Little Fires Everywhere – A book review

Little Fires Everywhere Feature

With the hype created by the new show, I had to read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG, even though practically everyone around me has read and reviewed it. And I was low-key expecting me another over-hyped chick flick and boy, was I wrong! Read my review of Little Fires Everywhere to know more.

Have you read Little Fires Everywhere? Are you watching its Hulu's adaptation? Do you usually like morally dubious characters? Read on for my review. Click To Tweet

About the book

Book Name: Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Characters: Mia and Pearl Warren, Elena, Izzy, Moody, Lexie and Trip Richardson, Bebe, Linda and Mark McCullough

Setting: Shaker Heights, OhioThe USA

The plot

Shaker heights is one of those perfect small towns, that is tight knit and followed every rule to the T. The residents of this meticulously planned community give great importance to the appearance and uniformity – they all paint their doors in particular colors, the lawns are perfectly manicured, the garbage cans are hidden behind the house etc. 

The Richardson family is a model family to this Utopia. Mr Richardson, a well to do lawyer, Mrs Elena Richardson, a reporter who writes ‘wholesome’ articles and their four children (two boys and two girls) paint a pretty picture. 

Their perfect lives go for a toss when a non conformist family – a single mother and her shy daughter enter their neighbourhood. Mrs Richardson takes in Mia Warren (an artist) and her daughter Pearl into her rented apartment to help them out – a gesture of benevolence. In a few months, the members of both the families get entwined with each other due to various reasons. 

Meanwhile, an old family friend of the Richardsons adopts a Chinese-American baby and a battle custody ensues. How do the Warrens and Richardsons get caught in the custody web? Do they come out of it as one single piece forms the rest of the story in Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

My initial thoughts

First of, WOW. I loved the book so much that I am writing the review of Little Fires Everywhere as soon as I finished reading it. This has not happened in a long time. Nor have I written such a big plot summary, in terms of word count in a while. So there is my verdict – WOW. Now let us dig in deeper shall we?

On the surface, Little Fires Everywhere is filled with stereotypes.  

A control freak suburban mom, a distant workaholic dad, non conformist artist, a popular jock, spoilt rich popular girl, moody and outcast teen, and a nerd – there is one of every single fictional cliche. But what I loved is how Ng has spun these cliched characters into deep, multi layered characters. 

A friend of mine asked whom I thought the baby should end up with, when I was reading the book. I didn’t have an answer then, or now, because that is how the world is. There is no complete black or white. Every character is flawed in Little Fires Everywhere and I loved them all the same. 

For my personally, the most interesting character was Mrs Richardson, or Elena. She is one of the most complex characters I have read in a long time now. She made me question my choices and I am sure everyone feels related to her at some point. 

If I had to nitpick, I am not sure if I like being told incessantly to root for a single character, Mia. Yes, she is ‘the empathetic and enlightened’ one. And I think she got off too easily when compared to her counterpart, given her history. 

Things that worked for me

  • Little Fires Everywhere deals with many intense themes like motherhood, identity, conformism and adoption.
  • I liked the plot and the moral questioning that it posed.
  • Deep, multi layered characters that stay with you long after you have finished reading are something to look forward to.

Things that didn’t work for me

  • I felt the scales tipped too easily when it came to Mia.

Bottom-line

Little Fires Everywhere is an exquisitely written family drama with a bit of suspense. Read the book before you watch the series. 

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Let us chat

Have you read Little Fires Everywhere? Are you watching its Hulu’s adaptation? Do you usually like morally dubious characters? Who do you think the baby should have ended with? Let us talk.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Great review, Gayathri! I’m watching the TV series now, so I was reading your post very tentatively in case of spoilers, but you didn’t give anything away 🙂 That’s a good point about the characters being essentially stereotypes but actually being very layered. I hadn’t even thought about it because they’re so well drawn, but you’re right, they are stereotypes. I guess Ng did a really good job of drawing the characters to make them believable, and that comes across in the TV show too.

  2. Excellent review. 🙂 I have heard a lot about both the book and the series, but haven’t read or seen any (I’m poor, lol). Glad to know the characters are multi-layered. That is a no 1 priority for me to get attracted to a book.

  3. I’ve read this one and loved it. Like you said, I have no clear answers as to whom the baby should go with. My instinct was the real mom because, like most people, I tend to root for the underdog but then the adoptive parents are emotionally involved with the child and perhaps it is also true that the child would have a better chance in life with them. So sigh no clear answers there. Celeste Ng was such a wonderful discovery. Have you read Everything I Never told You by the same author? That’s a fab read too.
    <a href=”https://beataboutthebook.wordpress.com/2019/05/15/everything-i-never-told-you-bookreview/”>Obsessivemom

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