Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

May 23, 2020 Book review 7 ★★★½

I flopped around like fish on whether I liked Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng or not. By the end though, I felt very emotional reading the last few chapters so it did reel me in. And left me gasping with feels.

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Published by Little, Brown and Company on September 12, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Family Life
Pages: 388
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

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 residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons.

Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town - and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost...

CREATIVE From the TBR pile Refreshing

First Line of Little Fires Everywhere

“Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it last summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.”

My thoughts on Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

At the start of this book, I felt smothered in detail. The descriptions flowed on page after page, and I felt it slowed the plot down. Too much banal information. But slowly, I got intrigued by the characters, and their chosen lifestyles.

Shaker Heights where the book is located dictates all kinds of rules for their residents including what colour to paint their house. Mrs Robinson is a rule keeper and is troubled to her core when free spirit Mia and her daughter rock into town, and become heavily entangled with her family. The characters are so individual, so subtlety drawn that I become engrossed in their individual and collective stories.

This book delves deep into so many topics – what it means to be a mother, race issues, what it means to belong in a community and in a family, and about not conforming with mainstream choices. It made me reflect long and hard about their moral dilemmas, and I find I’m still debating what I would have chosen in their shoes.

So my advise on this one is stay patient, give it a chance to lure you. I very nearly abandoned this book early on, but am glad I didn’t. Like a fire starting, it needed time to catch. And when it pulled me it, I couldn’t look away from the flames destroying everything in sight.

#LittleFiresEveryWhere by #CeleseNg was a slow burn book but when it pulled me in I was mesmerised by the flames. A brilliant book club book as there is SO much to discuss #bookreview Click To Tweet

Also if you are in a book club, this would be a great book to discuss as there are just so many questions begging to be teased out.

Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: three-half-stars

Who should read Little Fires Everywhere?

I’d recommend this to you if you like slow burn books, thought-provoking themes, and interesting characters. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Paula Daly should also enjoy.

About Celeste Ng

Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio. She graduated from Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan).  Her fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, and many other publications, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors.


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7 Responses to “Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng”

  1. RO

    I have to admit that sometimes my patience can get the best of me and a book will land up on the DNF pile if the details are too long. Thanks for letting me know to hang in there and things will get interesting and intriguing. Air Hugs, RO

  2. Mystica

    I’ve read about this book for a long time but never could find it here. Sounds very interesting, even though you took time to actually get into the read.

  3. Berls

    I didn’t realize this was a book, but I just finished watching season 1 of the TV show. Has my curious now… I often don’t enjoy books if I’ve seen an adaptation first because it’s spoiled for me. But I wonder if, in this case it would help me get through the initial bit (or slow it down even more?). I’m tempted because they’ve left us hanging on the TV show.

    Great review!
    Berls recently posted…Berls Reviews Suzy Spitfire and the Snake Eyes of Venus

  4. Jade @ Reading with Jade

    Some books definitely require more patience than others to truly get in to. It sounds like your overall reading experience of this title was good (I remember having a similar experience myself when reading this a year or so ago), and I loved reading your review.

    Celeste Ng is an author that gets you thinking, for sure.
    Jade @ Reading with Jade recently posted…Reading Wrap Up | May

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