In Little Fires Everywhere, we have the Richardsons and the Warrens: two families who couldn’t be more different. The Richardsons have lived in Shaker Heights, Ohio for generations and live to uphold the order and rules of the community. Mrs. Elena Richardson in particular is the epitome of the perfect suburban housewife with her seemingly picture-perfect family of two boys, two girls, and her husband. Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, on the other hand, move to Shaker Heights in hopes of a better life, one where they won’t have to pick up and move at a moment’s notice. Their lives have been a bit more sporadic, but out of the kindness of Elena’s heart, they are able to rent a home from the family. The Richardsons are immediately drawn to Pearl and her mother, finding it difficult to stay away from either one. As Pearl finds a special bond with each of the Richardson children, Mia and Elena’s lives also intersect. The two families get along well until Mia and Elena find themselves the middle of a custody battle over a Chinese-American baby.
Ng likes to start at the end of her stories and then backtrack to show you how we got there in the first place. While you find out how the story ends, Ng keeps you hooked as you discover chapter after chapter that there’s more than what lies on the surface of Shaker Heights. There’s always an air of mystery in this novel. Every character is given a unique story that weaves perfectly within the lives of the others. The layers of Ng’s craft is so intricately designed that each decision has a consequence, each secret has a price . . . and not just for the one keeping the secret. Ng has you contemplating your own actions, as well as your own mistakes with her portrayal of the Shaker Heights community.
Most of the time, everyone deserves more than once chance. We all do things we regret now and then. You just have to carry them with you.
Whether you want to read this for the moral conundrums, the family drama, the slight mystery, or simply because everyone else has been talking about it, I don’t think Little Fires Everywhere will disappoint. My in-person book club spans several generations and all of us had something to discuss about this one. It was a great conversation about a great read. Well written, intriguing plot, and a quick to boot. The ending left me wanting, but not enough to truly affect my rating.
The hype is real, folks. Add it to your holds at the library or even pick up a copy for yourself from a local bookstore. (Even better-add it to your Christmas list!)
TL/DR: Little Fires Everywhere is part mystery, part family drama, part Jerry Springer, and all intrigue. It’s a great pick for book clubs and reading groups of multiple ages.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
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