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Little Fires Everywhere
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ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
If anyone would like to lead the discussion for the July book of the month, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, please let me know. You can respond here or dm me. Thanks


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
Discussion schedule:

Epigraph thru Chap 5 - July 1 thru July 6
Chap 6 thru 10 - July 7 thru 14
Chap 11 thru 15 - July 15 thru 22

Entire book open July 23rd


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
The discussion for Celeste Ng’s über-popular Little Fire’s Everywhere begins today. So you can actually start the epigraph through chap 5 now.

I read this book at the time of its release and really enjoyed it. In fact, I liked it more than her debut which is surprising. I liked her debut. Was that a LFPC discussion book? Can’t recall.

Has anyone else read Ng? Currently reading? Any thoughts on her writing?


Lata | 293 comments This will be my first Ng, and I’m looking forward to it and the discussion.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
Lata wrote: "This will be my first Ng, and I’m looking forward to it and the discussion."

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, Lata.

The book moves really fast and I think it only took me two days to read each book. I wasn’t trying to sail through it just happened that way.


Lata | 293 comments It sounds like it must be gripping. Now I’m really looking forward to it. :)
Since I have some library books I have to finish first, I’ll have to wait till mid month or so to get to this book.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
This book takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a planned community. Anyone currently live in a planned community?

There’s one right next door to me, Peachtree City, and it’s considered a master planned community, whatever that means. You drive through and you see more people on golf carts grocery shopping, picking up laundry and going to the library than in cars. Rather idyllic community with an extremely low crime rate (lowest in GA for many years) but seemed rather strange in a way. Stepford wifeish.


message 9: by Beverly (new) - added it

Beverly | 2892 comments Mod
I read Ng's first book Everything I Never Told You - it was an ok read for me - I know I am in the minority as most people liked it.

I have become more interested in reading this book as I understand the community - Shaker Heights - is a "character" in the book and my cousin lived there for a couple of years in the early 60s when his family moved to the Cleveland area and a couple of months ago we were discussing growing up in the Cleveland area.

I have lived in a "planned" community for a couple of years in Rockville Md, before I moved out of state. It was not necessarily a planned decision but I liked living there.


message 10: by Ella (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments I lived in a planned community too, years ago, also in Maryland, though mine was Columbia, MD. These days, you'd never know it was a planned community b/c the outside world eventually overtook the planning. However, part of the planning was a very careful racial "breakdown" for lack of a better word. And I remember thinking it was sort of awesome that the first baby born in Columbia Maryland was a biracial baby. Being one of those myself, it felt sort of awesome that this was seen as progress - what would have been frowned upon for much of my life as "racial mixing" etc.


message 11: by William (last edited Jul 02, 2018 07:57AM) (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1326 comments Mod
I read "Everything..just a few weeks ago. I came away underwhelmed. But that may have been due to the fact that this tight family drama of disappointments and secrets seemed so small in comparison to the real life family dramas of children snatched from mothers and fathers at our nations borders. A mid-life crisis by an upper middle class woman unable to attend the graduate school of her choice due to family responsibilities seemed to me that she should just suck it up. Maybe during a more peaceful era I would have liked it more.


message 12: by William (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1326 comments Mod
I live next door to the original American planned community, Greenbelt, Md. Although FDR's depression busting WPA workforce was integrated in building the town the housing policy was one of segregation. Government sponsored socialism couldn't penetrate the racism of the time.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
The authors website:
https://www.celesteng.com

Review of the book in The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

Here’s the author in conversation with Nicole Chung at Politics and Prose:
https://youtu.be/1qgsXs7CTx0


message 14: by Ella (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments I had a similar reaction to this book that the Guardian reviewer had. I didn't dislike it. I just didn't quite understand why it got so very much hype. (And to be fair, the hype could have been part of the problem by the time I got around to reading it.)


Joelle.P.S | 65 comments Columbus wrote: "I read this book at the time of its release and really enjoyed it. In fact, I liked it more than her debut which is surprising. I liked her debut..."

I also liked this book better than her earlier one, which I read a few years ago for another bookclub.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
Now discussing thru chapter 10 til July 14


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
Discussing thru chapter 15 til the 23rd


message 18: by Beverly (new) - added it

Beverly | 2892 comments Mod
Ella wrote: "I had a similar reaction to this book that the Guardian reviewer had. I didn't dislike it. I just didn't quite understand why it got so very much hype. (And to be fair, the hype could have been par..."

While I know everyone is entitled to their own opinions and every book is not for everybody & that it is the job of marketing depts to ensure a book gets all the buzz that it can, but often the buzz raises my expectations of a book and then while it may be a good read I often feel a sense of disappointment.

Did you read the author’s first book?


message 19: by Beverly (new) - added it

Beverly | 2892 comments Mod
What did you like about the book?

What are your thoughts about the characters?


message 20: by S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

S. Fambul (soek_reads) | 9 comments I am sort of in the minority here. Ng is one of my favorite authors. I adored Everything I Never Told You and eventually got into Little Fires Everywhere. I enjoy these novels because she gets into the messiness of family dynamics and in the first book I got to see what it looks like for a family to be isolated from each other and the community around them as a biracial family.

I think the characters that stook out to me most in LFE were definitely the matriarchs. After a few pages with Mrs. Richardson, I knew exactly what kind of woman she was and I was intrigued by seeing how far she would go to believe she still has some control over her little so-called perfect life.

I found Mia to be a fascinating character. I was really intrigued by how she came into womanhood and her own particular brand of mothering as she grew with Pearl. I know it was not plainly stated, but I believed Mia to be an asexual character, which is a sexual identity that VERY rarely gets any visibility.


BernieMck | 95 comments I liked both books, although I liked LFE a lot more than ENTU. Family dramas big and small are everywhere we turn. These are not the 2 books to read if you are looking for a read to uplift you or give you insight into life. I found them to be quite entertaining.


Janet | 227 comments Read both some time ago and had a sense of having liked Everything more than Little Fires, although I agree that the rendering of family life and complications is strong. Something about the writing itself in Little Fires wasn't drawing me in, but surely both books give readers much to contemplate.


message 23: by S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

S. Fambul (soek_reads) | 9 comments Bernie! I know this may be kind of weird to say, but I thought the ending of ENTU was hopeful. If I remember correctly, the family got a renewed sense of focus about their purpose as a unit and individuals.

Now LFE is a whole notha beast entirely. lol.

And I agree with you Janet, it wasn't til I got about 50 pages into LFE that I began to felt compelled to keep on reading.

I am very excited to see what Celeste has up her sleeve in the future. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a sequel to LFE, but who knows!


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
How about we open the entire book for discussion instead of waiting til the 23rd. Anyone have a problem with that?


message 25: by Lata (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lata | 293 comments That's fine with me. (I won't be getting to this book till a few days from now.)


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
Ok, thanks Lata. The entire book open for discussion.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
What does the title mean. Or what does it mean to you?

I thought the author handled all the multitude of issues and storylines very well in this book. Very poignant moments with the kids and the relationships with the adults. Particularly enjoyed the friendship between Mia, the artist, and the daughter Lexie Richardson. (Excuse me if I have the names wrong since I no longer have the book). Ng’s juggling of all these issues appeared seamless and so fluent quite unlike her first book which I also enjoyed.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
I like this statement from Ng in an earlier interview:

Little Fires Everywhere is less about arson than babies. Ng constructs a three-ring circus, each subplot posing a moral quandary regarding an infant. 1) Close friends of the Richardsons have taken in a baby abandoned at a fire station, whom they hope to adopt. But the little girl’s Chinese mother has got her act together, and wants her daughter back. 2) Years before, the Richardson’s tenant, Mia, carried a child for an affluent but infertile couple, after manually inseminating herself with the man’s sperm. Yet she began to form an attachment to the unborn child. 3) The older Richardson daughter gets pregnant by her unwitting boyfriend. Her family could afford to raise the baby, but a child would interfere with her forthcoming university education.


In each instance, whose rights and desires take precedence?

“It came, over and over, down to this,” Ng spells out, perhaps too explicitly. “What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love.


message 29: by ColumbusReads (last edited Jul 18, 2018 04:05PM) (new) - added it

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3895 comments Mod
I liked Ng’s response to this below:

Little Fires Everywhere is less about arson than babies. Ng constructs a three-ring circus, each subplot posing a moral quandary regarding an infant. 1) Close friends of the Richardsons have taken in a baby abandoned at a fire station, whom they hope to adopt. But the little girl’s Chinese mother has got her act together, and wants her daughter back. 2) Years before, the Richardson’s tenant, Mia, carried a child for an affluent but infertile couple, after manually inseminating herself with the man’s sperm. Yet she began to form an attachment to the unborn child. 3) The older Richardson daughter gets pregnant by her unwitting boyfriend. Her family could afford to raise the baby, but a child would interfere with her forthcoming university education. (Guardian)

In each instance, whose rights and desires take precedence?

“It came, over and over, down to this,” Ng spells out, perhaps too explicitly. “What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love.

I tried very hard in writing the book to show that this is a complicated situation. I think that right now our sort of natural sympathies are often with the biological mother. We tend to prioritize that — in not all cases, but in many cases.


message 30: by George (new)

George | 773 comments Finished this several days ago while on a trip. All in all, I quite liked it even if I don't buy in completely to all the hype. I try not to get too much into that as it affects my expectations and my experience of a book. Still, I also thought it was a clear step up from her first book. and I have some familiarity with Shaker Heights as my wife is from Cleveland and I've been there a number of times. Clearly for me as well. the book is much more about babies than arson and in a way that is rather personal to me as we have two adopted daughters, both adopted overseas and both adults now as we also have 3 grandchildren.

On top of that, I ran the immigrant visa section at our embassy in Seoul for 3 years, which at that time was processing large numbers of adoptions for the US, some 4-5 thousand while I was there. I was heavily engaged with US and Korean officials, plus the 4 Korean adoption agencies handling foreign adoptions plus US agencies etc, etc, etc. Most of these children were born out of wedlock as Korean single mothers were not treated well socially. Koreans were generally not very interested in adopting these kids and traditionally those who did usually hid that fact from the kids and everyone else, to the extent that they would normally only consider children of compatible blood types, as children were blood typed in elementary school, and it's hard to maintain the secret if the kid has a blood type that clearly did not come from the adopting parents. The Korean government was in the process of shrinking the program as its existence was considered a national embarrassment given South Korea's economic status and there were several groups of Korean adoptees that were overwhelmingly anti foreign adoptions. Many of these were children adopted in countries other than the US. The government tried very hard to encourage Korean citizens to adopt with a national adoption day celebration that was promoted and televised , but with limited success as there were always more available kids than prospective Korean families. so lots of these kids ended up remaining in orphanages, more or less permanently.

So, this is to say, I tend to look at the story line from a personal and professional perspective and I agree with Ng that it's rather complicated.


Janet | 227 comments related to all of this, Litany for the Long Moment, by Mary-Kim Arnold, is a brilliant (in my not unbiased opinion) memoir, written by an adoptee. (full disclosure, Mary-Kim is a friend, but the book speaks volumes, and beautifully for itself

http://www.essaypress.org/mary-kim-ar...


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 695 comments I had to read comments since I waited two months for book, and started but didn't like it after reading three chapters or up to fifty pages. Therefore, I read comments left here. Someone suggested to try audio book instead.


message 33: by Melanie (last edited May 26, 2020 05:01AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Melanie | 62 comments Adrienna wrote: "I had to read comments since I waited two months for book, and started but didn't like it after reading three chapters or up to fifty pages. Therefore, I read comments left here. Someone suggested ..."

Same here, Adrienna.

I hope it's okay if I bring that discussion up again. I read in another discussion that William wanted to start the book as well and he wrote that there is a series based on it. Lucky me, the series has now also been started in Germany and I finished the book shortly before.

Has anyone seen the series yet?

Since I don't want to spoil, just this much:
I liked the book by Celeste Ng, but was not as overwhelmed as I thought. The content, the construction of the novel and the narrative style appealed to me a lot, but for me the story built up too slowly and it was hard for me to continue. The series, on the other hand, has been a permanent aha-moment for me and has captivated me a lot.


message 34: by William (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1326 comments Mod
Melanie wrote: "Adrienna wrote: "I had to read comments since I waited two months for book, and started but didn't like it after reading three chapters or up to fifty pages. Therefore, I read comments left here. S..."

I didn't read the book first as I intended. Someone shared their streaming service password with me so I figured I better watch the series while I could. I thought it was pretty engaging. But I still have about half to go as other more pressing claims on my binge watching time have come up. I hope to finish soon though. Given your rather lukewarm endorsement of the book maybe I'll give it a pass.


Melanie | 62 comments William wrote: "I didn't read the book first as I intended. Someone shared their streaming service password with me so I figured I better watch the series while I could. I thought it was pretty engaging. But I still have about half to go as other more pressing claims on my binge watching time have come up. I hope to finish soon though. Given your rather lukewarm endorsement of the book maybe I'll give it a pass."

Enjoy your binge watching time!


Carmel Hanes | 52 comments Melanie wrote: "Adrienna wrote: "I had to read comments since I waited two months for book, and started but didn't like it after reading three chapters or up to fifty pages. Therefore, I read comments left here. S..."

I enjoyed both the book and the series..especially the series, because of the terrific acting.


Lakshmi | 33 comments George wrote: "Finished this several days ago while on a trip. All in all, I quite liked it even if I don't buy in completely to all the hype. I try not to get too much into that as it affects my expectations and..."

That's really interesting about the adoption process George.

I missed the discussion about this book, but I really loved it. I never bother much with hype and so I don't get underwhelmed when I finally read the book because of the marketing and publicity. I loved the slow thoughtful way Ng explored everything in Little Fires. Gonna start watching the series soon.


Sarah Rigg | 99 comments I really liked "Little Fires" and found it to be one of my top reads of 2019. My mom read it in a book club and was under-whelmed -- she didn't like the characters and thought the prose was so-so. So funny how individual everybody's taste is!

I also enjoyed "Everything I Never Told You" which I read after discovering "Fires".


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 695 comments Melanie wrote: "Adrienna wrote: "I had to read comments since I waited two months for book, and started but didn't like it after reading three chapters or up to fifty pages. Therefore, I read comments left here. S..."

Once again, I tried to watch the series on Hulu and barely finished the first episode, sadly, I didn't return back yet. I have another week off before returning to work and catching up on so many movies, series, and shows, also reading that I barely have time to do. I make time to read at work here and there, being a librarian, is a plus.


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 695 comments Carmel wrote: "Melanie wrote: "Adrienna wrote: "I had to read comments since I waited two months for book, and started but didn't like it after reading three chapters or up to fifty pages. Therefore, I read comme..."

good to know, unsure why I couldn't complete it. Try another season.


Adrienna (adriennaturner) | 695 comments William wrote: "Melanie wrote: "Adrienna wrote: "I had to read comments since I waited two months for book, and started but didn't like it after reading three chapters or up to fifty pages. Therefore, I read comme..."

Thanks, William. I will go with the series since so many give it rave ratings or comments about it. I read quite a bit, but no longer will force myself to read everything because others enjoyed it. I appreciate your comments.


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