Cover Image: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere

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Member Reviews

I was gifted an advanced copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

I was enthralled by the first few pages, but unfortunately the rest of the book fell flat for me. Ng readies the reader for an exciting ride just to throw us down the slowest-moving, slightly problematic, nearly plot-less, character portrait imaginable, which is not at all what I expected after those riveting first few pages. While many have enjoyed this novel, it simply wasn't for me.

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Family Dynamics! The interpersonal relationships within a family create a complex pattern complicated by the cross purposes of each individual as they forge their own pathway towards the future. A mother, while she loves her children, has a slightly different connection to each based on their unique personalities. Sometimes there's one who never seems to get things right and remains an irksome reminder of that illusive impeccable life we all daydream about in our youth. As my own offspring grew, I was amazed at the other parents whose unblemished children never caused them a moments anguish - always behaving appropriately, earning honors at school, scoring the winning run or goal on the sports team. My own children fell far short, although I loved them anyway and urged them to work hard and do their best in every endeavor. I concluded that either my children were subpar, or the other parents were liars (or at the very least in denial). In my experience there are ups and downs in each of our lives, joys and tragedies which pop up on occasion, and it's the family unit who sticks together that helps us celebrate the highs and get through the low points of our existence. Such is life reflected in the theme of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

Elena Richardson is one of "those" mothers. She created the perfect life in the perfect community with the perfect husband and three perfect children. Unfortunately, she has four offspring. The youngest, Izzy, is a thorn in her side, resisting motherly (smothering) concern, choosing the contrary side of an argument, and just not quite jelling with her siblings. She's not an evil child, just a soul who marches to the beat of her own drummer which drives a Type A personality like her mother to distraction.

Mrs. Richardson always planned to be a journalist but was not unhappy at her job as a reporter for the local paper which would never win her a Pulitzer but still gave her access to important information and people. Plus when she needed her credentials to do some sleuthing she was not afraid to call in those favors she had easily doled out over the years, assisting others yet keeping a tally for future reference. Things really start happening in her idyllic life once the nomadic Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl become tenants in their rental house. The photographic genius of Mia delights Elena who generously offers the super neat tenant a job as housekeeper/cook in exchange for enough salary to cover the lease agreement. Mia soon becomes a fixture in their home and Pearl develops into a sibling of sorts to the four teens, enjoying the luxuriously lifestyle which is the opposite of the normal hand to mouth existence of her daily world. Izzy latches on to the supportive, common sense manner of Mia, finding in her a comfort which is missing with her own mother. As the plot unfolds, the inner thoughts of each of the characters are revealed clarifying the life altering decisions which affect the outcome of all concerned.

The idea of motherhood is explored through various stories involving mother/child relationships. In a secondary subplot, Mr Bill Richardson, a lawyer, represents Elena's friends the McCulloughs who are caring for and hopefully adopting an Asian child who was abandoned at the local fire station. The real mother, a coworker of Mia's, now has a job, albeit for minimum wage, and wants her daughter back. The question remains - "Who will be the better parent?" - the struggling single parent birth mother or the well-to-do loving family who can provide for the baby's every need? This issue divides the town, leaving even the presiding judge in a quandary about the best verdict.

I felt a connection to this story since Little Fires Everywhere takes place in the 1990s in a suburb outside of Cleveland during the some time period I was raising my own four children in an upscale community outside of Buffalo. Cultural references brought back memories of those days which compensates for the slow start of this novel. The author Celeste Ng has a talent for skillfully interweaving the lives of the secondary characters flawlessly into the narrative enriching the entire plot. However, while this well written books brings up some interesting questions, it also has some disturbing turn of events which leaves the reader in a wistful mood. There is more than enough finger pointing and blame which doesn't distract from the pit-in-the-stomach feeling when things fall apart as secrets are revealed, tarnishing the golden glow of sublimeness and recognizing the reality that there is no such thing as smooth sailing. While there are promises of a positive outcome for some, the ambiguity of the future for others is disturbing and I'm not sure even the fire department can put out those flames.

Four stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I enjoyed this book very much. The cover really grabbed me, and the opening lines hooked me all the way in. "Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down." Ng does an amazing job of building tension--who is Izzy, how does she fit in with the rest of her family, why would she burn down their house... did she burn down the house? As the story unfolds, it seems that there are plenty of potential arsonists who might retaliate against the Richardsons.

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What an intriguing Novel. Celeste Ng has a knack for great character development - you really come to know the personality of each character. The novel holds many complex relationships and shows one that your actions in life have impact on your life as well as the life of others around you. Ng captures the complexities of motherhood and family life. She is a very talented storyteller!

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Different, Hunting, Beautiful!

This book had it all in a wonderful mixture, in a different way, telling a quiet but impactful story about different families, ways to grow up, to live your life and throughout it all having a discussion about "Is there a right way?"

This is a story that will stick with you. For better or for worse -its not a book you will read and forget about in a day.

is that good? Is it bad?
No idea. Read it and decide for yourself!

The writing was fantastic!
It had the perfect mixture of aloofness to tell the different POVs and very different stories in a way that the switches of POV and very different story lines made complete sense - because while we where told the stories from a specific persons/characters point of view, the way it was written/told it felt more like where are simply an observer. If that makes sense? I guess not really, i hope anyone understand what i am trying to say!

It actually felt like we are being told a story or are reading a story instead of actually being inside the story.

And i think for this type of story the book tells that was PERFECT!

We don't need to be directly inside the head of every character, feel their emotions and feelings and get told their every thought to understand why they are doing something or decide to make that decision.
We do get details, explanations, and snippets of thoughts but not every little thing. And that is not necessary.

I just love the writing - its not for everyone! But it was for me, so i am really happy!

The story itself?

It was great!

Its not a unique story. I have read a good amount of other family based stories that tell a similar if not the same plot itself BUT the author makes it unique in the way that she actually really showcases all those different types and options and shares all different opinions on it all. And she does it without it feeling as if she clearly pushing one view point or option or opinion unto the reader.

And that is something not a lot of authors can actually do!
Most books, most authors, do clearly showcase their own opinion on especially family matters very clearly throughout there books. what they think of adoption, how they think kids should be brought up, or how a family should live their life. It might not be something the author plans to clearly showcase -how he/she thinks about the topic- many of them clearly try very hard NOT to show that but they still do with how they word things, how they showcase specific moments throughout the story.

In this book? NON OF THAT!

And i really appreciated that.

I also loved that we see really all types of family.
Those that choose to leave, those that choose to stay, those that actually choose their type of family, those that expect way to much, those that don't have any expectations at all and basically everything in between.

Its lovely to see actual variety in families.

I also LOVED the discussion about adoption, what a family makes, what a mother makes and at which point a child becomes your child.

Celeste Ng had all the important points, talked about it from basically every side and also showed how difficult it can be to actually KNOW what is right or wrong -or if there even is such a thing especially in regards to a child.

If there really is a specific standard that should be meet, or if anyone can actually know what the standard is.

It was just a very lovely experience to see an actual discussion about that topic in a book that is real and open and honest but without pushing towards one specific opinion but actually showing that there might not be this one real right/perfect.

The ending.

Now that is one think that i KNOW a few people will complain about.

For me it fitted the book perfectly.

This type of book... there is never a really great way to end it. Someone will always have a different option, want more answers, wants to know more details... so how can this type of story actually end any differently than this book did?

Life is just like that. even if one specific part ends, it just keeps on going rather seamlessly.

Sometimes you get all the answers you want and expect to get.
Most of the time you won't. Most of the time you are left sitting with more questions than you started the entire journey out with.

So for me this ending? PERFECT for the story.
Still know a lot of other reviewers will complain about it. a lot i am sure.

I still enjoyed it and think it was really well done.

All in all?

This book was great!
I enjoyed the entire thing, i loved moments, i didn't agree with others, i appreciated the entire thing!

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Ng does it again - nothing is as it seems in the suburbs. This book explores the family dynamics of the Richardson family and the Warren family. And yes, nothing is as it seems. This book is subtle and filled with sacrifice.

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Celeste Ng is an Amazing writer and Little Fires Everywhere stays with you long after you finish the book. Her use of language is amazing and her storytelling is poignant and beautifully crafted. This isn't a book that you just read through one day and forget, it is one that after you turn the last page sits with you and then you keep coming back and thinking of the many little details that have been sitting in the back of your mind since you finished.

The multi-layered story is based around Shaker Heights, a character in itself, and several families that live in this town. The characters are vivid and raw and real and there are parts that make you laugh and cry and cringe and scream and this is by far one of the best books that I've read in a long time.

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my thoughts.

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All good things for this book - it's beautifully written and grabs you by the throat while reading. Fans of Ng's first book will not be disappointed, and I hope she finds legions of new fans with this one.

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"Little Fires Everywhere" grabs your attention from the very beginning. The RIchardson family of Shaker Heights, Ohio, appears outwardly to have it all--material success, a beautiful home in a planned community, successful and educated parents and 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. They have a vacant rental property which they rent to a single mother and her teenage daughter and the story takes off from there. The story begins with the burning down of the Richardson home and then a reflection back on why this could have happened.
There are several twists and turns that reflect society today. Beyond the relevance of the subject matter, the characters are so sensitively portrayed which contributes to it being a book you will want to recommend to others.

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"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." And indeed, the characters in this book keep finding ways to start over, to grow, to salvage what they can, and to move on. This is a beautifully written book. The characters are complex and the story is nuanced. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know!

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I really enjoyed this book. The first 100 or so pages kind of drug on while the author was trying to set up the characters. I will admit I was about to give up but then the story hit its stride and it all came together to tell a wonderful story. I will definitely read other books by this author

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Ng is by far one of my all time favorites and she doesn't disappoint with this new release. Mia started out as my least favorite but somewhere toward the end I had a change of heart. I really enjoyed the observations Ng makes about relationships.

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Celeste Ng delves into one of the most sought after relationships in terms of literary exploration: mother and daughter in her newest, [book:Little Fires Everywhere|34273236]. While seen as trite, she manages to create characters that seem new and fresh. Sure, we've all seen a Lexie Richardson and Izzy Richardson in books, but Mrs. Richardson..? Mrs. Richardson was both callous and understanding, underhanded and oblivious. And Mia-- such a sad, proud, lovely, draining take on an artist.

The love of a mother is both amazing and exhausting, and Ng does an excellent job portraying this. This is not necessarily a quick read, but more of a character study folded up into a loose plot.

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Ah, yes...nothing is as it seems in the idyllic suburbs. Ng adds heart and complexity to the familiar trope as she explores the dynamics between two seemingly different families. While examining the role of motherhood, it would have been easy to get heavy-handed and preachy (looking at you, Jodi Picoult)...but Ng trusts her many characters and lets their actions tell the tale. Mrs. Richardson is fascinating and utterly terrifying, and Mia is a great counterpart. Subtle, haunting, and an engrossing slow burn pace. Bonus: 90s nostalgia for days!


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Little Fires Everywhere is a book about family, about love, as well as conflict, about relationships in every form (be they romantic, platonic, or domestic) and how those relationships can change. It’s a book about identity and about art.

“Anything had the potential to transform, and this, to her, seemed the true meaning of art.”

In the centre of the story are Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, as well as the Richardson’s, and those two families and the way they encounter each other are the heart of the story. As the book goes on, many other characters are introduced, but I feel like the Warren’s and the Richardson’s are the forces that drive this story.

Even after reading only the first few pages of Little Fires Everywhere it’s already clear that Celeste Ng’s writing is beautiful. It’s effortlessly flowing, at times almost lyrical, and it’s like there’s a rhythm behind every sentence; for some reason the word “comfortable” comes to mind, which I never thought of anyone else’s writing before, but for some reason this is how I feel about Ng’s words.

I’m also really enjoying the way the story is narrated from someone who stands above the characters and sees everything. I’m usually not that much a fan of omniscient narrators, but here it fits wonderfully.

The characters, too, are incredible! I simply love Mia. That woman is so strong and creative and wonderful.

“Remember, Mia had said, 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.”

I like how the point of view changes, thus making it possible to get an insight into what every character is thinking. Sometimes I was so angry about what one of them had done, but after reading the next scene and understanding their intention and thought-process a bit more, I couldn’t stay mad. I felt with every character, which made the whole book that much more intense.

There’s also the aspect of culture. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say this: identity, family and race were all important topics and a huge part of the book was about how those issues are handled in society. What is it like to live as an Asian person, or as a black person, for that matter, in a society where white is the default?

In conclusion I can say that Little Fires Everywhere showed me how people come together and change each other’s life. We don’t live in our own little world, separated from what is happening around us. But to the reader, the omniscient narrator of the story made this possible: we got insights in each character’s mind, a small piece which they thought to be the whole thing – and then it all came together, every piece combined to the real story. At the same time, though, it is true that in reality we never know what other people are thinking, and this makes it impossible to leave our personal little world. This, too, I have learned while reading this book. We can only do our best and hope that it’s enough.

“All up and down the street the houses looked like any others—but inside them were people who might be happy, or taking refuge, or steeling themselves to go out into the world, searching for something better. So many lives she would never know about, unfolding behind those doors.”

Honestly, Celeste Ng surpassed all my expectations. What a book she wrote here! It’s beautiful, truthful, forgiving. It’s weird to say this, but reading Little Fireflies Everywhere truly changed my life and I’m sure that I will never forget it.

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Shaker Heights is one of my new favorite book settings. This was the perfect setting for Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. It’s the kind of place where nothing bad ever happens. Most of the residents never want to leave the town. They take pride in the town and all the little traditions that are part of life there. Of course, life in the town drastically changed when the new tenants arrived.

Mia and Pearl are the new residents of the town. They move in quietly to an apartment owned by the Richardson. They don’t really belong to Shakers Height and don’t have the money or status like other residents but Elena Richardson has an apartment that is perfect for Mia and Pearl. Soon, the two families’ lives start integrating and this lends is disastrous results.

This book had a wonderful narrative style. The author pulls you into the story and you soon get lost in Shaker Heights. I like how seamlessly the different POVs shifted from one character t the other. As readers, we get to meet each one of the characters and flow with their stories. There are a few flashbacks but this didn’t interrupt the flow of the narrative. I think it was pure genius how this author managed to interweave the stories this way.

Little Fires Everywhere is an addictive read. The character development is so great that it becomes easy to get lost in the lives of the MCs. I also liked the tension in the book. As secrets were revealed, I was eager to find out the events that happened in the past. I also couldn’t wait to see the chaos that was threatening the present calm as the story progressed. I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a gripping read. I am actually going to miss the characters in the story. That is how memorable and realistic they were.

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Celeste Ng has a way of telling family stories that say a lot about race and family and identity in a way that reads as both literary fiction and mystery. This novel felt a lot like her debut in that way. The plot is moved forward at a good pace throughout the novel, and it doesn't feel long or drawn out, but the characters are always well-developed and interesting and it feels like you're getting a fly-on-the-wall perspective on these families. I thought the discussion about race and adoption were particularly interesting and gut-wrenching, and though I found the ending to be a little bit predictable, that didn't bother me at all. I still enjoyed the story from beginning to end.

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What an amazing book! A definite must read and I will be suggesting this title and this author to all my friends!

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Little Fires Everywhere is the type of story whose characters will stay with you long after you're done reading it. Just like with her debut novel, the focus is put on family dynamics. Ng has a way with presenting these picture-perfect families, and then dissecting every single one of its members to expose the good and the bad. Here we follow two very distinct families: the Richardsons, the seemingly perfect suburban family, with two working parents and three kids. And then we have the Warrens, a family made up of a single mother with her teenage daughter, who have been traveling and living all over the country their entire lives. So what happens when two very different families come into contact? This book does an excellent job at showing the impact and influence anyone can have on another person's life.

The overly-descriptive writing style that characterizes Ng makes you engrossed in the story from the very beginning up until the end, where everything seems to come full circle for the characters. But Little Fires Everywhere is more than that. The story also poses so many interesting and controversial conversations of what motherhood is, and it doesn't shy away from exploring the different points of view when it comes to certain sensitive topics, such as abortion, race or adoption.

This novel is an emotional roller-coaster that makes you hate and love its complex and multi-dimensional characters. It's a story about motherhood, about the sacrifices that people often have to do in life, and the consequences those sacrifices may bring about. But it's also a story that shows that in life, there are no right or wrong paths, but rather different ways of getting to the same destination.

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Everyone has a story, but does everyone need to know it? Great characters and stories, although it did start a bit slow. Could easily have read a whole book on Mia's life.

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