You, and don't go into it expecting fast-pacing and high-octane drama, you will probably find this quiet read to be extremely engrossing and emotional.
I have to be ...more
Little Fires Everywhere is such an apt title for a novel that delves into the intricacies and angst that undoubtedly burns through some relationships—maybe none more so than mother and daughter. At its core, this story explores the notion that being a mother doesn’t mean being perfect; it comes down to love, sacrifice and sheer will. Through her cast of captivating characters, Celeste Ng confronts the reality that haunts us all—each and every one of us is rife with cracks and flaws, ...more
“Little Fires Everywhere” is my first read by Celeste Ng, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be my last. I could easily have read this book in just one or two sittings but life got in the way (in this case life being a glass of 7up, a knee jerk and “Nooo! Save the books!”). But once the book was dry, I picked it up again and didn’t stop until I finished the last page.
Everything in Shaker Heights is planned and there are ...more
If this book does not get your brain churning, well, then you did not read the same book I just did!
This book is filled with so many scenarios with so many questions and no perfect answers. Every situation is a little pile of kindling and any of the questionable solutions will only ignite the fire . . . soon you have a bunch of fires ready to burn everything to the ground. Man, that would be a great title for this book! Oh . . . wait . . .
It has been a long time since I remember reading a b ...more
“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.”
Never in my life have I read any book, any narrative, that cared as deeply for all of its characters as this one did. Little Fires Everywhere lives in the grey area, leaving it impossible not to be invested, impossible not to love every character and cry for every character and root for every character, despite all their flaws.
I really struggle to chara ...more
Here's is my problem....
I feel as if I've read this story before. I was only mildly interested in many scenes.
There were parts I found trite and parts I found semi boring.
Personally - I found the characters to be very one dimensional.
Here's another problem I have:
Yesterday I finished reading "In The Fall They Come Back", by Robert Bausch. I saw a ...more
Sometimes one of my greatest frustrations with books I read is that it is difficult for me to believe that a character would do something egregious as a knee-jerk reaction to something they don't agree with. I know, I'm reading fiction, which isn't always directly based on real life, but sometimes a character's actions are so ridiculous and ring so false that they really change my feelings about a book.
Other times a character is so unlikabl ...more
Just like in a mystery book, you have to work at getting to the root of her stories. She doesn't hand you the plot from the get-go, but instead offers you kernels of the story until everything comes together at the very end. Although this can lead to frustration or boredom, especially with the sometimes barebones plot, I loved it.
I'm very much a character-focused reader, and this was very much a character-focused novel. Th ...more
I liked Mia’s backstory as she became an artist using experimental photography. I thought that the custody dispute concerning “Oriental Barbie” was worth at least a star or two.
A lot of the characters are clichéd. The at-home Mr. Richardson could be a cardboard cutout with excellent earning skills. He fairs a lot better befor ...more
Three years later and I'm happy to say that Ng has returned with just as stunning of a novel as her debut. Little Fires Everywhere is hands down one of the best books I've read this year; and just like its predecessor will be rising to the top of my yearly f ...more
Little Fires Everywhere is a novel that far surpasses any other that I have ever read. I don't know how Celeste Ng did it. It is a brilliantly written novel with intricate, rich and wholly vivid characters whose lives are so fully intertwined you can't help but read on in bewildered awe of how Celeste Ng created these characters. My nerve endings were fully engaged on high alert from the first sentence.
Shaker Heights, ...more
The Richardson family lives a perfect life, planned to a T and that's what Elena Richardson, her husband and four children seem to have, at least to fifteen year old Pearl Warren. Pearl moves with her itinerant artist mother, Mia, into a rental house owned by the Richardsons in Shaker Heights and becomes infatuated with this family, their house, their life style so different from her own and is mostly infatuated with three of the teenage siblings. The reader though knows from the get go that the ...more
Shaker Heights, Cleveland is an idyllic place to live, everything has been planned to create the perfect community, but it's residents are expected to live by its many rules and regulations.
The Richardson's are quintessentially the kind of family who the community of Shaker Heights was built for. Elena Richardso ...more
I didn't hate this book at first; rather, the dislike gradually seeped up on me, like Little Gripes Everywhere! My admire ...more
Would recommend if you're looking for a slow character driven book full of emotions!
Ng does a good job of bringing each character to life. Izzy is the most unique of the characters. And the relationship between Izzy and Mrs. Richardson is spot on perfect. “When it came to Izzy, Mrs. Richardson was seldom calm, and for that matter, Izzy herself never was.” ...more
When unconventional artist Mia and her fifteen year old daughter, Pearl, move to Shaker Heights, Ohio their lives dramatically change. Of even great significance is their impact on the seemingly perfect Richardson family. On the surface, the Richardson’s seem to have it all--perfect house, perfect jobs, perfect child ...more
It's a story of relationships - Mother daughter ones. It starts off with Mia and daughter, Pearl, who move to shaker heights which is an upscale suburban neighbourhood where life is both homogenous and idyllic. Until the adoption of a Chinese ...more
Celeste Ng’s writing style wasn’t super easy to read. I feel the need to stress that Little Fires Everywhere is not a fast-paced, easy to read suburban thriller. It’s a slow-paced novel of fiction that focuses on American suburbia and middle class ethics that often requires more attention when reading to make sure you pick up on every subtle detail. All the time I read this book, I have the sensation that it was a script of an Desperate Housewives. There are not housewife in the book, b ...more
A smart, but often scathing look at entitlement coupled with the endless dynamic layers between mother and child.
The Clinton era gets a sharp examination as we drop in on Shaker Heights, an ideal suburban community with plenty of unspoken rules for its financially comfortable residents. The Richardson family is the prototype of the community, with Elena Richardson embracing the lifestyle with unparalleled enthusiasm.
The story for me was about more than the storyline though that was certainly interesting. What resonated with me was Ng's depiction of relationships. The relationships between mothers and their children, the relationship ...more
I have read SO many wonderful books lately, I keep thinking I can’t rate all these books 5 stars... but then I think how can I not? They all definitely deserve it! SO here I go again with another gushing review!(Currently I’m reading a book I’m not all that crazy about, so I promise a slightly negative review to come😉)
What makes you a mother biology or love?
This book was about the bonds between mothers and their children; The relationship between mothers and daughters in ...more
Don’t worry, I kicked myself already!
Celeste Ng’s words are beyond captivating. She has, for me, created one of the best character driven stories ever. I’m not going to bother telling you what the plot is about. Go find out for yourself! You’re welcome! I’m serious, you are welcome!
As s ...more
Not at first. That’s what’s interesting. In the beginning, everyone looked the same to me. Everyone *felt* the same. I had trouble distinguishing characters from one another.
But then I started learning about their pasts and began to see people in a different light. Mia Warren, for instance, is extremely secretive. She isolates herself on purpose and moves from place to place on a regular basis. She doesn’t need much. All she really needs is Pearl and her art. ...more
i honestly wasnt expecting to enjoy this book. i didnt really like celeste ngs debut and i thought this was probably overhyped. but this is one of the few occasions where i am actually happy to admit i was wrong.
i knew from the first chapter, where the title comes into play, that i was in for a real treat. if you dont know by now, i love when a book is so aptly named. sometimes tit ...more
What happens when two characters with very different personalities converge? A captivating story.
On one corner we have Elena Richardson, a successful, married reporter with four children who live in a well-to-do neighborhood, she has planned out carefully her life and executed it meticulously.
On the other corner we have Mia Warren, an enigmatic, creative, single artist and her daughter Pearl who at the beginning of the story rented an apart ...more
There was a clear theme of ignorance in the "progressive" town of Shaker Heights that only outsiders and Izzy could see. The reason I couldn't get into this book was that all the supporting characters felt a little thin. Like they weren't actually people, t ...more