“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.” (page 184 on my Kindle)
Little Fires Everywhere is a story about mothers. It is about families. It is about race and status and a planned community that appears perfect from the outside. Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, arrive in Shaker Heights to finally put down roots after living a nomadic life. Quickly after arriving, Pearl becomes close with the Richardson’s four children. Mia, an artist, picks up small jobs at a small restaurant and at the Richardson’s home as a housekeeper. Before long both families are intertwined in ways that slowly create “little fires everywhere” that burns who they are and what they know to the ground.
This book is perfect for book clubs. There is so much to discuss. So much covered in its pages you can’t help but want to talk about it with someone. These characters are flawed and dysfunctional and real. The perfectly planned community of Shaker Heights is a perfect backdrop for these characters who are anything but perfect. I felt like I knew who they truly were as their background stories were slowly exposed. The deeper you get into their lives, the more connections were made until you find yourself suspiciously anticipating the outcome. But even though I had some idea how the story might turn out, I was still so happy with the ending because it was delivered so well.
Rarely do I give a book 5 out of 5 stars. I hold that fifth star close, selective about the few that receive the honor. But I knew as I was nearing the end of Little Fires Everywhere that this book deserved every star I had. When you finish a book this good, you feel bad for the book that has to follow it. This book is the kind that you aren’t going to want to put down once you start. It lives up to the hype. Ng is such a good storyteller. I cannot wait to read what Ng writes next.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Publish Date: September 12, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Where I read: On my iPad in my cozy chair at home
Stephenie’s Goodreads Rating: 5 out of 5 stars