Saturday, March 28, 2020

Quick Pick book review: Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

Quick Pick book review: Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
  • Opening linesEveryone 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.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I started watching the series on Hulu and wanted to read the book as well. 
  • And what's this book about?
  • From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

    In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors 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 teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

    When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

    Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood—and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys a dramatic novel about families and mothers.
  • Favorite paragraph: Mrs. Richardson had, her entire existence, lived an orderly and regimented life. She weighed herself once per week, and although her weight did not fluctuate more than the three pounds her doctor assured her was normal, she took pains to maintain herself. Every morning she measured exactly one half cup of Cheerios, the serving size indicated on the box, using the flowered plastic measuring cup she'd gotten from Higbee's as a new bride. Each evening, at dinner, she allowed herself one glass of wine—red, which the news said was most beneficial for your heart—a faint scratch in the wineglass marking the right level to pour. Three times weekly she took an aerobics class, checking her watch throughout to be sure her heart rate had exceeded one hundred and twenty beats per minute. She had been brought up to follow rules, to believe that the proper functioning of the world depended upon her compliance, and follow them—and believe she did. She had had a plan, from girlhood on, and had followed it scrupulously: high school, college, boyfriend, marriage, job, mortgage, children.
  • Something to know: The TV show is already a bit different from the book. However, I liked both of them.
  • What I would have changed: Nothing although I wanted to know more about the characters' lives at the end than the author gives us.
  • Overall rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon.

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