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  • Writer's pictureSelena | Beauty's Library

Little Fires Everywhere Review

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood--and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Rating: 4/5

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.


So I was initially on the fence about whether or not I wanted to read this book when I first came across it on BOTM a few months back. I didn’t pick it that month but I kept my eye on it. I hadn’t heard much about it. Then it seemed to be everywhere! And then, I saw the trailer for the Hulu mini-series. I was convinced then. I tried to get a BOTM copy of it, but at that point, it was sold out. It was sold out for months! So I just went and got a copy from my local Barnes and Noble. Of course, the following month it was restocked on BOTM…

Anyways! Back to this book! I knew I wanted to pick this book up after seeing the trailer for the mini-series, I managed to not watch the show. So I didn’t know anything that happened beyond what I saw in the trailer and the summary of the book.

There’s so much packed within this book. It tackles so many many topics that are often widely criticized and talked about. Such as what makes a good mother, abortion, the right way to raise your child, what makes you a parent, ethics, and so much more. I don’t read these types of books that often, and this one is definitely worth reading. It’s so well written. It’s also written in a unique format that I don’t tend to see often.

Little Fires Everywhere starts at the end. It shows you a house that was burnt down by little fires everywhere and it then backs up to explain all the events that led up to it. You don’t often read books that start this way. It usually spoils it. This one though, it worked. I think it helped me stay engaged especially when things slowed down. I wanted to know what happened and who started the fires.

Little Fires Everywhere starts at the end. It shows you a house that was burnt down by little fires everywhere and it then backs up to explain all the events that led up to it.

Besides this choice, Ng also decides to write in a manner where there’s really no main character. At least I didn’t think so. Only because we get to see so many characters and we learn all their stories and their choices from their point of view. That being said, there are so many moving parts within this book. You need to stay engaged or else you might miss something crucial that affects later events and actions in the book. It reminded me a bit of Thunderhead in this manner of so many moving parts and different points of view. Though that one I argue had main characters.

After finally starting the book, one thing I found interesting is one of the ladies, Mia, her race was never identified in the book and they don’t describe her looks beyond what she wears and the color of her hair. The same goes for her daughter, Pearl. In the show, these two ladies are depicted as being black. So I only saw them as such. I even looked it up and discovered the author intended Mia and Pearl to be white, but never actually specified their race. This leaves me curious, if I had read this book before the TV adaption came out, would I still have seen them as black? I’d like to think I would have based on the community of the neighborhood. It’s not a stretch to think of them as being black.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic read! Plus this was my book club pick for September. We’ll be discussing this later this week and I can’t wait! I think it’ll be a fun discussion. If you enjoy contemporary books that touch on social issues, I think you’ll enjoy this one!


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