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Little Fires Everywhere

Cover: 'Little Fires Everywhere'

Staff Review: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng


Almost every member of the Richardson family has something going for them. The family, headed up by matriarch Elena, lives in the wealthy and picture-perfect Cleveland suburb of Shaker, where people’s lives are practically planned out for them before they’re born. One day, the family wakes to find their home on fire. A fire that is, without a doubt, intentional, as every family member’s bed has been set ablaze throughout the abode.   

The book then flashes back to a year before and chronicles the arrival of Pearl Warren and her vagabond artist mother, Mia, who rents a house owned by the Richardsons. Mia forms a strong bond with the youngest Richardson child, Izzy, the black sheep of the family who has little in common with her relatives. Introvert Pearl, meanwhile, has her world opened up by the eldest Richardson children: social butterfly Lexie, athletic hunk Trip and the quiet and reserved Moody. When Mia tries to help a co-worker get back the baby she gave up for adoption, it sets Elena on a mission to dig into Mia’s past and upend the life she has built in Shaker.

Seemingly perfect suburban families rife with dysfunction and deep-rooted secrets have become a common subject of contemporary fiction novels. Yet in “Little Fires Everywhere,” the concept seems fresh. Author Celeste Ng takes the time to paint a vivid portrait of each of the characters, including their mindset and their motivations. Each of the individual characters’ stories then converge intelligently in the second half of the book, making for a deliciously enticing piece of contemporary literature.

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, contemporary fiction

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