Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 4 Stars

“The firemen said there were little fires everywhere…Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an accident.”

Little Fires Everywhere

I love this book. And no, it wasn’t suspense. But I think it was possibly my other favorite genre which I’ll just go ahead and call nostalgic fiction. Or maybe it’s not nostalgia, but something else. A story where something unique lingers just beneath the surface.

I can name the books...The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Secret History by Donna Tartt and of course, Celeste Ng’s first book, Everything I Never Told You. Officially its contemporary fiction, but unofficially I don’t know what it is, but there is just something about these types of books that I am so drawn to.

The stories are haunting, the characters just a little odd, sometimes there is tragedy. But believable enough that they could be real life legends that you or I know.

You know what I’m talking about, right? To me, they are the best kinds of books!

From the Publisher:

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.

My Review:

The Richardsons and the Warrens are very different families. They are the haves and the have nots. Many times in life, the two groups avoid contact and peacefully coexist beside each other. Sharing coffee shops, libraries and schools, but never really understanding the other group.

In Little Fires Everywhere, we get to see firsthand what can happen when two very different types of families form a sort of single family unit, at least for a time.

The Richardsons live in a big house with four children and they are just perfect. They have good jobs, popular children and not a real worry in the world. Mia and Pearl Warren are nomads who move from one community to another, never staying longer than it takes Mia, an artist, to create her next photography exhibit. They don’t own real furniture and just make do, never taking more in their moves than they can fit in their little Volkswagon Rabbit.

The relationship starts with the Warrens renting a walk-up duplex from the Richardsons and continues with the kids, when Pearl and Moody, the third of the Richardson family form a bond off friendship. Mia goes to work for the Warrens and they form some sort of strange family. Sides are chosen, loyalties form, and when these things happen, don’t they ultimately lead to betrayals?

Celeste Ng is a talented storyteller. I loved Little Fires Everywhere just as I loved her debut, Everything I Never Told You. Her books aren’t just stories. The characters have so many complexities lingering under the surface that make them just like real living and breathing people. Her stories are sad and tragic and thoughtful and real.

If anything I’ve written here today intrigues you, give her books a try. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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