Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)

Little Fires Everywhere is a novel by Celeste Ng.
Finished on: 29.5.2019

Content Note: abortion, (critical treatment of) racism

Elena Richardson rents a house to Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl. Mia is an artist and she and Pearl have always moved around a lot. The Richardsons – mother, father, four children around Pearl’s age – live the compelte opposite life and Pearl is fascinated with them. Both Mia and Pearl quickly become more than just tenants. All of their relationships are put to the test, though, when friends of the Richardsons want to adopt an Chinese-American baby and Mia tries to help the biological mother keep it.

Little Fires Everywhere is wonderfully observed, realistic and well-written novel that maybe didn’t touch me quite as much as Everything I Never Told You, but I still loved it a whole lot.

The book cover showing a little paper house on fire.

Ng packs a lot into her story. This one is all about motherhood – from the different ways of being a mother and the question of what makes a mother a mother to abortions. But she ties that in with racial and class politics as well, showing how those issues are intertwined. It feels like she pretty much says it all, and most of what she says is really smart.

But even more than the political side of the book, I loved the deep dives into the characters who become so vibrantly alive in Ng’s writing, you can relate to all of them. And another favorite detail of mine were the descriptions of Mia’s photos that were beautifully evocative.

There were a couple of things that I saw coming too long off. I mean, the book is not built on surprising you, so it’s not a big problem that some things were a little predictable, but it did feel like things were a little too obvious that way.

But that’s pretty much everything I can criticize about the novel, and that is not much of a criticism at all. I can’t wait to read what Ng writes next.

Summarizing: really great.

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