Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours 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 teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere was chosen by my bookgroup after it got so much love on Goodreads last year.

I’m going to be totally honest, I probably never would have read it as a personal pick. Having said that I did enjoy it.

The writing was excellent and the characterisation strong. I particually loved Izzie and the relationship she developed with Mia and Pearl.

This was a heartbreaking book at times, certainly not an easy read and it dealt with some really heavy issues. Adoption, abortion, and bullying to name a few. It wasn’t all dark though, there were some lighter moments as well.

Overall the book left me feeling kind of sad, which while it demonstrates the authors skill in storytelling isn’t something I generally enjoy in a book. It wasn’t a crying sad, just an unsettled one, a sense of something unfinished.

It likely says more about me than the book but I do prefer stories to have a ‘proper’ end and mostly a happy one too, or at least a sense of satisfaction.

A solid, well written story that I can absolutely see why others love, I found this a middle of the road read.

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