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Little Fires Everywhere
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May 2018: Family Drama > Little Fires Everywhere/LISTOPIA - by Celeste Ng. 4 stars

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message 1: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 9337 comments Its possible there are spoilers contained within, although not specific ones, even though I try so so hard to make sure not to ruin a book experience for anyone. I suppose the spoiler piece is the mood at the book's end. If you haven't read the book, you may not want to hear my review.

I couldn't sleep, and so I finished the book.

Taking me a few minutes to get my thoughts together. The ending, the seemingly abrupt ending, is still with me. I am now left with all these characters, and their situations and circumstances, and they are each somewhat like a leaf in the wind. You don't know where they are, what is going to happen. One might guess, but is guessing enough? I am feeling loss - and the loss of the unknown. You can scorch something to the ground, but then what of what is left behind? I feel like Ms. Richardson outside her home. Lost, bereft, confused, and sad. Actually, that feeling epitomizes all of the characters, from the major to minor. Each ends up like one of Mia's photographs. Essentially themselves, and a composition of the grey and the complexities. One thing is clear in life. There isn't always a right answer or a clear path, and the actions we take, mistakes or not have consequences. Good choices aren't always right choices, but they aren't always wrong either. And even throughout all of these various playouts in the book, there is love. In every single one of the broken relationships there is love. That's what I am left with now. Countless broken relationships, more than I can stand, but always, always love. That's what I am left with. All the broken relationships and all of the love. Half hidden information, possible later connections, a chance at understanding more deeply, maybe not. But love.

I have made much of how across the map the reviews have been. Some have loved it, some have hated it. Some have been meh, some a little more or less than meh. This book won the 2017 prize for Amazon/Goodreads due to its popularity and that fact made many quite baffled. This book went on and off my TBR so many times, I considered it the most Yo Yo'ed book I had ever seen. Finally I couldn't take it anymore, it went off my TBR for good. But then the tag of family drama emerged, plus it matches my second Listopia list of Top 100 Amazon favorites of 2017. I could see now was the time to read it. So what's my opinion. 4 stars and I enjoyed reading it, even with all the emotions I went through during and are left with afterward.

Now those that know me, know that I usually end up on the underside of a rave. With a book of vastly mixed and ranging reviews, I did not expect myself to end up on the positive. But I will go there. Consider myself a surprised lover of this book. I did love it I think. I just don't love the crushing feelings I am left with. But that is the author's lens and privilege. To move us, make us feel. The choices in the book, every single one of them was impossible. I counted 20 broken relationships that moved me, and each one of them was impossible. High level conflict, with love as the only glue. There are no good choices or clear path. Just love.

Susie | 4488 comments Thanks for your comprehensive review Amy. As you know, I was one of the people who felt underwhelmed by this book and was ultimately disappointed as I had really enjoyed Everything I Never Told You. I felt it lacked a level of sophistication in both plot and prose. I am glad that you really enjoyed your reading experience.

Michael (mike999) | 569 comments Your review helps me decide to go past my own reservations about reading this one. The draw it had on you when you couldn't sleep. That despite your deep knowledge of the tragedies of love from your clinical practice you still found wisdom. That all the emotional wrenching was somehow worth it and not gratuitous melodrama. "A Little Life" and "Fall on Your Knees" seem likely to be too much in that latter realm for me at the moment.

message 4: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 9337 comments Susie and Michael, both of you were so well spoken. I actually didn’t love her first book. That was a 3, meh, just alright, like pretty good, but why the rave? Michael, I think you’ll find this book not like the tragedy of a little life, or other things where the darkness is just absolutely everywhere. I think that the tag family drama is more apt. It’s not like you’re not left with any hope it’s just that the circumstances at the moment or so wrapping around the moment. I have perhaps painted it just because of the intensity of my feeling in the moment as harder to manage then I think you would actually find it. As we have seen plenty, plenty of people have been underwhelmed. I wouldn’t let my sadness be the thing to stop you. After all, we know I am a hopeless romantic and I love things to end up either well Or with fantastic transformative inside towards growth for the journey, And or deep spiritual healing and awakening. With family drama you’re going to end up with something underneath that and lasting repercussions, so I may never should have expected anything different. Again, I worry about spoilers, but family drama more likely mirrors regular life. And as a clinician, I did find it interesting to look at the different characters and their relationships and the way they were thinking about the quandaries in front of them, and their actions or decisions they made and how they processed them later. I actually did find the relationships and the characters and their complexities interesting. Idly enough, it didn’t fall flat for me. I did think it was well done. It’s funny that Susie and I saw that differently, when we have deeply aligned on many books, and totally diverged on others. I wonder what the difference between those sets are? Forgive the dual response, best to you both and thanks for responding.

Michael (mike999) | 569 comments Nice connection you make, Amy, between your work and what you bring to reading about human struggles. I imagine that Romantic taste for people moving toward beauty and resolutions of conflicts takes you to a lot of inspiring books. Tales of people facing a holocaust find an upward path of survival and purpose in bearing witness. I can't account for the rewards I get from reading Cormac McCarthy, with their unremitting bleakness, but in the case of all the grim outcomes McMurtry serves up, the humor helps people carry on and readers to feel stronger.

I was meh on Everything I Never Told You, but I recognized her talent in capturing human lives. I studied development in my former science career, so character development and comimg of age themes are of special fascination for me. I hear you as saying you wish she had more on transformative experiences, but still made good attachments to the characters.

message 6: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 9337 comments Bearing witness towards transformation connected to the Holocaust - you nailed that one. One of the most profound and life changing books I ever read was Man’s Search for Meaning byVictor Frankel.

Kelly | 848 comments I am curious what happens after the end also. I liked your review.

message 8: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 9337 comments I just read yours and liked it too!

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