Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Book Review)

Trigger/Content Warnings: TTC, pregnancy, adoption, abortion, babies.

“In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors 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 principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged 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. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons 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 unexpected and devastating costs.Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood–and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.” -Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

If you like class distinction and tension, a little bit of mystery, custody battles of adorable babies, and plain good writing, this is a perfect read for you! Ng shows us that everyone has a sympathetic side, even when we wish they didn’t. While reading Little Fires Everywhere I didn’t know who I wanted to side with over the custody battle of little May Ling/Mirabelle. (No spoilers though, I’ll let you read it and decide who should have won!).

While there won’t be “… and they lived happily ever after!” at the end of this book, we do get the opportunity to experience a realistic ending. Whether this is satisfying to the reader is for us to decide. Whether I like it or not, the ending is well executed and tied together. No loose strings here! If you’ve read Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, you’ll know that realistic endings (and in the case of EINTY, somewhat disappointing endings) are her thing.

Rating: 4 🔥 out of 5 🔥

Why: The characters are well written and all of them are complex, hiding feelings and worries from the world. The story has depth and a few twists that I didn’t see coming, and there’s a case of mistaken identity. Those always grip me and I just want to rush ahead to where the character finds out who really did it! I’m taking half a star/fire for the realistic ending. Personally, I like happy endings. I don’t read fiction to be told how the world is, that’s what social media, non-fiction, and the news are for. But that’s a personal preference and if you’re a cynic and love realistic endings, you’ll love Little Fires Everywhere. I take off another half star/fire for the aforementioned TW of abortion. It did lend itself to the story, but it never resolved into anything. The character in question who has the abortion doesn’t have very many emotions, positive or negative. It could have added more to the story for the abortion to have been more impactful.

Ending Thoughts: If you’re looking for a well-written book, please pick up a copy of Little Fires Everywhere! If you want to feel a little stressed by family and town drama, read this book! And, if you want to visualize Mia, Pearl, and all the rest AFTER you read, look up the TV show and compare them. Did the show do the book justice?

With love and wishing you a blessed day, Storm

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