Now I Know Why It’s Buzzy – Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere    Little Fires Everywhere 2

I love both covers of this book!

Genre: Fiction

My rating: 5 of 5 bright stars  5 Stars

Little Fires 1

This is one of these books that knocks you over unexpectedly.

You’ll want to clear your calendar for reading this one, because the story grabs you at the beginning and doesn’t remove its strong grasp until the very end. It’s all-engrossing.

Plan for this book to be a time sucker, for a good reason. Chores will be ignored, family members will go hungry, meetings will be missed – all because of this book.

And it’s worth it.

Yes, I am one of the few that did not read Everything I Never Told You. <gasp!> I had heard that Celeste Ng’s writing is incredible, but I had to experience it for myself to truly believe it.

Little Fires 2

Little Fires Everywhere is captivating story about mothers and children, family dynamics, friendships, impossible decisions, complicated relationships and young adult connections in the picture-perfect community of Shaker Heights, a suburb near Cleveland, Ohio.

Shaker Heights 1

Shaker Heights plays a key role in the book. Celeste Ng grew up there, and shares more about how Shaker Heights has impacted her childhood: http://www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2014/07/writer_celeste_ng_talks_about.html

Shaker Heights seems like an idyllic place to raise a family. It seems insulated from race, prejudice, judgements, and class. It embraces diversity, peace, community, and all type of political, religious, and social views. It has beautiful homes of all sizes, lush parks and the best schools in the area. The people are nice, caring, upstanding citizens. Crime is low. It is an American utopia. It’s like a real-life Mayberry.

Little Fires 3

Elena Richardson has lived in Shaker Heights all of her life, and, like the town, her life has been masterfully planned and executed. She has a loving husband, 4 amazing teen children – Lexie, Trip, Moody, and Izzy, a beautiful home and the best of everything. She is perfect, and her life is perfect.

Newcomers Mia Warren and her teen daughter Pearl are free spirited wanderers that have moved frequently through the years. Mia supports herself by taking odd jobs while her passion lies with art and photography. They rent a townhouse from the Richardsons, and thus begins an close intersection of the Richardson and Warren families. Various family members spend a lot of time at both at the Richardson house and the Warren rental, and get to know each other intimately. Throw in a controversial adoption that divides the town, and the families, and this results in heartbreak and drama.

People who know each other well know each person’s weaknesses, sensitivities, and the secrets to hurting each other. And that’s exactly what the Richardson and Warren families did.

The premise might seem boring but it’s deceiving. It’s not the premise that kept me reading; it was the stellar writing style and the characters. None are perfect, but all are relatable, human, fallible, and you end up sympathetic and caring about them.

This book leaves a lasting impression. It’s very layered and complex with many characters, but easy to follow. You make judgements on each person, but over time, your perspective will change as you get to know each one to the core.

Celeste Ng leads the pack on a minority writer’s group  – she joins Amy Tan, Kevin Kwan, and Khaled Hosseini in the group of Asian authors that I’m proud to share my heritage with.

NPR has a very good article on this book, which reinforced the hype for me: http://www.npr.org/2017/09/09/549552722/a-mother-and-daughter-upset-suburban-status-quo-in-little-fires-everywhere

I was hooked at the first chapter and I would have read this book in one setting if I could.

I wonder what Celeste Ng will write about next. No matter the subject, she will represent it well with sensitivity and depth.

This book has had a lot of buzz after its release – and it’s well deserved. Yes, I have jumped on the bandwagon.

Highly recommend.

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