I was very excited to be reading Little Fires Everywhere after absolutely falling in love with Ng’s first novel: Everything I Never Told You. Happily, Little Fires is also a great read. I didn’t love it quite as much as Everything (though this would have been difficult – I loved the first one so, so much).
Little Fires Everywhere is about the meeting of two very different families in a nice suburban, American town. There are the Richardsons. A family who play by all the rules of society and are rewarded for it. Then there are the Warrens, a mother and daughter who defy convention.
Mia Warren is an artist who moves her and her daughter, Pearl, to a new town every six months or so. They take what they can fit in their car and leave the rest.
Pearl befriends the Richardson children. She is drawn to their nice, stable, family life. Whereas the misfit Richardson daughter, Izzy, is drawn to artist Mia and her unconventional approach.
There’s a fairly huge cast of characters and, brilliantly, they are all fleshed out and completely believable. I always come away from a Celeste Ng novel feeling all the feelings. I feel like I was 100% with the emotions of the characters and like I completely understand their motivation and the reasons for their decisions. I love this about her books.
I also love that Little Fires Everywhere isn’t solely focussed on the teenage characters. As events progress we learn a lot about the history of both mothers, and understand how this influences decisions they make. We learn about the circumstances of Pearl’s birth, and the kind actions of a fairly grumpy neighbour nearly broke me! That’s probably due to the very clear memories I have of just how difficult those early baby days were.
The first night back in the rented room, Pearl had cried and cried until Mia herself had begun to cry… Then there was a soft knock at the door, and stern Mrs. Delaney appeared and held out her arms. “Give her here,” she said, with such authority that Mia handed the soft bundle over without thinking. “Now you lie down and get some rest,” Mrs. Delaney said, shutting the door behind her, and in the abrupt silence Mia flopped down on the bed and fell instantly asleep.
God bless stern Mrs. Delaney!
I haven’t really mentioned the plot at all, and I won’t give away any spoilers, but it’s probably important to note that the book starts with the Richardson house burning to the ground, and their daughter Izzy missing and the chief suspect.
There’s a situation with an abandoned baby which forms the main part of the plot and both families are intricately linked with the scandal.
Little Fires Everywhere is a great book. 🙂
P.s. I was provided with a free copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks NetGalley!