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Little Fires Everywhere
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May 2018: Family Drama > Little Fires Everywhere / Celeste Ng - 4****

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6387 comments Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere – Christine Ng
Book on CD performed by Jennifer Lim

From the book jacket: In Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads 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 artist and single mother – who arrives with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. When a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town, Mia and Elena are on opposing sides.

My reactions
I cannot help but wonder what Ng has against determined mothers. In her debut work, the mother was single-minded in orchestrating a successful future for her daughter, and completely blind to the realities of her children’s actual hopes, dreams, and fears. Now, Ng gives us, in Elena Richardson, a woman virtually obsessed with getting her own way, and (again) blind to the realities of her own family members’ hopes, dreams, and fears. At least she contrasts this profile with Mia Warren – equally talented and devoted to her family, although frustratingly private, yet keenly observant and aware of what is happening and much more willing to listen.

I was struck by how the Richardson kids had a mother who believed she was giving her kids everything, but in fact they knew little about how to deal with life. While Mia, unable to give her child much in the way of material goods, had given her the tools for living – self-reliance, observation, determination. Pearl could put a bed together, Moody and his siblings couldn’t identify a Philips screwdriver from a wrench.

I also noticed how the class differences between these women was reinforced by the names Ng used for them. “Mrs Richardson” or “Mrs McCullough” as contrasted with Mia or Bebe.

Jennifer Lim does a fine job narrating the audiobook. She has good pacing and enough skill as a voice artist to give the many female characters sufficiently unique voices. The way she performed Mrs Richardson rationalizing her behavior, or Izzy’s confusion, frustration and anger really brought these characters to life for me.

LINK to my review

Ladyslott | 1880 comments I just finished this book and loved it.

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