Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere

Book - 2017
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From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, the intertwined stories of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the 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.--Provided by Publisher
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780735224292
0735224293
Branch Call Number: FIC Ng, C 2017
Characteristics: 338 pages ; 24 cm

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karyn8787
Jul 31, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere tells the story of the Richardsons; a wealthy, privileged, picture-perfect suburban family; and the Warrens, the exact opposite. The story takes place in Shaker Heights, a suburban community taken to the extreme where everything must be perfect. Now enter Mia and Pearl Warren, a single mother and her daughter who disrupt the peace and status quo that exists in Shaker. The main portion of the story explores the tumultuous relationship between Mia Warren and Elena Richardson, the matriarch of the Richardson household. However, an equally intriguing storyline is explored regarding the fate of an adoption of an American born Chinese baby by a white couple. While these premises seem simple at first, Ng fills the novels with twists and turns you could never expect and makes it near impossible to put the book down.
I can't stress enough how much I LOVED this book. To be honest, I think I am on my third or fourth reread of this book and I still discover new details every time. This novel makes you question your beliefs about motherhood and what determines right and wrong in such morally ambiguous situations. Furthermore, the story still captures the experience of a teenager growing up and the constant societal and peer pressure put on you to conform. The experiences of the children in the story make a beautiful story in itself. In reality, this novel is multiple stories stitched together and interwoven to create a book that is equally gripping, heart-breaking, and provocative. As I mentioned above, this story is filled with plot twists that you will never expect and will keep you at the very edge of your seat. Little Fires Everywhere is a must-read and I highly recommend it to everyone.

k
kaitoryn
Jul 24, 2020

Rather than focusing entirely on what's to come next in its plot, Little Fires Everywhere places just as much emphasis on uncovering the past. (Technically, one could say that everything in the plot is in the past, since Ng introduces readers to the story at its end.) Yet, by "past", I'm referring to the histories of the characters--their backgrounds, childhoods, career journeys, or basically everything that has molded them into the people they are now. Ng strengthens the story with these anecdotes, allowing the readers to fully grasp the complexities of her characters and comprehend the reasoning behind their actions. By doing so, there is an ambiguity in which no character appears as completely good or bad, thus bringing light to the realistic intricacies of the story's topics, such as motherhood.
I also enjoyed how Ng highlights the massive influence of parenting on a child's life and beyond into adulthood. This idea is seen through the behaviors of the adults and the children in the story, and they can be distinguished as those who remain in the tight grasp of their upbringing, or those who eventually break free.
However, I ended up being slightly disappointed with the ending, as I was left wanting for more closure. The ending felt too abrupt, and I had incorrectly expected the children to have some sort of significant involvement in it. While I was a bit let down, I resorted to the conclusion that the author had purposely left the ending in this way. Like how Mia and Pearl abruptly left Shaker Heights, we, as the readers, similarly abandon this story comprised of the past to further stress the idea that only ashes remain, and that there is no resolution but for the characters to start anew.

k
kleesiebels
Jul 15, 2020

reminded me of old roommate from Shaker Heights in Cleveland.

j
JankaManka
Jul 09, 2020

A novel about hypocrisy, convenience and conviction that what is right for you just MUST be right for anyone else. But, sometimes, the ugly truth prevails... There are two heroines - one lives a convenient, straightforward life of middle class. Very soon she falls in the trap of believing that if you live "right", and under certain rules which are "generally known and respected", if you can defer wrong from right, nothing can happen to you or your beloved ones and you deserve anything your heart desires. The other one has a different, but much fuller life, and stirs established family conditions of the well-off first heroine. However, I did not like the end. The middle-class heroine, after a family disaster, suddenly starts to see through and decides to change. A heartbreaking, complex story.

c
christinegregori
Jul 05, 2020

This book was pretty interesting and started off so strong and mysterious but it fell a bit flat for me.

a
AMWayment
Jun 22, 2020

Everything in Shaker Heights is planned and there are rules that residents must follow. Houses can only be painted certain colors (to ensure aesthetic harmony), garbage is never put out in front of the house, lawns must always be cut promptly, etc.

The city motto says it all:“Most communities just happen; the best are planned”

When Mia Warren and her fifteen year old daughter, Pearl rent a home from the Richardsons, a prominent Shaker Heights family – their lives will become intertwined in ways they never could have imagined.

Mrs. Richardson liked to rent to people she felt were deserving of her help, people who may have had some tough turns in life. She felt it was her way of giving back. When she first meets Mia Warren and her daughter she thinks they are the perfect tenants.

One of the Richardson boys, Moody is curious about the new tenants and heads over to the rental property. Moody and Pearl hit it off immediately. Moody who has never wanted for anything, is surprised at how this mother and daughter make their way. Mia can stretch a dollar (and leftover food) farther than anyone he’s ever seen. It’s not long before Moody brings Pearl home to meet everyone. Soon Pearl is spending much of her time at the Richardson home. At first, everything is fantastic. Mrs. Richardson even hires Mia to do some housekeeping and cooking at the Richardson home. But it won’t be long before the many differences between Mia and Mrs. Richardson cause a divide that will affect the two families in unimaginable ways.
At first, Mia came across as incredibly selfish but it wasn’t long before I loved her. Her caring ways were evident and how she responded to the different crises that came up endeared her to me. I may not have agreed with all of her choices but I could certainly see how she would have made them. Right off the bat I was irked by Mrs. Richardson (the fact that she was rarely referred to by her first name was fitting). Mrs. Richardson was the type who wanted to be seen as someone who cared and helped others. However, you could tell right away that she kept track of all the good things she had done. And you never knew when Mrs. Richardson would want a repayment of her “kindness”.
There was a lot going on in “Little Fires Everywhere” but I found it easy to keep up. I will say that it had a bit of a slow start but I feel the author was just setting the stage for all that was to come. And once I hit the halfway mark, I was so completely invested into all of their lives and HAD to know what was going to happen next.

ChChlibgirl Jun 15, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere is a psychological mystery- much too slow burning to call a thriller- set in the suburb of Shaker Heights, Cleveland, where conformity is highly prized. Family dynamics, secrets, betrayal, and class differences are key elements of this novel. My interest did start to wane partway through, and though there are plenty of quite vivid characters I just didn’t find many of them to be particularly likeable, nor did I understand the choices they made, which made for some frustrating reading; however the story strands were intriguing enough to pull me through.

p
PiepieB
Jun 02, 2020

The first 100 pages or so seemed slow to me, but then things were kicked into high gear and the pages just flew. An excellent, excellent book - it's amazing how the words were conjured together, how the strands that made up the web of this story just kept connecting all the characters and their secrets. I loved how everything came together at the book's end - the fire, the characters and some of their backstories, and then the fire again. No, not everything was cut and dried at the end, but still, a very, very good ending. Celeste Ng is a genius, magical in the art of storytelling. Make this one of the books you pick up this year. I highly recommend the Hulu series as well!

j
jfd5
May 31, 2020

Very much enjoyed his book. A quick read. You never know what goes on behind closed doors.

s
Suellen1111
May 26, 2020

Worth reading. The characters are well defined & likeable; the plot line holds your interest. The first half is slow -- I skipped over some of it -- but it sets the stage for the action in the second half. And while the ending is not definitive, we have a pretty good idea how the characters are going to play it out. Originally, I resisted this book -- picked it up twice before I really got into it -- but it was well worth the effort.

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Quotes

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a
ambdizzle
Aug 23, 2019

If a soul could leave a body, she thought, this is the sound it would make: like the screech of a nail being pulled from old wood.

t
TheresaAJ
May 07, 2019

"But the problem with rules, he reflected, was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time there were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure which side of the line you stood on."

t
TheresaAJ
May 07, 2019

"Like after a prairie fire. I saw one, years ago, when we were in Nebraska. It seems like the end of the world. The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning the soil is richer and new things can grow."

TheBookWitch Apr 14, 2018

"To a parent, your child wasn't just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once. You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she'd been and the child she'd become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously, like a 3-D image. It made your head spin. It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again." p. 122

ArapahoeMaryA Mar 15, 2018

Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.

c
cknightkc
Jan 30, 2018

“…his life had been divided into a before and an after, and he would always be comparing the two.” - p. 21

c
cknightkc
Jan 30, 2018

“All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control. It scaled walls and jumped over trenches. Sparks leapt like fleas and spread as rapidly; a breeze could carry embers for miles. Better to control that spark and pass it carefully from one generation to the next, like an Olympic torch. Or, perhaps, to tend it carefully like an eternal flame; a reminder of light and goodness that would never - could never - set anything ablaze. Carefully controlled. Domesticated. Happy in captivity. The key, she thought, was to avoid conflagration.” - p. 161

c
cknightkc
Jan 30, 2018

“Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn't, you might burn the world to the ground.” - p. 161

c
cknightkc
Jan 30, 2018

“One had followed the rules, and one had not. But the problem with rules... was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time they were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure what side of the line you stood on.” - p. 269

c
cknightkc
Jan 30, 2018

“Sometimes, just when you think everything’s gone, you find a way… Like after a prairie fire… It seems like the end of the world. The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow… People are like that, too, you know. They start over. They find a way.” - p. 295

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karyn8787
Jul 31, 2020

karyn8787 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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Kristen MERKE
Mar 25, 2019

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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coxkelsey72
Feb 27, 2019

coxkelsey72 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Mya614
Mar 04, 2018

Mya614 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Notices

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coxkelsey72
Feb 27, 2019

Sexual Content: Teenage encounters, abortion

c
coxkelsey72
Feb 27, 2019

Coarse Language: Mild swearing

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