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Little Fires Everywhere
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Monthly Bonus Reads > Little Fires Everywhere (May 2018)

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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1430 comments Mod
May Bonus Read- Mother's Day

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) I LOVED this novel. Terrific read!


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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1430 comments Mod
aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "I LOVED this novel. Terrific read!"

I can't wait to read it! However, there are a TON of holds on it...


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) My local library had more than thirty holds at one point, and that was the hardcover! The eBook had even more holds. It is worth the wait, but annoying to wait. >: |


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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1430 comments Mod
aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "My local library had more than thirty holds at one point, and that was the hardcover! The eBook had even more holds. It is worth the wait, but annoying to wait. >: |"

Yeah, I agree! When it gets close to the end of the month and I haven't received it yet. I might just buy it and support the author :)


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) I ended up buying it...


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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1430 comments Mod
aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "I ended up buying it..."

That makes sense!


Tippy | 11 comments LOL- I just looked I'm 607 in the queue at my library. At least they have 137 copies.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) Tippy wrote: "LOL- I just looked I'm 607 in the queue at my library. At least they have 137 copies."

: D


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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1430 comments Mod
Tippy wrote: "LOL- I just looked I'm 607 in the queue at my library. At least they have 137 copies."

Holy cow! I am 253... I'm not sure how many copies they have haha :p


Stephanie  | 1 comments So worth reading! This was my favorite book of 2017; I hope you don't have to wait forever for it at the library!


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Megan | 119 comments I was lucky, my copy just came in, the hold line wasn't too long


Brittany McCann (brittanylmccann) Excellent novel!


Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments I enjoyed this character-driven novel. I'll wait until more people have read it and the discussion gets started to make more comments. 🙂


message 15: by Maya (new) - rated it 3 stars

Maya B | 42 comments This was one of those hyped up books that I put off reading. Since there is a discussion, I will give it a try. Excited for the group read. I hope my copy will be in soon


message 16: by NancyJ (last edited May 04, 2018 11:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Maya, I also put off getting the book due to the hype. I hate when I expect too much and get disappointed. I don't pay attention to best seller lists anymore, but when goodreads members rave about a book, I pay more attention. I was resistant to buying it because I wasn't that crazy about the author's previous book, and I made a "library card not credit card" resolution.

After waiting 2 months on library waitlists, the kindle finally became available from my library. I was going to read this with another gr group, but it came too late. Then, I was busy when it first came , so I have only 2-3 days to read it. If it wasn't for this group read I might have just let it to go to the next person, and waited for the large print book. But here we go!

I started it last night and so far so good.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Like her previous book, Ng starts with the ending. This helps hook us by giving us a mystery to solve right off the bat. We want to know why Izzy set the fires, or IF Izzy set all the little fires that burned down her house.

This author tends to write about emotional events, but the emotions are tamped down quite a bit. (One books starts with the funeral of a teenager, and this one starts with a family's house being destroyed by a fire.) I suppose this is important at the beginning of the book to keep readers from rejecting a book for being too depressing. It seemed a little unrealistic to me, but she quickly switches to the beginning of the story to keep us moving forward.


daemyra, the realm's delight (irene_romance) | 7 comments I'm #64 on 62 copies ... may end up purchasing it! May is also Asian Heritage Month in Canada - good fit for bonus read :)


message 19: by Maya (new) - rated it 3 stars

Maya B | 42 comments NancyJ wrote: "Like her previous book, Ng starts with the ending. This helps hook us by giving us a mystery to solve right off the bat. We want to know why Izzy set the fires, or IF Izzy set all the little fires ..."
Thank you for the update NancyJ. My copy should be in next week


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Since we're reading this for Mother's day, what do you think of the mothers in the book so far?

I'm not quite finished with the book, but I noticed something unusual. At least, I think it's unusual in modern day books.

The first main character presented in the book is Mrs Richardson. Her name is Elena, but the author almost always calls her Mrs Richardson. Another main character is Mia. She is about the same age as Elena. She has a last name, but I don't think she is ever referred to as Mrs. Warren or Ms Warren.

Does it matter what the author calls the characters? Does it affect how you perceive them? If so, how?


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) I was aware of the implicit class meanings behind the author's sly title-assigning of the assumed social place of the characters in this fictional world. The way she had each of her characters talk and behave was consistent with their social beliefs in the drama. My being aware of the character title manipulation maybe reduced the subconscious impact on me, but it increased my respect for the author! She knew the power of titles influencing the participants in reading the book as well as in real life (as an older person, I remember the era of calling your teacher Mrs. Jones while she always referred to you as aPriL, but heaven help you if you made the mistake of calling her Sally instead of Mrs. Jones). Of course, I am assuming the author intentionally wrote "Mrs. Richardson" instead of Elena while everyone else in the book goes by their first names, except Mrs. McCullough, another rich woman. : )

All of the mothers in the book love their kids. Does that alone make them good mothers, in my opinion? No. So Love is not enough. After that, it gets kind of murky and fuzzy. Does money matter - yes. Does mental balance matter - yes. Does providing a stable home matter or a conventional upbringing matter? Does it matter the amount of money or what the mother's mental stability? The Red Line defining enough money, enough mental stability, enough moral sensibility is clear to 99% of us, but there is a fuzzy grey area before that Red Line. If we see a woman blind to her prejudices and class assumptions raising her own children and blithely passing on her prejudices to them, do we call her a bad mother even if she loves, and physically, financially and emotionally supports her children in every way?

The book shows us readers almost every kind of mother there is, which is quite a feat.


Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments Consistently using "Mrs. Richardson" vs "Mia" also emphasized the fact that Mrs. Richardson was very rigid in her views about society/people while Mia was a free spirit and much less judgmental.

I didn't like Mrs. Richardson at all. I thought she was WAY to intrusive; prying into Mia's life like an FBI operative. And she was very obtuse about things going on with her own family.


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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1430 comments Mod
Just started this :)


Brittany McCann (brittanylmccann) Barbara wrote: "Consistently using "Mrs. Richardson" vs "Mia" also emphasized the fact that Mrs. Richardson was very rigid in her views about society/people while Mia was a free spirit and much less judgmental.

..."


I though that if she was as invovled in her children's lives as much as she was in Mia's than a lot of the events could have been avoided


message 25: by NancyJ (last edited May 14, 2018 11:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "I was aware of the implicit class meanings behind the author's sly title-assigning of the assumed social place of the characters in this fictional world. The way she had each of her characters talk..."

None of the mothers in this book were truly abusive to their kids, unlike the last two books I read (Hillbilly Elegy and The Life we bury). We could argue that Izzy was verbally abused, and Pearl was abused by having to move so often (23 times?) in her young life. I would expect that many of those moves were triggered by Mia's fear of getting caught, and i think a child would pick up on that fear sooner or later.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Brittany wrote: I thought that if she was as involved in her children's lives as much as she was in Mia's than a lot of the events could have been avoided . "

Do you mean the teens having sex? Or whatever was going on with Izzy? If we blamed Mrs Richardson for either of those things, couldn't we blame Mia too? Her child was having sex too.

Mia paid a lot of attention to Izzy, but she was also the one who inspired Izzy's epic prank at school. She also inspired Izzy to set the fires - unintentionally I hope. I couldn't quite figure out what Mia was trying to say in her last conversation with Izzy, but I don't think Izzy would have set the fires otherwise.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "I was aware of the implicit class meanings behind the author's sly title-assigning of the assumed social place of the characters in this fictional world. The way she had each of her characters talk..."

Oh, there was also Mr RIchardson. I don't know why it's so easy to forget about him.


Brittany McCann (brittanylmccann) NancyJ, what I mean is that she definitiely turned an eye on a lot of behavior saying that they were teens, and although she was a present mother, she was uncomfortable with speaking to them about anything that she considered to be a "sensitive" topic, which closed many avenues of communication. With Izzie she had a complete block up, and it was hard to see her be so hard on her, and for her to pull away so much


Brittany McCann (brittanylmccann) Also yes with Mia, I think that Mia did what a lot of people do. She had a feeling that there was something up but she avoided the topic instead of dealing with it. When we get the mom intuition we need to go with it and listen to it, but the biggest lesson I saw for parents was that sometimes we need to stop being afraid of whether or not our children will still like us on a friend level then to have the hard talks with them.


message 30: by NancyJ (last edited May 16, 2018 01:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Brittany wrote: "NancyJ, what I mean is that she definitiely turned an eye on a lot of behavior saying that they were teens, and although she was a present mother, she was uncomfortable with speaking to them about ..."

It sounds like the parents were relying on the school to do all the sex education. But sex ed is more about science than values, and it doesn't usually cover the baby lust (not my term) that Lexie got after seeing and playing with a cute baby. I think she was in that fairy tale state of mind ("wouldn't it be perfect") that lets girls get a little lax about birth control. It was pretty easy to snap her back into reality, but by then it was too late, she was already pregnant.


Brandice (brandicej) I really enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere - It was one of my favorite books I read last year. I liked Everything I Never Told You, Ng’s first novel, but liked this one even more. One of my book clubs recently chose this and it was interesting to hear the various perspectives of everyone - it seemed like everyone either loved it, or found it utterly boring. Fortunately, I am in the former category.

I thought the story was well-written and all of the characters well-developed. Sometimes I think it can be easy to find a character to really dislike, especially when there are many to choose from, but I didn’t have that issue with this story. I wasn’t a huge fan of Mrs. Richardson but I didn’t outright dislike her either. I’ve read about many far more dislikable moms in other books.

Nancy, you make an interesting point about Ng addressing Elena as Mrs. Richardson in the story vs. addressing Mia as Mia. This is something I don’t recall noticing while I was reading the book, but is quite obvious now.

I also enjoyed the numerous 90s references throughout the book!

I look forward to seeing what else Ng writes in the future.


Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments I thought the McColloughs were wrong when they fought so hard to keep little May Ling/Mirabelle.

Knowing that the baby's mother, Bebe, had her life on track, and wanted the child, they should have given her up rather than go to court. Especially since - when the baby grew up - she'd probably resent what they did.


Brittany McCann (brittanylmccann) NancyJ I wondered if the baby lust came on becuase she was already pregnant at the time


Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments Brittany wrote: "NancyJ I wondered if the baby lust came on becuase she was already pregnant at the time"

The baby love struck me as very un-typical for a high school senior planning for college. And thinking her boyfriend might be happy to be a father now.....no no no, not gonna happen.


message 35: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited May 15, 2018 11:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) I thought Lexie was being a fool because her head was full of Romance-Lit idiocy. She was completely unaware of the real life of marriage, raising a baby, Lust and Love fading away under the pressures of his-and-her family life, college, jobs, money restraints, etc. She built up a fairy tale in her head instead DESPITE the sex-ed, which I believe is common and also was the author’s point. She was correct to have the abortion, a choice I would have made right away, though.

The McCulloughs could have shared custody with Bebe. I think their need to be May’s sole target of affection and love, to reduce the competition for May’s love, overwhelmed their common sense. After all, love expands outward for most of us. Love isn’t a limited quantity. May could have been raised to love both the McCulloughs and Bebe. Bebe starved her baby for days when the baby was a few days old. I am not as certain as some of you Bebe was the better mother. I do not think a mother giving birth endows her with a magic wisdom, even if she has ownership. Love obviously isn’t enough.

Idk, though. Being a parent looks like it is a fierce selfish emotion for many people (I never had a baby). Those two moms in the Bible arguing over a baby which Solomon decided to cut in half....

Lexie WAS pregnant and afterwords she decided that if she had it, she would get married and live happily ever after.

I keep changing my mind, actually.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) Mia and Pearl - Pearl seemed unharmed by Mia’s lifestyle. I had no problem with this mother generally because the dangers to Pearl had gone past the expired date, so to speak. Elena gave up her career as a Big City journalist to be a soccer mom, Mia gave up her life, too, and also had to settle for a much abbreviated career. The similarities of choices these two antagonists made was striking, despite that Elena grew roots and Mia had to be rootless.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments I keep changing my mind too. I think the author worked really hard to make it hard for us to decide who should get the baby (and who was better - Mrs Richardson vs Mia). And to create more discussion about what makes a family.

When you contrast the level of care the baby received from each mother, it's easy to say the baby is better off with Mr and Mrs McCullogh. But it's hard for anyone to say a mother shouldn't be able to keep her baby. The author gave us reasons to sympathize with Bebe too, and help explain why a mother might abandon her daughter. I can't even imagine how painful this situation would be for both Bebe and the McCulloghs.

I think the author set up parallels between all the mothers and daughters to try to balance the "couple with money" vs "single mother" equation. By calling Elena "Mrs" Richardson, she was highlighting the fact that she was married, while Mia was not. (As well as making her seem more stiff and distant.)

When she showed us how well Pearl turned out with Mia, it gave us more hope that May would turn out OK with Bebe. She also made Mrs Richardson unsympathetic, which might have made us less sympathetic toward her friend Mrs McCullogh.

She placed the story in the past, when there was more of a controversy about raising the child as a single mother versus a couple. Now, it is much more commonplace for women to opt to raise a child alone rather than marry just for the baby's sake.

The one thing the author left out of the equation is extended families. It's a lot easier to be a single mother if you have family and friends to help share the burdens and joy.

Bebe really needed help when May was a baby, but she had no one. She also did not have the ability to find help given her own health problems and perhaps language/culture barriers. Post Partem Depression can be very debilitating - making it hard to think straight. It also sometimes leads to psychosis, so giving the baby up was the best thing she could have done for the baby at that moment. It also enabled adoption,which was much better for the baby than foster care.

A few people have mentioned open adoptions and shared custody. I think the trend toward open adoptions is a very nice thing in theory. Though I'm sure it creates a lot of anxiety (even terror) for the adoptive parents. I don't think shared custody is an option here.

When Ng started writing this book, I wonder if she came up with the Richardson family and Mia/Pearl characters first, or the adoption decision. It makes me wonder about her own upbringing and parenting experiences.

Overall I enjoyed this book, but I was never able to fully emerge myself emotionally into the book. The only character I really felt connected to was Pearl. I don't know if it was the author's writing style that kept me at a distance overall, or just the way she wrote the mother characters. I felt somewhat disconnected from her previous book too.

This book was discussed in another group, and many people expressed a serious dislike of Mrs Richardson and a few also disliked Mia. I didn't really dislike either one, but I felt more judgmental about the way Mia kept moving Pearl around. She deprived her of the opportunity to make real friends, and it kept her from building relationships and gaining support from other adults. Mia lived in fear of getting caught, so she couldn't trust other people enough to get close to them. I think this fear and distrust would have a negative effect on her daughter.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Mia and Pearl - Pearl seemed unharmed by Mia’s lifestyle. I had no problem with this mother generally because the dangers Pearl had gone past the expired date, so to speak. Elena gave up her car..."

Yes, that's interesting - there are more similarities between them. I couldn't understand why Mia didn't take advantage of more opportunities to make money. All she had to do was sell more prints. But then we learned why she didn't want more attention given to her work. She might have been discovered by Pearl's father.


message 39: by Maya (new) - rated it 3 stars

Maya B | 42 comments NancyJ wrote: "I keep changing my mind too. I think the author worked really hard to make it hard for us to decide who should get the baby (and who was better - Mrs Richardson vs Mia). And to create more discussi..."

Excellent summary NancyJ. A lot of what you said, I was thinking the same thing. I just finished reading it and I thought is was ok. I thought the author's writing style was a little bland which kept me from fully liking any of the characters


message 40: by Barbara (last edited May 17, 2018 11:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments SPOILER ALERT (IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE BOOK)

I didn't feel any ambivalence about May Ling. Bebe should get the baby. DNA supercedes the McCulloughs hurt feelings....and they can adopt another baby.

I thought the author tipped her hand when - in the court proceeding - Mrs. McCullough said she'd take the child to Chinese restaurants to keep her in touch with her culture. 🙂

In any case I was happy when Bebe grabbed the baby and left for China.


message 41: by Maya (new) - rated it 3 stars

Maya B | 42 comments How did you all feel about the ending? I feel like I needed more closure with Mia, pearl and Izzy.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Maya wrote: "NancyJ ."

Thanks Maya. Yes, I agree. It was missing something - like compassion, beauty, emotion.

It just occurred to me why so many people (on another board) had negative things to say about the characters, even when they liked the book. The author seemed to lack compassion for some of her characters. She set them up to be judged by us.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Barbara wrote: " SPOILER ALERT (IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE BOOK)

I didn't feel any ambivalence about May Ling. Bebe should get the baby. DNA supercedes the McCulloughs hurt feelings....and they can adopt a..."


OMG the Chinese restaurant thing was funny and sort of pathetic. The Chinese Lawyer really did a number on her. He was faulting her for not buying Chinese dolls for the baby, even though he knew just how hard they were to find.

I have no idea what their life would be like in China, but I hoped she'd have a better chance there than in Ohio.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Maya wrote: "How did you all feel about the ending? I feel like I needed more closure with Mia, pearl and Izzy."

Definitely, especially with Izzy and her family. I felt that Mia and Pearl would be OK. If this were a movie, it would nice to see a little bit of info at the end about some of the characters. Maybe something funny, like May growing up to be in a dance group.


Candace | 41 comments I have finished reading of my first Celeste Ng novel. I found myself torn between the characters. Their practice of raising and treating their children, the issue of abortion and the custody battle for Mirabelle/May Ling. I liked Mia Warren and her view of life. She was compassionate compared to the self-centered Mrs. Richardson and her rigid rules. I could understand Mrs. Richardson's loyalty to Mrs. McCullough. I didn't like how Mrs. Richardson kept track of all the good she did for others. I feel Mia's spider woman picture was important, but I can't figure out why. My review can be found at
Candace's Review: Little Fires Everywhere


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) Spiders weave webs, with interconnecting threads, which will eventually ensnare those who dare or inadvertently try to walk the interconnecting and supporting strands, because the fact the threads are sticky is hidden? We become a community and involved stuck in each other’s lives because of the threads connecting us to each other?

Bebe to McCulloughs to Elena to Mia to Pearl to Lexie to Izzy to...


Candace | 41 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Spiders weave webs, with interconnecting threads, which will eventually ensnare those who dare or inadvertently try to walk the interconnecting and supporting strands, because the fact the threads ..."

Thanks, April. It makes sense when we notice how the characters are connected together. Could Mia be the spider and the other characters are caught in her web? It seems one question only leads to another. :-)


message 48: by Barbara (last edited May 18, 2018 04:51AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments A lot of readers are critical of Mia for moving from place to place with her daughter, so Pearl doesn't get a chance to settle down and make friends, etc. I think this is valid. However, I do admire the very close, loving relationship between Mia and Pearl. The absence of this kind of bond between Mrs. Richardson and Izzy is at the base of some of the 'big trouble' in the book.

My review of the book is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 49: by Maya (last edited May 18, 2018 06:09AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Maya B | 42 comments Per Deadline hollywood "Following the success of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman’s Big Little Lies, Witherspoon has teamed with another top actress, Scandal star Kerry Washington, to topline and executive produce a limited series based on a bestselling book, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere."

Maybe the series will fill in some of the gaps


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 143 comments Maya wrote: "Per Deadline hollywood "Following the success of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman’s Big Little Lies, Witherspoon has teamed with another top actress, Scandal star Kerry Washington, to topline an..."

Interesting. I can see them both playing the rich rigid Mrs Richardson, but with more depth than she has on paper. I don't see either one as Mia really.


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