Earlier this year, on the recommendation of my cousin, I read Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You. And I absolutely loved it. It is easily one of my favorite books of the year. So it’s probably not all that surprising that I flew through Ng’s newest book, Little Fires Everywhere, the second I got my hands on it. And it was just as amazing.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
(From Goodreads) 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.
Reading Celeste Ng’s novels is a unique experience. She takes stories that might be mundane or even gossipy and turns them into something entirely beautiful. Little Fires Everywhere is an absolutely gorgeous novel. I loved it so much. It reminded me what reading should be like; I slowed down and savored this book, which is something I haven’t done in a while.
This story is, in essence, a mystery. (There are actually two – I could argue three – mysteries, but I won’t spoil them for you.) But it doesn’t read like a mystery. It feels much more like a character study, and it is brilliant. Ng has a way of making you fall in love with all of the characters, and then making each of them break your heart. There are quite a few characters in this book, so I won’t discuss all of them, but I’ll mention a few favorites: I really loved Mia Warren. She was mysterious, but kind, and one of the biggest reasons I kept reading was that I wanted to find out more about her. I also developed kind of a soft spot for Izzy, because I identified with her more than anyone else. A lot of the characters in this book are not really great people, but that made the story so much more interesting and complicated.
The plot of this book was impactful, but somehow also subtle. It sneaks up on you and then punches you in the gut. Which, as you all know, makes for a great read. I was so intrigued by and invested in what was happening, and I felt a little empty once I’d finished it. I don’t want to say too much more, because I don’t want to spoil anything. All you really need to know is that this was an incredible novel, and I can’t recommend it enough.
★★★★★ – I think it’s pretty clear that I loved Little Fires Everywhere. If you enjoyed Everything I Never Told You, you definitely need to read this one. And if you haven’t, go out right now to the bookstore or library and get your hands on one of Celeste Ng’s books – you can start with either one – and read it. I promise you won’t regret it.
Little Fires Everywhere is available now – order your copy on Amazon.
I got this book via Book of the Month. You can find out more about BOTM and/or sign up here.
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