Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng

Genre: Fiction/Drama
Synopsis: Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.  In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – 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 teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

Review: Interesting book. The characters were pretty one dimensional, or at least they didn't have room to grow in the space of the book, so I can't say I got particularly attached to any of them. Which is a shame, for a character driven book. I've read quite a few reviews, which are larged mixed, and I have to say I disagree with a lot of reviewers saying that Mia was the good guy and repressed suburban people were the bad guys, and that the book didn't give you a choice in feeling that way. I think that was an inevitable perspective resulting from the clash of the two types of people; chaos will always be a whirlwind in something peaceful and organized, and in my experience we will always be curious about or drawn to something that is different and chaotic, particulaly if our own lives are very protected or secure. It's fascination. It's the embodiment of the idea that you can't know true happiness without sadness, and that if you live a life that's quiet and safe and secure and laid out before you and handed to you on a silver platter, you can never fully understand the richness and depth of positive emotions experienced by someone who has had to work harder and experience hardships to get to where they are.

But while the suburbs didnt feel to me like anything to strive for (I mean, I'll happily take the big house and wealth, but I'm probably always going to be a controversial person without a life plan), I also thought Mia was an extremely questionable person who did seriously questionable things. I think she held up a mirror to the surburban Richardsons, and the kids particularly were fascinated by the contrast. Bebe's story also held up a mirror, that divided the family as they considered what was right and what they felt they would do in her situation. So, I wouldn't say that Mia is a good person, I would say her otherness raised introspection. But beyond that, as a very logical childfree person myself, I think Mia was a bit of a shit, and raising Pearl the way she did was inappropriate. Then again I also think if you abandon your baby you shouldn't get a second chance, and that the people most well equipped to raise a child should be the ones doing so, so Mia should never have kept Pearl at all. But what do I know. I liked the book though because of the interesting questions it raised. It made me think about them before I reached my conclusions, and I liked that.

Rating: 3/5

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