Review It

Have you read Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere? Tell us what you thought.

  • Susan McGrath
    commented 2018-04-14 14:48:36 -0600
    I received an advance reading copy of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng from the publisher (Penguin Random House) in exchange for an honest review.

    Little Fires Everywhere is a story about family. The family you are born into, the family you pull around you from the people you meet in your life, the family you run away from. This is a story about secrets. Secrets we keep for ourselves, secrets we keep for others.

    This story follows one spark that ignites a series of small fires in the lives of people near the event. Bebe, a Chinese American woman with minimal English and fewer resources leaves her baby at a fire station. A childless couple takes in the baby, and begins the long process of formally adopting the child.

    Mia is a single mother and artist who works with Bebe. She is also the tenant and part-time housekeeper for the Richardson family. In turn, the Richardson parents are close to the couple looking to adopt the abandoned baby. When Mia realizes the baby being adopted is the same baby that Bebe left behind, Bebe changes her mind. She wants her daughter back.

    Bebe’s quest to regain her daughter shifts the relationships between the Richardson parents, their four teenage children, Mia, and her own teenage daughter.

    The plot of the story focuses on Mrs. Richardson and her quest to dig up anything she can that will help her friends gain custody of the baby they have grown to love. While that quest moves the story forward, it is far from the only force in the book. Each of the characters has a secret (or four). Each of the characters encounters the secrets of others. Each of the characters is changed forever, even though they don’t interact directly with the baby in question.

    Celeste Ng has drawn a cast of well-rounded characters in this story. Each of them appears to be one thing on the surface (in some cases, appearing to be a stock, stereotypical character), but a hundred other things beneath the surface. Celeste gives us the history that has made them who they are in a series of flashbacks. These flashbacks are fully fleshed stories in their own right, that bring the characters into clear focus and reveal the secrets that give them depth.

    The setting of this story really serves as another character. Shaker Heights, Ohio is a real place. A city that was carefully designed to be the ideal place to live. Like the characters, this city is one thing on the surface, with under-layers that are revealed to us as the story progresses.

    Overall, this story was a very engaging read. I left Shaker Heights feeling like I knew these characters. I found myself wondering what happened after the story, as the story ends with things a bit unsettled. The characters stories are not completed, instead they are scattered like ash on the wind.
  • Susan McGrath
    followed this page 2018-04-14 14:48:33 -0600