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Entertainment Weekly’s #1 Must-Read Book for Fall
Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club’s (@RWBookClub) Selection
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
“I am loving LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE. Maybe my favorite novel I've read this year.”—John Green
"I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting." –Jodi Picoult
"Witty, wise, and tender. It's a marvel." – Paula Hawkins
#1 Library Reads Pick
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.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great read for book clubs to discuss!
Little Fires Everywhere is one of the most riveting and brightly burning books that I have read this year. It is a captivating portrayal of family, community, and class in America that explores the sensitive and complex topics of abortion, surrogacy, multi-cultural adoption, views towards immigrants, and race. It is also a story of betrayal, lies, misunderstanding, trust, desires, and longing. At its very heart, it is a brilliant and evocative look at motherhood and what not only makes a “good” and “bad” mother but who even has the right to claim to be called mother—and lose that right. From the first page, I was fully immersed in the story, and that did not let up until the last page; there were two nights I stayed up reading it until way past 3 am just because I could not put it down! Celeste Ng is an unexcelled expert at brilliantly drawn plots and creating characters who are wonderfully fascinating, whether they are flawed or not. I'm a reader who loves stunning characterizations, the connections an author weaves from one character to another, and the way each character adds to the storyline. Ng is a master at this! She is not afraid to have her characters grapple with hard issues that expose their vulnerability. Nor is she afraid of exposing their flaws: selfishness, jealousy, criticalness, or their very human feelings of fear, cravings to belong, desires, and the poignancy of a mother's unrelenting love for her child that carries this book from start to finish. One thing I thought Ng used to marvelous and bold effect, and which made the connections with her characters even more intimate, was the omniscient style POV she uses to narrate the story. Instead of detracting from the characters (as it often can when used negligibly), it adds dramatic irony, is unique, and gives a highly distinctive voice throughout this novel. In the novel, we are introduced to many characters—major and minor and all make an impact in one way or another. But it is the wealthy Richardson family along with unconventional, gypsy-like, artist Mia Warren and her fifteen-year-old daughter Pearl that are the primary players in this novel. It is in these characters interactions and the full immersion into the other’s lives that causes quietly smoldering embers to begin unfurling into a slow, steady burn until an inferno rages inside both the characters and the storyline. Even the title of the book could not be more apt since when we meet the Richardson family, all but Izzy that is, their house is aflame, and the Shaker Heights gossip mill is running rampant about who set the blazing house fire! It's the hottest gossip of the summer! The Richardson family is affluent and successful, much like the suburban community of Shaker Heights where they live, which is a town built on rules, planning, security, stability, and conformity. They seem to be the perfect (almost) family living in perfect suburbia: Bill, a contented lawyer; Elena, a reporter and the oh, so rule abiding pillar of the community; Lexie, the spoiled princess; Trip, the stereotypical jock; Moody, smart and sensitive; and Izzy, misunderstood and unaccepted. Yet, there are hidden depths to them all, dormant sparks inside them just waiting to be lit. All it will take is one match, one spark. That spark is Mia and Pearl who move to town and rent the Richardson's rental house. Mia is a brilliant artist, a photographer; she is a non-conformist, a free spirit, a wanderer like a bird taking flight whenev
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is an incredible, very highly recommended novel about families, rule following, motherhood, and privilege. This novel is not to be missed. It is 1997 in Shaker Heights, Ohio, one of the original planned communities with rules for everything. Elena Richardson, the third generation to live in Shaker Heights, firmly believes in the perfection of her family, community and following rules, both communal and societal, and is proud she and her husband Bill chose to live and raise their family there. The novel opens with Elena in her bathrobe on the front lawn watching their home burn. Izzy Richardson, Elena's youngest, has set "little fires everywhere" to burn down the family home. The night before this Elena watched her renters, Mia and daughter Pearl, return the rental key in the Richardson's mailbox. After the opening, Little Fires Everywhere jumps back in time, to when Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl are moving into the duplex Elena inherited from her parents. Elena prides herself on picking renters she believes deserve her largess in the form of reduced rent and a chance for the chosen renters to live in Shaker Heights. Mia, a single mother, is an artist with a fifteen year old daughter, Pearl. The pair has lived an itinerant lifestyle for years, but now Mia has promised Pearl they will stay in Shaker Heights more than a few months. Soon Pearl becomes friends with the Richardson children, Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy. When Izzy meets Mia, she finally finds a compassionate adult who appreciates and supports her individuality, which stands in stark contrast to the constant correction, control, and belittling her mother heaps upon her. Elena, suspicious of Mia's rule-breaking lifestyle, sets her sights on Mia, and attempts to assert some control over her by basically forcing her into becoming the Richardson's housekeeper in exchange for rent. She is also determined to investigate Mia's background. When friends of Elena are planning to adopt an abandoned Chinese American baby the birth mother wants the baby back and a custody battle ensues. Once Elena realizes that she and Mia are on opposite sides of the controversy, she doubles her efforts to investigate Mia. But, as hard as Elena tries to control everything, life is unpredictable and can't always be controlled by following set rules. Elena's obsession and incomplete information resulted in unforeseen and unexpected consequences. Little Fires Everywhere is an exceptional, impressive novel and sure to capture some awards/acclaim this year. I was riveted to every page and found it impossible to put down once I started it. Little Fires Everywhere explores families, motherhood, class, lies, secrets, privacy, sacrifices, and how always following the rules isn't always the best choice. The quality of the writing is outstanding, sensitive, and complex. Ng captures a distinct sense of location and time in the narrative. Her characters are all unique and extraordinarily well developed as individuals. The different perspectives of her characters emerge and work together to create a multifaceted story. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.
Just how am I going to describe what it was to read this book? Reading a book by Celeste Ng seems to be a whole new experience I could never describe. This was my second by her and my second time that I finished the book feeling like I had actually lived together with the family—or families here—portrayed. This time, she tells the story of the Richardsons who befriend and almost adopt Pearl Warren into their lives. Pearl is the daughter of a single mother and feels dazzled by the suburban and protected the four kids have. She feels like she got a new brother in Moody, she wants to become Lexie and she's head over heels with Trip. And there's Ivy, who is always the black sheep. But even she will change when she meets Pearl's mother, Mia and sees in her more of a mother than her own. As the two families become more tangled, so do their secrets. And how does Mrs. Richardson feel about that? I did a terrible job with the summary but it doesn't matter how much I edit it it doesn't cover how intricate the plot is. Look at that cover, look at enticing title! How to resist? First, a brief comparison with Ng's previous novel Everything I Never Told You. I confess I liked it better but I also acknowledge Little Fires Everywhere had more depth and the writing was far more clean. And yet, I feel that EINTY had a thrill that was missing in this book. I call it "the lack of a ham". While the former started with the death of a teenager, the main event in LFE was the Richardsons house burning down. I think the difference in impact represents well the way I feel about each book. But as I was saying, this was a more complex story. Ng has managed to dive even deeper in the dynamics of a family—of two families, really. I ended the book feeling no one else could have written this story as well. EINTY relied a lot on copying characters, each of the siblings was a little of the other and a little of their parents. While it was still no easy feat to achieve, it pales when we're presented with the four Richardsons and the mother and Mia—the father had little to do here this time. Moreover, although Shaker Heights is described more like a small, closed community, the world of the book was vaster than the one of EINTY, from which we just got two or three side characters. Now we have a lot more happening, especially the case of the abandoned baby. On the other hand, I think that was one of the flaws. I do recognize the validity of Ng's arguments and what an important discussions it raises. However, it was a big distraction, in my opinion. The rest of the story was so tangled together, that the baby incident stood out. I know it was important for character growth, it has triggered events but it's still my opinion that she could have thought of a better catalyst or given less attention. At least, as I said, it was a good side story. Her characters are just so good. Her narrative is unique. It's hard to point out what I love the most about her. I confess I was a little afraid of feeling bored with all the family drama theme—I mean, when I got my first book by her—but it's quite the opposite. I'd describe the experience as watching those afternoon TV shows devoted to family issues, with a new revelation coming to trump the other, grinding our teeth for the big finish. Just give it a try. Now really... I need another book by this woman ASAP! When is the next coming out? Review based on an ARC provided by Edelweiss. I also want to thank the publisher.