Little Fires Everywhere. Finished 11-8-17, rating 4.75.5, fiction, 338 pages, pub. 2017
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. from Goodreads
We read this for my book group last night and we all liked it. It also led to great discussion. There are limitless things to talk about and over the course of appetizers, pizza, dessert and wine we touched on a lot of them. The author was in town (Shaker Heights where the story takes place) and a few of the members were able to go and hear her speak and they came away impressed with how intelligent she was.
Shaker Heights is a real place and I love it. If not for Jason being put off by the high taxes I think I could get him to live there 🙂 Ng chose to show the Shaker that she grew up in and I think it’s fair, even though it has changed over the years it does still remain a progressive hotspot with old mansions lining picturesque streets. The Richardson family embodies this perfectly.
Ng is genius at getting into the minds of so many different characters and giving them unique voices. I understood and felt for every one of the characters in the book (save one who I just did not get – Izzy) and even when I didn’t like them I understood them.
The story centers around not only the fight over a baby left at a fire station by a distraught mother but also the mysterious Mia. So many layers to this story and they were all connected by mothers. What makes a good mother? At the end of this book I just wanted to hug Gage and tell him I was doing the best I could. One of the ladies in book club commented that it forced her to do a self-check on her own parenting skills.
I loved this book because it is overflowing with gray area. There are a few areas that I felt were black or white, but the rest was left for you to decide. I admit that this one started slow for me (the only one in my group to feel this way), but by the hundred page mark I was hooked! I loved Mia the most even though she was probably the one with the most issues.
Do yourself a favor and check it out. Especially if you’re in a book club.