Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood--and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

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Named a Best Book of the Year by: 
People, The Washington Post, Bustle, Esquire, Southern Living, The Daily Beast, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Audible, Goodreads, Library Reads, Book of the Month, PasteKirkus ReviewsSt. Louis Post-Dispatch, and many more!
"I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting." –Jodi Picoult

“To say I love this book is an understatement. It’s a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears.” - Reese Witherspoon

“Extraordinary...Books like Little Fires Everywhere don't come along often." —John Green

"Witty, wise, and tender. It's a marvel." – Paula Hawkins

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

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.

Perfect for book clubs! Visit for discussion guides and more.

Advance Galley Reviews

This is one of those books where I'm like, why all the hype? I didn't think it was a masterpiece as others have raved about. I felt it was dry and very slow moving. This was not the book I thought it would be. The first half of the book was so boring and slow. Eventually the story came together with some minor twists and turns. I get now the pun of the Title of the book. It was good not great.

Wonderful book! I loved every moment of this. Highly recommend!

A picture of a small town, full of rules and plans, and two intertwined families who choose to live there. After Everything I Never Told You turned out to be one of my two favorite reads of 2017, I knew I needed to get to this book as quickly as possible. While this was a 4 to 4.5 star/5, it didn't disappoint. I love Ng's style, the way she writes from multiple perspectives seamlessly and doesn't make us wait until a chapter transition to understand what a character was thinking in that precise moment. She develops characters well, offering portraits I have no trouble picturing. Somehow, the drama she opens with isn't even the largest piece of tension in the book, and it kept me reading late into the night. I hated as many characters as I loved; I took sides in the issues; I cared more than I usually do in a piece of fiction. Even those characters who were largely awful or did awful things were written well, with humanity. I did take issue with a few of the plot and character points this time - places where I couldn't suspend disbelief, where the characters went so far off the rails it seemed impossible. Even with that, it was a great read and deserving of the praise it has received so far.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a story of mothers and daughters and of a big philosophical question. What makes a woman a mother? The power of Celeste Ng's writing is the ability to elicit emotion and to pull the reader - at least this reader - into the hearts and minds of the characters. I walk away seeing all sides, feeling sympathy towards all sides and wanting to know what happens to these characters after the book ends. Read my complete review at Reviewed for Penguin First to Read.

I loved this work, not as much as Ms. Ng's first work, but I am still a huge fan. So many characters and maybe that is why it felt like it took me ages to read. We found out about each character's life and because of this I felt like the middle of the book dragged a bit. But, what an emotional rollercoaster! We read this book for my book club recently and it lent itself to a wonderful discussion. So many layers! Even as a Mother, my most important role, I could find myself understanding the emotions of both sides of the story. Give this one a read and discover a brilliant author for yourself!

Little Fires Everywhere was hard for me to get into because it was slow at the beginning. It took a while for people and storylines to start connecting and everything dragged out just a tad longer than necessary. It is a beautiful story that looks into people's relationships, but it's not for everyone. It reminded me of her other book - Everything I Never Told You. That book also felt slow to me, too. The thing I enjoyed the most about Little Fires Everywhere was seeing the divide in people's perspective regarding who should be allowed to raise May-Lin/Mirabelle- her birth mother who abandoned her in a moment of weakness or the rich, white family who couldn't have children. I love that this book brings up the issue that an adoption of a person of color can cause identity issues when the child grows up so disconnected from their culture. Everyone wants to give the child a great life and opportunities, but they will be missing a part of their heritage. While I'm sure this can also be true for most adopted children, it feels more pronounced with two different races involved in the adoption. Overall, I did enjoy this book but felt like some parts were dragging and unnecessary.

I enjoyed this book very much. It was quite entertaining but unfortunately it expired before I could finish the book. But what I did read I loved. I am definitely going to buy this and continue reading it. It is a must read.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a slow-burn of a novel that connects a single mother and daughter with the Richardsons, a well-of family in the town of Shaker Heights. Shaker Heights is the quintessential, progressive suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Elena Richardson's family has roots in the town, and after her college education, she knew she and her husband would settle back down in her hometown to raise their family. Her children, Trip, Lexie, Moody and Izzy are all very different, except Izzy is probably the most. Mia Warren is an artist and has been traveling around the country with her daughter, Pearl, never staying long after her latest project is completed. When she arrives in Shaker Heights, renting a property from the Richardson's, their families become intertwined more than they believed. On the side, a family friend of the Richardson's are pursuing an adoption of an abandoned baby. When the mother decides she wants her back, the Richardson's and Mia are on opposite sides and push the boundaries of their relationships. This story moves slowly but the relationships between all of the characters help move the story along and I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out the complexities of each one. I became deeply involved with each one and this story will stick with me for a long time.

I gave this a 3 but it was really a 2.5. I could not get into this book. It was pretty boring and by the time I did get into it, it ended with SO MANY QUESTIONS. Argh. I haven't read Everything I Never Told You and now it has moved farther down my list. It still sounds interesting, more interesting than Little Fires Everywhere. I liked very few of the characters. Mostly just Izzy because she was different and unique from the rest of the characters. But what drove me nuts were the endless questions I was left with after finishing! What happened to [insert character name here]?! Because you don't get to to know what happened to anybody. Ugh.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was a very enjoyable read for me. A story of mystery and family intrigue full of complicated characters and twists. At some point it registered with me that it was a little much to all be happening to this small group of people but that quickly faded. The story was too fun to read to let a little reality check get in the way. Ng is an amazing writer and on a technical level the writing is often beautiful and mesmerizing. I would highly recommend this book to all readers.

Nicely plotted mystery about two families with teenagers filled with 90's angst. Since I was also angst-filled as a teen in the 90's I enjoyed the trip down memory lane. Ng had a 5-star rating from me until the last 10 pages or so, when I thought she took the easy way out with the story. Still a worthwhile read.

Human relationships and mystery abound in this novel. I give this book 5 stars!! As a fan of Celeste Ng, I was really excited to read Little Fires Everywhere. This book didn't let me down. The poetic use of imagery pulled so many emotions out of my heart. Sadness for the contempt one can have for their own child, happiness for the freedom some of the Richardson children gained. Awe for the talent that Mia possessed, and despisement and frustration for the shallowness that people can have when dealing with others, not of their "station." Ms. Ng does a wonderful job of building her characters, helping you to really, truly care about what is going on in the story and moving the story along at a good pace. Only once did I feel a total hatred within the story, and that was when Mrs. Richardson uses her job to become mean spirited and dishonest. Man, she really annoyed me! This to me is a good sign of a great book = evoking so many emotions. The novel was entertaining at times, lesson teaching throughout and just a pure good read. I couldn't put it down. Thanks to Ms. Ng, i seriously stopped to think about life in my own little world and what needs to be fixed or what I could do better in my community to help others.

I enjoyed "Little Fires Everywhere" from start to finish. Celeste Ng weaves an intricate tale with realistic characters and near perfect pacing. The flashbacks serve the framing story well and come along at the right moments. This is my first Ng book, but it won't be my last. Her writing is poetic yet straight forward. A true joy to read.

My Ratings: 5 stars Wow, what a story! As I try to gather my thoughts to write this review, I am finding it difficult to do because there were too many things that made this book so wonderful! The premise sounded simple enough – a wealthy family living in a progressive suburb called Shaker Heights, where every aspect of the community is carefully planned out and everyone lives idyllic, picture-perfect lives shielded from the “unpleasantness” of the outside world. Guided by the philosophy that “as long as you follow the rules, everything will be fine,” Elena Richardson is the ultimate embodiment of the Shaker spirit – she leads a perfectly maintained privileged life, married to a successful attorney husband with 4 “perfect” kids (2 boys and 2 girls), living in a big, beautiful house, doing a job she loves and surrounded by close friends who all think and act like her. For Mrs. Richardson -- who was born and raised in Shaker Heights and whose ancestors had proudly upheld the planned community’s ideals for 3 generations – it is unfathomable that anyone would choose to live any other way than the way she and her family and her entire community does. Into this idyllic setting enters Mia Warren, an enigmatic and intriguing artist who brings with her a fatherless 15-year-old daughter named Pearl – hoping to settle down after years of living a nomadic life, Mia rents a small house from the Richardsons (an arrangement Mrs. Richardson wholeheartedly agrees to because, after all, how can someone who leads such a “perfect” life as hers not have a “compassionate” and “charitable” heart?). As the lives of the 2 families become more and more entangled, things happen that reveal the deep dysfunction that actually lies just beneath the surface of this community, the Richardson family in particular. As “reality” sets in and things fall apart around her, Mrs. Richardson sees her carefully curated bubble start to burst, which eventually triggers in her the obsessive need to dig up Mia’s past and expose her in a desperate attempt to get her “perfect” life back. The results of this obsession proves to be unexpected as well as devastating. Author Celeste Ng writes beautifully – she has a skillful way with words and her storytelling draws you in completely. From the first sentence all the way to the very last word, I was captivated by this well-crafted story with its well-developed, complicated, yet extremely realistic characters – to be honest, I didn’t want this story to end. It’s not often that a book comes along where the characters are explored so deeply and flushed out so completely without sacrificing the story or the writing in any way. While there were some characters that I didn’t like at all and others who were unequivocally endearing, all of them I felt like I understood and could empathize with. I loved how the characters were drawn so realistically – the portrayal of Mrs. Richardson, for example, with her “holier than thou” attitude and “sweet as pie” platitudes trying to mask the hypocrisy and unethical nature of her actions was truly spot-on! The story itself explored so many different issues, complicated societal issues such as family, mother/daughter relationships, teenage angst and rebellion, racism, etc. yet this was done in a way that presented both sides while still remaining neutral from a narrative standpoint – something that is extremely difficult to do! As a reader, I appreciated being presented with both sides and letting me decide for myself what side I wanted to be on. One of the things I saw in this book that I rarely see nowadays with contemporary authors was the use of allusions and foreshadowing woven so seamlessly throughout the entire story. The number of direct and indirect references to “fire” and all its different iterations (blaze, sparks, flames, flare, smoke, torch, ember, etc.) from the book’s awesome title was astounding, but what I loved most was how these references were so thoughtfully relayed through such beautiful writing! I would quote passages if I could but seeing that I read an ARC version of the book, probably best not to – besides, there were so many great “fire” related passages that deciding which ones to include and which ones not to would be a nightmare for me, lol. You will just have to read the book and discover them for yourself! ;-) My only complaint is a little bit of dissatisfaction with the ending – not because the loose ends weren’t tied up (I actually like the fact that Ng went with a non-traditional ending), but because I was so invested in the characters already that I wanted to know what ultimately happens to them, wanted the story to continue on so I could keep spending time with them (part of me also wanted to see some type of comeuppance for the deplorable Mrs. Richardson, whom I detested from the beginning of the story to the very end, lol). But of course, the ending reflects how real life works and I am perfectly fine with that! This book made me think and reflect on a lot of things but most of all, it made me think about life and all its complexities. No matter how much we may want to -- try to -- plan or control things, life happens and more often than not, takes on directions that we don’t expect, can’t anticipate, can’t control, and oftentimes can’t change. Whether good, bad, or indifferent, when life happens, even the best-laid plans cannot help us avoid it. Wonderful book, highly recommended!!! Received advance reader’s copy from Penguin Press via Penguin First to Read program and Edelweiss.

I truly appreciated the opportunity to read an advance copy of Little Fires Everywhere. I have not read Celeste Ng's previous book, but i had heard good things abou this author. I thought Little Fires Everywhere was an engrossing book about two families whose lives become deeply intertwined. Her characters are multi layered and very realistic. Her descriptions of Shaker Heights make it come to life, and I would know as I grew up a few streets away. I couldn't put this book down and plan to read her first book very soon.

Even though I have been hearing good things about this book (Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng) I really wanted to read and enjoy this book but it just couldn't keep my attention. I started to read it but as hard as I tried it wasn't for me. Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

I can't say enough good things about this book! There were so many different layers to the story and I found myself thinking about the characters and the choices they made for days after I finished reading the book. It would make for a good book club selection because people are going to have strong opinions about some of the things that were brought up in this book. This was my first time reading anything by Celeste Ng and I'm excited to check out her previous novel. Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy!

Thank you for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Celeste Ng's newest release, Little Fires Everywhere. I loved the family drama woven at the heart of her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, and I was so excited to receive this eARC. Ng has made a name for herself when it comes to telling intricate tales of family drama, and her latest lives up to the hype. Both families struggle in their own ways and have difficulty clearly communicating, which is honestly a big pet peeve of mine. When the Richardson's home is set on fire, there are very few suspects the family has in mind. The discovery of the real cause behind the fire is unexpected, though. Social issues of today are prominent in the story, which add to the intrigue and realism of the plot.

This book follows an interwoven set of families in the overly-sculpted town of Shaker Heights, where secrets drive every act in this page-turning story. I was hooked from the start; on the first few pages we discover that the Richardsons' house has been set ablaze...but why? The story flashes back to race through a complex web of mysterious developments, leaving the reader wondering how these events dovetailed into the perfect (fire)storm. Along the way, Ng's writing poses difficult questions about families and appearances, as well as the social issues like race and immigration for which she is already well-known. I hadn't read Ng's debut novel "Everything I Never Told You" before I started this one, but now I am running to get a copy of it, too.

Thank you for an opportunity to read Celeste Ng's LIttle Fires Everywhere. I greatly enjoyed her first novel and was excited to read her sophomore effort. Ng's terrain fascinates me: the complicated, fragile dynamics that make up the 'typical' American surburban family. Nothing is simple and no one fully understands anyone else. Typically, the way she draws characters is impressive - how she is able to show their flaws and failings, to help us understand why they make the choices they do. Which is why I was disappointed by Little Fires Everywhere. Because the character of Elena Richardson's character was a problem. While I understood who she was, I did not believe she would act as she did. And so much hinged on her doing what she did. I felt Ng's plot spun out of control and Elena became a tool to resolve it. It made a rich, complex story veer into soap opera territory.

Celeste Ng nailed it! Little Fires Everywhere is a beautifully written novel that delves into the complicated relationships of family dynamics. The novel is set in the perfect community of Shaker Heights. Elena Richardson lives the perfect life along with her husband and four children. Mia and her daughter Izzy live a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, moving from state to state, city to city, eventually landing in Shaker Heights as Elena Richardson's rental home tenant. As the Richardson family becomes curious of Mia and Izzy's story, more questions than answers arise. This novel had me feeling all the emotions as I traveled on a roller coaster of ups and downs. I was able to connect in some way with each and every character. The story allows various perspectives on mother/daughter relationships and is undoubtedly an incredible and entertaining read.

This book is simply wonderful. It tells the story of the Richardson family, well-to-do and living in the affluent town of Shaker Heights. When new tenants Mia, the artist and her daughter, Pearl move into the neighbourhood, they impact on all of the Richardsons in startling ways. What I really enjoyed about this book was the foreshadowing. We know from the outset what will happen and the book then goes about the delicious process of telling us how we get there. The characters are incredibly well drawn and totally believable. They are all flawed in their own unique ways and all skirt the border between right and wrong. The narrative flows with a fluidity that makes it one of those books that you just keep on reading without realising. There are some great debates here about what makes a good mother, whether cultural difference should be embraced or ignored and what place art has in the world. All of the issues, some quite painful and 'hot button', are viewed with objectivity and the book stays away from drawing any conclusions - that is left up to the reader. I think this would make a great book club read and I really look forward to reading Celeste Ng in the future - she is an author of consummate skill. I received a free copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Very well rounded book! I love how everything came full circle at the end. My only regret is not knowing how it all turns out for them all! I felt like I was there with them. The main lesson I picked up from this story is that there is always more to the story. Thanks first to read for my advanced copy!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a multi-faceted novel that explores motherhood, family, relationships, socioeconomic status, and all the grey areas in-between. Celeste Ng quickly creates characters that feel insanely real. She draws off of stereotypes so that the reader quickly assumes an image of each person. But then she burns them down. There are the upper class suburbanites (the Richardsons and McCulloughs) , the problem child (Izzy), the golden children (Lexie and Trip), the sensitive intellectual (Moody), the flighty starving artist with a teenage daughter (Mia and Pearl) , and the poor Chinese immigrant (Bebe). However Ng masterfully deepens the characters beyond these stereotypes with backstory and the complicated intertwining of their relationships. Little Fires Everywhere opens your mind to more than what appears on the surface and shows that everything can't be put into a nice little box, contrary to what Mrs. Richardson thinks. For instance the book takes on sensitive the subjects of repression, racism, abortion, adoption, custody issues, and motherhood, and it isn't about taking a "stance" on any of these, but rather displaying the grey areas in all of their glory. To show that life is a complicated thing and everyone has to make hard decisions and live with them. I realize I might have just made the book seem super heavy by the above description, but somehow Celeste Ng manages to pull it off without it being. I read it super fast because she writes beautifully and sucks you into each character's life, building them in a suspenseful way that leaves you craving more info about each one. I'm always skeptical to pick up books based on interpersonal dramas, because they often fail to hold my interest or end up being overly melodramatic. However, I finished Little Fires Everywhere in a couple of sittings, and the characters seem so believable they could be your neighbors. Celeste Ng builds a little fire in the reader that leads to a conflagration. A real conflagration in fact. I would definitely recommend this book.

I came to this book not having read Celeste Ng's other popular work, Everything I Never Told You (although I will be now), so it was nice to have a clean slate and no expectations for Little Fires Everywhere. I found this book engaging and entertaining from page one, hard to put down, the kind of book that has you picking it up first thing in the morning to see what happens next. I loved all the characters, and with a cast of many, it speaks to Ng's talent that each one stands out in my mind as a dynamic individual. This plot was not what I saw coming, what I expected was your typical family drama, with uninvited outsider and outcast child, but what you get is so much more. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads for the sole reason that I don't like non-endings. I like to see every loose end tied up in a pretty bow, and that's not what you get here. While this does not dampen my enthusiasm for the book, it did leave me wanting more after I turned the last page. Thank you for the ARC!

It was an interesting contemporary adult fiction read, which mothers world-wide will love. In the end I really enjoyed it, although in the beginning it was kind of slow and flat. I was eager for family secrets to unravel and I'm glad I stuck with it. I liked how the author gets the new reader prepped for the town and how it also sets him free for new experiences. Sometimes you want to live in that perfect - or so it seems - universe that the story depicts, but you soon realize that everybody is the same everywhere. Life's cycles are similar all around the world. Each of the side stories are wonderful and it will make everyone empathize with at least one character.

This is a story about 2 families that find their lives becoming intimately intertwined. At the center, is an adoption case that has everyone divided. Celeste Ng has a talent for layering together plot and character development in such a seamless, smart way. I found myself putting this down and then picking it up a few minutes later because I needed to know what was going to happen next. I will say that I do prefer Everything I Never Told You. There were some parts of this story that I felt like were over developed, and others that weren't developed enough. But it does not take away from the beauty of the story and the fantastic writing. Definitely recommend.

Little Fires Everywhere explores so many facets of family-- what makes a family, is there a right way to raise our children, how do we recover from our mistakes. I loved the way the story unfolded, and getting to know all of the characters (maybe Mrs. Richardson less so) and seeing how their lives intertwined and changed as the story progresses.

Even though this book took me forever to read it was worth it. The author did a phenomenal job intertwining each of the characters and their troubles. The book starts with the Richardson’s house burning down. The youngest Richardson child, Izzy, is missing but no one seems surprised and is right away blamed for starting the fire. I love how the story goes back in time and is unfolded for us; it is weaved together beautifully. There is an adoption custody story arc which interested me since I am adopted. The author captures the complexity of relationships in families perfectly, especially mother daughter relationships. I highly recommend this wonderful book on the complexity of domestic and suburban life.

I liked Celeste Ng's first book, Everything I Never Told You, so I was happy to receive an advance reading copy of her second book from Penguin's First to Read program. Little Fires Everywhere did not disappoint, and in my opinion, is better than Ms. Ng's first book. She has provided a look inside two families in very different economic situations. While society might judge one family to be more successful based upon outward appearances, this story makes the reader question those assumptions, and to further examine the relationships between mothers and daughters. I liked that the story started with a catastrophic event and then took the reader back through the moments that led up to the destruction of the Richardson's house. All the characters seemed believable and the author did a wonderful job of portraying the lives of high school students. I think this book could generate a lot of discussion in a book club about the ethics of the actions of Elena Richardson and Mia Warren.

Little Fires Everywhere was a breathtaking and beautifully written story that kept me engaged throughout the whole book. The story was masterfully written with characters that drew me in. I was completely engrossed in each person, their lives, and their relationships. These characters had depth and felt so very real. The storyline was well crafted and I enjoyed how everything came together. This book kept me fully engaged and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for good characters, an engaging read, or an interesting storyline.

I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere a great deal! Definitely a 4/5 star novel. It felt very similar in terms of tone and themes to Celeste Ng's first novel Everything I Never Told You, so I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed that. It was a fun and relatively easy read, I went through it quickly and the plot managed to catch me by surprise more than once (almost in a pleasant way). Ng explores adolescence, class, race, motherhood, etc, with the acknowledgement of complexity these topics deserve.

What a masterful novel. Celeste Ng has a way of drawing you into a world you didn't even think you'd be interested in. Pearl and her artist mother Mia come to a new town after a wayfaring life of short stays in numerous places. This time, Mia says, they're staying for good. They make an impact just by being themselves. You'll fall in love with these characters, and want to hear their stories, including all of the members of the Richardson family, from whom Mia and Pearl rent a flat. Somehow you see this story from multiple points of view, and see people make mistakes, yet still have empathy to understand where they are coming from. This would be an ideal book club pick, because there are so many things to discuss. There is a legal trial which will surely provoke an opinion from each reader, and if not, to cause them to ponder their views. I'd love to see this story continued as Mia and Pearl continue on through life. On a random note, there is a school prank played in this book that even I enjoyed, and I hate school pranks, but this was inspired. I am so glad I got the chance to read this.

I loved Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You so I was very, very excited for Little Fires Everywhere. Little Fires Everywhere is beautifully written, layered, and compelling, weaving together the past and present of the Richardsons and Mia and Pearl Warren, two families who are opposites in so many ways. Lines blur between the families at the same time that a local court case places them on opposite sides. Little Fires Everywhere explores the gray area - there is so frequently no right or wrong, no villain in the story. Each character simply makes the best choice they can, and carries on.

Little Fires Everywhere, a story about what lies just below the surface, takes apart each character like working parts and exposes the inner mechanisms that make each one tick; motivations are exposed, actions and reactions surface, opinions are formed then twisted or abandoned. Much like Mia's art, the author takes an everyday situation, disects it's components and reconstructs it in a beautifully written prose that not only tells a tale, but conjures fantastic images that illustrate each scene with words instead of pictures. Each character is such a uniquely flushed out personality, you're left to wonder if Ng is writing fiction or a fanciful retelling of factual events. I especially enjoyed how Ng managed to build up characters over time, so that the reader gets to experience meeting each character just as you would meet a new person; a slow build up of first impressions that morph as you get to know a persons everyday actions and learn their back stories and traumas. Her use of flashbacks to tell the history of each character managed to add to, rather than detract from or distract from, the main storyline. Where a lot of writers would normally fall flat, each flashback came at just the right time and without unnecessary details that clog up other writers' attempt at the same technique. Just as the title suggests, Ng started little fires, or storylines, with the end result of a grand flame that fancinated me from beginning to end. Much like watching flames in a fireplace consume the wood burning there, I was consumed by this story. I didn't want it to end.

In her sophomore offering, Celeste Ng addresses interracial adoption. Similar to Shanthi Sekaran's [book:Lucky Boy|29430055] and Thrity Umrigar's [book:Everybody's Son|32051571] she weaves through the story some heavy and very real issues that are probably more common in this country than people imagine: what if the birth mother wants their child back? where is the line deciding whether blood is better for a child rather than money, solid family life, etc? and of course, what role does race play in adoption placement and should it be a consideration? As the fost-adopt mom of a child with a different ethnic background and a few years prior to that dealing with the system, I have a LOT to say on this matter but this isn't the place for it. (Except I will express a certain annoyance with people who have no qualms changing a child's name at adoption. This touched a special chord with me as many people, including the family court judge, asked if we were changing our son's first name. Um, no! Not unless he wants to. Why would you do that to a child? And yes, I realize Mai Ling / Mirabelle was an infant and our son was older, but it still rubs me the wrong way.) Ms. Ng does not step lightly around these big issues but instead throws them at her audience and characters full blast. But because life isn't singular, while grasping for level footing on the issue of the questionable adoption, her female characters have their own issues to deal with. In this way, Ms. Ng presents a complex novel fleshing out several issues that face females like self-image, relationships, wanted/unwanted pregnancy, etc. The only negative thing I can say regarding Little Fires Everywhere is that at one point the story veers off into one of the character's pasts for way too long. I understood why Ms. Ng felt the need to present this story but wish it had been more concise and done in a different manner instead of feeling like an interruption to the main story. Despite the book within the book, this is a thought provoking and heart wrenching story about individuals and a town coming to terms with racism, privilege, and their own identity.

As someone who was a teen in the Cleveland area in the late 1980's, I could imagine so many of the locations in the book that reading it was like a trip down memory lane. A great read, especially the chapter alternating between Bebe and Mrs. McCullough. It was eye-opening to see the heart-breaking situation from both points of view.

This is my first reading experience with this author and I found both the plot and characters entirely compelling. It explores parenthood and what exactly makes a good parent, whether it is money and want or actual DNA. I really enjoyed this book and will now go back and read her first book. 4 stars.

I enjoyed Celeste Ng's previous work, and I was just as engrossed with this one. She carefully picks apart the complicated ties that bind together our lives, exploring what it means to be a parent, a friend, a child. I'm still thinking about the characters now, even though I've read the last page. Where are they now? Will they ever unravel the stories of who they are meant to be, to themselves and to each other?

This was a beautiful book. It's complex, multi-layered, and filled with striking images that form an eclectic cast of unforgettable characters. I actually enjoyed this book much more than Ms. Ng's debut novel, and I think it has much more depth to it. Covering issues of isolation, secrecy, race, morals, and youth, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE covers a lot of ground that's worth investigating. While it's not a perfect novel (some of the characters felt stereotyped, and their transformations at times felt summarized rather than depicted), it is one that will leave you thinking for weeks after you've made it through the striking ending which so perfectly answers the story's beginning (a seemingly classic Ng move at this point). For those of you who have read it, if Mrs. Richardson's fateful ending doesn't give you goosebumps, then I'm not sure what else could. This book was a pleasure to read, and it's exciting to see the author developing as a writer and strengthening her craft with the sophomore release.

I have tried to read this book at least five times. I have only made it to page 16. This book is definitely not for me. Life s too short to waste my time on a book that does not grab my attention.

Little Fires was one of the very best books that I have ever had the opportunity to read. I had never even heard of this author before and was so glad that I got the opportunity to review this book. The storyline, description, and characters were so well written that I felt that I was in the story. I loved the characters of Mia and Eliza and found them to be complex and loved unwrapping their stories. I have added Everything I Never Told You to my wish list and will be purchasing this soon.

Author Celeste Ng writes beautifully and engagingly while exploring personal identity across the lifespan, juxtaposed with physical appearances. She began this discussion with her first book, Everything I Never Told You, but she raises it to new heights with this, her second, Little Fires Everywhere. The action takes place in Shaker Heights, outside of Cleveland, a planned community of upper middle-class lives determined to function in a very organized, routine fashion. Into this mix arrives a single mother, an artist, living a purposefully unorganized life, and her teen daughter, now yearning for routine. The artist and her daughter rent an apartment from the 'perfect' family with 4 teenagers and the artist eventually works part-time as their housekeeper. Boundaries are crossed when different teens are drawn to different lifestyles and to one another. Teens always reawaken their parents' earlier yearnings, and so will these. It's a complex mix especially when additional factors are added that only add to the story. This is one juicy tale and the author handles it so deftly, it takes time to appreciate all of her skills. She has so many. The characters are fascinating and fully-developed. I feel I know them; I can anticipate them. I may not like them but they are real to me. The story is multi-layered and complex enough that there is more than enough to engage me. There are ongoing issues that must be resolved in the plot that move it forward but there are also back stories and side stories that inform and engage. There were a few places where I got antsy, so the story was taut enough that I needed to keep moving forward. This is another great book from a first class author. I feel very lucky to have received a copy from Penguin's First to Read Program.

I very much enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere. It was a departure for me and one I'm pleased to have taken. The setting of Shaker Heights was interesting as it takes place in my home state and in an area I am familiar with. I appreciate that the characters are well drawn, complicated humans, very realistic in my view. The novel has a nice pace as the story unfolds and I found myself racing through to the end. I highly recommend this interesting, and to me, unique book. I can't wait to read more from Celeste Ng

I absolutely loved this book. Celeste Ng's writing is just so delightful and beautiful. This book is a complicated story about motherhood and family, specifically what it means to be family by blood or family by choice. There's a bit of a mystery to it, but the main draw is the fantastic characters. Each of the women in this book are complicate, not always likable, but always real. I couldn't put it down.

Little Fires Everywhere is genial. The construction of the plot and the depth of the characters had me hooked from the start. It dialogues about so much; about becoming a teenager, about first loves. about family and most brilliantly about motherhood. Ng composed layers and layers of articulate personalities that carry secrets and strong bonds. As the narrative takes place the setting starts to bring little criticisms to the controversial topics occurring (abortion, adoption, racial issues, the tough decisions of motherhood), that are all placed with many different points of view. All the while mysteries surround the story, underlining the build-up to the little fires, intensifying all that is slowly uncovered. This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year and already have plans in re-reading.

This book is everything to me. Little Fires Everywhere touched me deeply in its discussion of motherhood and adoption (in many forms). As an adopted Chinese-American, I underestimated the pull it would have for me. Please learn from my mistakes. Little Fires Everywhere is a must read for anyone who is a mother, would like to become a mother, or is interested in a careful exploration of what motherhood means. Shaker Heights is all about planning. They plan what color your houses can be based on the style, how tall your lawn can go, and what the streets look like from the outside. The Richardson matriarch, Elena, has lived by this principle. She has carefully calculated her life. But she never could have expected Mia Warren and her daughter to not only shake the foundations of their community, but to change her family forever. Mia is an artist and single mother who rents the Richardson’s duplex. Soon all four Richardson children are drawn to the pair, attaching like barnacles or in love. However, Mia is different from most others in Shaker Heights. Not only does she have a dangerous secret, but she does not mind rocking the boat. When a pair of family friends of the Richardsons try to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle breaks forth that divides families and puts the town at opposition with itself. Even more so, Elena and Mia seem to be on rival sides. I took three pages of notes on this book, so to say I loved it and it made me think is an understatement. What I loved so much about this book had to be the discussion of motherhood. Ng masterfully weaves us a narrative that examines the idea of motherhood under a magnifying glass and from many angles. We see those who do not wish to become mothers, those who desperately desire children, and even those who deemed ‘unacceptable’ mothers. The last categorization of mothers is incredibly touching to me, because it interacts with the adoption narrative – which is extremely personal to me. Ng asks us if there is something essential about the connection between a mother and a child, if nurture could erase this bond. We are also asked who defines an (un)fit mother/family? Is it about our circumstances now or does it apply to our potential? In this space of debate, Ng opens up a discussion about the pressures and responsibilities we put on mothers. We expect mothers to ‘raise their children better’ (or what they mean by this is raise their daughters better so that they do not become mothers themselves), and infallible, magically able to make anything work, even if they are desperately poor and have a moment of doubt. (Not to mention the utter irony of the singular responsibility of women to ‘know better’ about having children, as if accidents or other parties were not involved). Another moving topic that Ng deals with is the subtle racism still prevalent in American culture – the way the Asian identity is erased. Even growing up, I felt the same struggles of finding dolls or books that reflected who I am. I remember it was a huge deal in my house because the American Doll Company had no Asian ‘American Girl’. A lot of what I was able to find was fetishized, or how Western culture interpreted Chinese culture. Not only is this a factor in the adoption debate, but a beam of light is shed on this aspect through a side character. (Additionally, I found the argument of ‘not seeing race’ to be particularly insightful in this book. There’s this tension between those in the community who believe they’re above race, while still feeling as if they are being ‘compassionate’ to those below them by throwing them the bones. At the same time, there’s the very real issue of ethnicity that I briefly talk about above). I absolutely loved the characters of Mia, Pearl, and Elena’s daughter Izzy. In Mia I saw her resilience, her strength of spirit, and I loved seeing her backstory told through her perspective. Mia is incredibly insightful not only about art, but also life. I understood the difficulty of Izzy’s life – surrounded by people who do not understand her. Izzy almost became this silent underdog of my affection. She was fierce, compassionate, and incredibly misunderstood. And in Pearl I saw myself – the determination, the understanding, and the kindness. While I understood Elena’s character, she was a person I found difficult to like. But in that way, I think Ng did a fantastic job with her. She is not a ‘villain’ or a ‘hero’. Instead she is complicated – fighting a deep repressed sense of regret with a strict view of the world as black and white. I did not agree with her actions at all – but she sticks with you. Ultimately, we end with her story. The book is framed by a family tragedy from her perspective. And in this, Ng seems to ask us if people can change. (The entire ending for Mia and Pearl, Izzy, and Elena were perfect. There was this sense of poetic justice and hopefulness to it. Ng does not give us an easy ending either, as some resolutions to threads in the plot still give us pause to question). I could go on for days about this book, about its lush writing, about its look at class differences, or even its evocative descriptions of art. But to say the least, I loved it all. Little Fires Everywhere is one of those rare books where I loved every aspect – plot, setting, writing, and characters. I loved the mysterious plot and family secrets of Mia combined with Richardson children and adoption storyline. The setting of Shaker Heights is detailed and evokes some sort of mix between ‘Pleasantville’ and The Stepford Wives to me. I fell in love with the writing – the way the theme of motherhood is refracted in multiple lights and the exploration of mother/daughter relationships. And I enjoyed the characters, even the ones I disliked. There is an art form to writing a novel that incites passion, debate, and three pages of notes and Little Fires Everywhere is that novel.

This the the type of story that once I have started reading... I immediately want to go back and reread. While, to me, the transitions are clear, ichaoters are not entirely chronologically. We start with a fire and the family's reactions to it... and end with the family's continued reactions. In between we learn of the many shades of grey that the characters live in. Despite starting with a fire,I found the story was a bit slow at the start. However it picks up speed and I practically ran through the second half of the book. I cannot wait to reread it!


More to Explore

  • Everything I Never Told You

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