Happy Friday! Hope everyone is enjoying themselves, and had a lovely Valentine’s/Fat Tuesday/Ash Wednesday/other random holiday this week. Last week I mentioned that I was behind on my Goodreads challenge – I’m proud to report that I’m all caught up and back on track. For now, at least. I’m at 11 books read so far this month, and let me tell you, I’ve had some really good ones. So far, my reading year is light years ahead of last year and the year before. And it’s interesting, because I’m reading things that are outside my comfort zone and loving them. This week’s review, Little Fires Everywhere started off that way – not something I was terribly interested in, but I picked it up because it had a great rating (4.18) and I’d seen a million bloggers talking about it.
Those of you who love a good family saga will adore Little Fires Everywhere. If books like Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, Janet Fitch’s White Oleander, or Imbolo Mbue’s Behold The Dreamers aren’t your thing, you may want to give this one a pass. As it turns out, I really like these kinds of stories – I just hadn’t entirely realized it until reading (and then reviewing) Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere.
Little Fires Everywhere introduces us to several families: the Warrens, the Richardsons, the McCulloughs, each of them different and yet, strangely, similar. Ng explores so many ideas of family and the threads that tie us together that it’d take me days to explain them all. One thing I can tell you, though, is that reading Little Fires Everywhere really makes you appreciate the fact that no one’s family is perfect – far from it, in fact. Sure, we might have different levels of dysfunction, but all of us have messed up families. The trouble comes not from the messed up bits themselves, but from ignoring them, from pretending everything’s fine in order to appear “normal.” How much better we’d be if we embraced the messy parts – that’s what’s at the heart of Little Fires Everywhere.
It’s a really clever title, truthfully. There are both literal and figurative fires throughout the entire story, sure. But then, the book itself kind of reads like a bunch of little fires everywhere…it starts with one, then the flames die down. Soon enough, there’s another fire. Flames die down, then again, another fire. And so on and so forth, until the last flame is extinguished and everyone is left wondering if there’s something wrong with them for breathing a great huge sigh of relief.
Hardcover: 352 pages Published: September 2017 by Penguin Source: Library via Overdrive
Little Fires Everywhere on Goodreads
The brilliant new novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller, Everything I Never Told You.
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 – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. 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.
When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.
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.