Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

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Little Fires Everywhere
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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The runaway New York Times bestseller!

Named a Best Book of the Year by: 
People, The Washington Post, Bustle, Esquire, Southern Living, The Daily Beast, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Audible, Goodreads, Library Reads, 
Book of the Month, Paste, Kirkus Reviews, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and many more!
"I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting." –Jodi Picoult

“To say I love this book is an understatement. It’s a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears.” - Reese Witherspoon

“I am loving Little Fires Everywhere. Maybe my favorite novel I've read this year.”—John Green

"Witty, wise, and tender. It's a marvel." – Paula Hawkins

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.

Perfect for book clubs! Visit for discussion guides and more.

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Product Details
Penguin Publishing Group
Penguin Publishing Group
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6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)
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About the Author

About the Author

CELESTE NG grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. She attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is the recipient of the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and son.
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Read an Excerpt

Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

Copyright © 2017 Celeste Ng


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. All spring the gossip had been about little Mirabelle McCullough—or, depending which side you were on, May Ling Chow—and now, at last, there was something new and sensational to discuss. A little after noon on that Saturday in May, the shoppers pushing their grocery carts in Heinen’s heard the fire engines wail to life and careen away, toward the duck pond. By a quarter after twelve there were four of them parked in a haphazard red line along Parkland Drive, where all six bedrooms of the Richardson house were ablaze, and everyone within a half mile could see the smoke rising over the trees like a dense black thundercloud. Later people would say that the signs had been there all along: that Izzy was a little lunatic, that there had always been something off about the Richardson family, that as soon as they heard the sirens that morning they knew something terrible had happened. By then, of course, Izzy would be long gone, leaving no one to defend her, and people could—and did—say whatever they liked. At the moment the fire trucks arrived, though, and for quite a while afterward, no one knew what was happening. Neighbors clustered as close to the makeshift barrier—a police cruiser, parked crosswise a few hundred yards away—as they could and watched the firefighters unreel their hoses with the grim faces of men who recognized a hopeless cause. Across the street, the geese at the pond ducked their heads underwater for weeds, wholly unruffled by the commotion.

Mrs. Richardson stood on the tree lawn, clutching the neck of her pale blue robe closed. Although it was already afternoon, she had still been asleep when the smoke detectors had sounded. She had gone to bed late, and had slept in on purpose, telling herself she deserved it after a rather difficult day. The night before, she had watched from an upstairs window as a car had finally pulled up in front of the house. The driveway was long and circular, a deep horseshoe arc bending from the curb to the front door and back—so the street was a good hundred feet away, too far for her to see clearly, and even in May, at eight o’clock it was almost dark, besides. But she had recognized the small tan Volkswagen of her tenant, Mia, its headlights shining. The passenger door opened and a slender figure emerged, leaving the door ajar: Mia’s teenage daughter, Pearl. The dome light lit the inside of the car like a shadow box, but the car was packed with bags nearly to the ceiling and Mrs. Richardson could only just make out the faint silhouette of Mia’s head, the messy topknot perched at the crown of her head. Pearl bent over the mailbox, and Mrs. Richardson imagined the faint squeak as the mailbox door opened, then shut. Then Pearl hopped back into the car and closed the door. The brake lights flared red, then winked out, and the car puttered off into the growing night. With a sense of relief, Mrs. Richardson had gone down to the mailbox and found a set of keys on a plain ring, with no note. She had planned to go over in the morning and check the rental house on Winslow Road, even though she already knew that they would be gone.

It was because of this that she had allowed herself to sleep in, and now

it was half past twelve and she was standing on the tree lawn in her robe and a pair of her son Trip’s tennis shoes, watching their house burn to the ground. When she had awoken to the shrill scream of the smoke detector, she ran from room to room looking for him, for Lexie, for Moody. It struck her that she had not looked for Izzy, as if she had known already that Izzy was to blame. Every bedroom was empty except for the smell of gasoline and a small crackling fire set directly in the middle of each bed, as if a demented Girl Scout had been camping there. By the time she checked the living room, the family room, the rec room, and the kitchen, the smoke had begun to spread, and she ran outside at last to hear the sirens, alerted by their home security system, already approaching. Out in the driveway, she saw that Trip’s Jeep was gone, as was Lexie’s Explorer, and Moody’s bike, and, of course, her husband’s sedan. He usually went into the office to play catch-up on Saturday mornings. Someone would have to call him at work. She remembered then that Lexie, thank god, had stayed over at Serena Wong’s house last night. She wondered where Izzy had gotten to. She wondered where her sons were, and how she would find them to tell them what had happened.

By the time the fire was put out the house had not, despite Mrs. Richardson’s fears, quite burned to the ground. The windows were all gone but the brick shell of the house remained, damp and blackened and steaming, and most of the roof, the dark slate shingles gleaming like fish scales from their recent soaking. The Richardsons would not be allowed inside for another few days, until the fire department’s engineers had tested each of the beams still standing, but even from the tree lawn—the closest the yellow caution tape would allow them to come—they could see there was little inside to be saved.

“Jesus Christ,” Lexie said. She was perched on the roof of her car, which was now parked across the street, on the grass bordering the duck pond. She and Serena had still been asleep, curled up back-to-back in Serena’s queen size, when Dr. Wong shook her shoulder just after one, whispering, “Lexie. Lexie, honey. Wake up. Your mom just called.” They had stayed up past two a.m., talking—as they had been all spring—about little Mirabelle McCullough, arguing about whether the judge had decided right or wrong, about whether her new parents should’ve gotten custody or if she should’ve been given back to her own mother. “Her name isn’t even really Mirabelle McCullough, for god’s sake,” Serena had said at last, and they’d lapsed into sullen, troubled silence until they both fell asleep.

Now Lexie watched the smoke billow from her bedroom window, the front one that looked over the lawn, and thought of everything inside that was gone. Every T-shirt in her dresser, every pair of jeans in her closet. All the notes Serena had written her since the sixth grade, still folded in paper footballs, which she’d kept in a shoebox under her bed; the bed itself, the very sheets and comforter charred to a crisp. The rose corsage her boyfriend, Brian, had given her at homecoming, hung to dry on her vanity, the petals darkened from ruby to dried-blood red. Now it was nothing but ashes. In the change of clothes she had brought to Serena’s, Lexie realized suddenly, she was better off than the rest of her family: in the backseat she had a duffel bag, a pair of jeans, a toothbrush. Pajamas. She glanced at her brothers, at her mother, still in her bathrobe on their tree lawn, and thought, They have literally nothing but the clothes on their backs. Literally was one of Lexie’s favorite words, which she deployed even when the situation was anything but literal. In this case, for once, it was more or less true.

Trip, from his spot beside her, absentmindedly ran one hand through

his hair. The sun was high overhead now and the sweat made his curls stand up rather rakishly. He had been playing basketball at the community center when he heard fire trucks wailing, but had thought nothing of it. (This morning he had been particularly preoccupied, but in truth he likely would not have noticed anyway.) Then, at one, when everyone got hungry and decided to call it a game, he had driven home. True to form, even with the windows down he had not noticed the huge cloud of smoke wafting toward him, and he only began to realize something was wrong when he found his street blocked off by a police car. After ten minutes of explaining, he had finally been allowed to park his Jeep across from the house, where Lexie and Moody were already waiting. The three of them sat on the car’s roof in order, as they had in all the family portraits that had once hung in the stairwell and were now reduced to ash. Lexie, Trip, Moody: senior, junior, sophomore. Beside them they felt the hole that Izzy, the freshman, the black sheep, the wild card, had left behind— though they were still certain, all of them, that this hole would be temporary.

“What was she thinking?” Moody muttered, and Lexie said, “Even she knows she’s gone too far this time, that’s why she ran off. When she comes back, Mom is going to murder her.”

“Where are we going to stay?” Trip asked. A moment of silence unreeled as they contemplated their situation.

“We’ll get a hotel room or something,” said Lexie finally. “I think that’s what Josh Trammell’s family did.” Everyone knew this story: how a few years ago Josh Trammell, a sophomore, had fallen asleep with a candle lit and burned his parents’ house down. The long-standing rumor at the high school was that it wasn’t a candle, it was a joint, but the house had been so thoroughly gutted there was no way to tell, and Josh had stuck to his candle story. Everyone still thought of him as that dumbass jock who burned the house down, even though that had been ages ago, and Josh had recently graduated from Ohio State with honors. Now, of course, Josh Trammell’s fire would no longer be the most famous fire in Shaker Heights.

“One hotel room? For all of us?”

“Whatever. Two rooms. Or we’ll stay at the Embassy Suites. I don’t know.” Lexie tapped her fingers against her knee. She wanted a cigarette, but after what had just happened—and in full view of her mother and ten firemen—she didn’t dare light one. “Mom and Dad will figure it out. And the insurance will pay for it.” Although she had only a vague sense of how insurance worked, this seemed plausible. In any case, this was a problem for the adults, not for them.

The last of the firemen were emerging from the house, pulling the masks from their faces. Most of the smoke had gone, but a mugginess still hung everywhere, like the air in the bathroom after a long, hot shower. The roof of the car was getting hot, and Trip stretched his legs down the windshield, poking the wipers with the toe of his flip-flop. Then he started to laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Lexie said.

“Just picturing Izzy running around striking matches everywhere.” He snorted. “The nutcase.”

Moody drummed a finger on the roof rack. “Why is everybody so sure she did it?”

“Come on.” Trip jumped down off the car. “It’s Izzy. And we’re all here. Mom’s here. Dad’s on his way. Who’s missing?”

“So Izzy’s not here. She’s the only one who could be  responsible?”

“Responsible?” put in Lexie. “Izzy?”

“Dad was at work,” Trip said. “Lexie was at Serena’s. I was over at

Sussex playing ball. You?”

Moody hesitated. “I biked over to the library.”

“There. You see?” To Trip, the answer was obvious. “The only ones here were Izzy and Mom. And Mom was asleep.”

“Maybe the wiring in the house shorted. Or maybe someone left the stove on.”

“The firemen said there were little fires everywhere,” Lexie said. “Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an  accident.”

“We all know she’s always been mental.” Trip leaned back against the car door.

“You’re all always picking on her,” Moody said. “Maybe that’s why she acts mental.”

Across the street, the fire trucks began to reel in their hoses. The three remaining Richardson children watched the firemen set down their axes and peel away their smoky yellow coats.

“Someone should go over and stay with Mom,” Lexie said, but no one moved.

After a minute, Trip said, “When Mom and Dad find Iz, they are going to lock her up in a psych ward for the rest of her life.”

No one thought about the recent departure of Mia and Pearl from the house on Winslow Road. Mrs. Richardson, watching the fire chief meticulously taking notes on his clipboard, had completely forgotten about her former tenants. She had not yet mentioned it to her husband or her children; Moody had discovered their absence only earlier that morning, and was still unsure what to make of it. Far down Parkland Drive the small blue dot of their father’s BMW began to approach.

“What makes you so sure they’ll find her?” Moody asked.

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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide

1.       Shaker Heights is almost another character in the novel. Do you believe that “the best communities are planned”? Why or why not?

2.      Little Fires Everywhere is set in the late 1990s, and we see the experiences of marginalized characters in the novel, as well as their interactions with those in the larger community. In what ways are attitudes toward race and class the same today? In what ways are they different?

3.       There are many different kinds of mother-daughter relationships in the novel. Which ones did you find most compelling? Do mothers have a unique ability to spark fires, for good and ill, in us?

4.       Which of the Richardson children is most changed by the events of the novel? How do you think this time ultimately changes Lexie’s life? Trip’s? Moody’s?

5.       The debate over the fate of May Ling/Mirabelle is multilayered and heartbreaking. Who do you think should raise her? 

6.       How is motherhood defined throughout the book? How do choice, opportunity, and circumstances impact different characters’ approach to motherhood?

7.       Mia’s journey to becoming an artist is almost a beautiful novella of its own. Mia’s art clearly has the power to change lives. What piece of art has shaped your life in an important way? 

8.       Pearl has led a singular life before arriving in Shaker, but once she meets the Richardsons, she has the chance to become a “normal” teenager. Is that a good thing? 

9.       What ultimately bothers Elena most about Mia? 

10.   The novel begins with a great conflagration, but its conclusion in even more devastating. What do you think happens to Elena after the novel ends? To Mia and Pearl? To Izzy? Do you think Izzy ever returns to Shaker and her family? Why or why not? 

11.   Celeste Ng is noted for her ability to shift between the perspective of different characters in her work. How does that choice shape the reader’s experience of the novel?

12.   Izzy chooses “This Be the Verse” to sum up her life. Is what the poem says accurate, in the context of Izzy’s experience?

13.   What does the title mean to you? What about the book’s dedication? 

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Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

The setting of Celeste Ng's second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, is Shaker Heights, the storied Cleveland suburb where every blade of grass knows its place and every home is a shelter for lives of advantage and entitlement. The home of the Richardsons is one of just these, a stately manse where Elena Richardson, a reporter for the city's smaller newspaper, lives with her lawyer husband and her four children: the dashing athlete Trip, the effortlessly beautiful Lexie, the artistic Moody, and the rebellious Izzy. Life is good for the Richardsons, the wealth of past generations accruing in the ease of the present one. Elena, herself a child of Shaker Heights, takes pride in raising another generation there, her brood beautiful and talented and confident in futures lubricated by ease and plenty and the good fortune bestowed by those who came before.

It is onto this well-ordered stage that Ng's protagonist, Mia Warren, enters. If Shaker Heights stands for the stolid respect for convention, Warren has lived a life of thwarting it, restlessly moving from state to state with her teenage daughter, Pearl, in tow. If the Richardsons bow to the gods of convention and upper- middle-class restraint, Mia worships at the altar of art. A talented photographer, she takes on makeshift jobs, cleaning houses and waiting tables so that her days are free to pursue her photographic ambitions. If the carefully coiffed Elena is a somewhat mediocre reporter stuck at the less-than-best newspaper, Mia is gifted, her mesmerizing and haunting photographs selling at galleries in New York. Seemingly uninterested in either fame or fortune, she sells only a few, prioritizing authenticity of expression over ease of existence.

The lives of the two women collide when Mia rents a house that belongs to the Richardsons. The Winslow property (an oddity in rental-less Shaker Heights) is an inheritance whose rental income Elena doesn't really need. She uses it as a means of padding her altruism -- "helping" the less fortunate and, in the instant case, the picturesquely artistic. Before long, the lives of the Richardson brood are intertwined with those of Mia and Pearl. Following a landlady visit of sorts, during which Elena bestows much condescension on Mia's work in process ("You should really do portraits"), the latter ends up cleaning the Richardson home in exchange for rent. It permits her to keep an eye on Pearl, who, besotted with plenty and regularity (and the elder Richardson son), spends all her afternoons at their house. As the plot progresses, the youngest Richardson child, the rebellious Izzy, becomes equally besotted by Mia's artistry, making her way in the opposite direction to watch Mia wield her photographic craft.

The intertwining of the families, two contrasting models of motherhood equally possible in contemporary America, sets up the conflict that will drive them apart. Motherhood again is the fulcrum on which it turns. At the Chinese restaurant where she works, Mia befriends Bei Bei Chow, a young Chinese immigrant woman. Bei Bei, she learns, is in the grip of maternal tragedy that began when, bereft and nearly starving, she left her daughter at a fire station in Shaker Heights. She had meant to retrieve the child later, but when she tried to do so the baby was gone.

The baby is not gone. Mei Ling is now Mirabelle McCullough, the newly adopted and much adored adopted child of the McCulloughs, wealthy longtime friends of the Richardsons who had everything -- except, of course, a baby. A custody battle ensues, with Mia and Elena staked out on opposing sides and much of Shaker Heights glued to its details. Ng's narrative unfolds the disparate worlds within the apparent harmony of the community, with the needs of the Chinese immigrant who dishes up their takeout painfully colliding with the wants of the couple who lack only a baby. With the exposition comes the unraveling, the unspooling of the lies and subterfuge that shield the cossetted constituents of Shaker Heights. Nobody likes it.

In this, the central action of Little Fires Everywhere, Ng is masterful, exposing with terrifying acuity just how the well- meaning wealthy, afforded so much moral reverence in contemporary America, can be cruel and even evil. In underscoring how equipped she is to handle a Chinese baby, Mrs. McCullough points to the Chinese art on her walls and the fact that the baby "loves rice" and that in fact "it was her first solid food." Consumption is not just a metaphor here; it is the sum total of her understanding of culture and identity and of the fact that she who has everything is entitled to still more, even to a baby to complete the picture of perfection.

Bei Bei Chow's story, framed in Ng's gripping fiction, is close to an actual one that took place in Indiana, a few hours' drive away from Cleveland and Shaker Heights. In that case, a young Chinese immigrant, Bei Bei Shuai, was charged with murdering her newborn baby in March 2011. Shuai, who had fallen in love with a Chinese man who left her when she became pregnant, had tried to kill herself by ingesting rat poison. While Shuai survived, the baby died two days after it was born. Shuai became the first woman to be prosecuted for a suicide attempt, under Indiana's feticide statute, originally enacted to protect women and their children from third parties such as abusive boyfriends and husbands.

The actual Shuai case was just as divisive as the one Ng presents, with the poor immigrant woman being denigrated as a baby killer and an unfit mother. Non-immigrant others, such as Shuai's lawyer, were threatened with baseless disciplinary actions for trying to raise money for her client. The question of who qualifies as a good mother, and the idea that the state or the wealthy and the white must protect immigrant children from the cruelties of their unfit immigrant parents, are woven through Little Fires Everywhere. In the Shaker Heights of the novel, cultural and racial identity is only incidental -- something to be overcome, as Lexie Richardson's black boyfriend and Asian best friend seem to be doing by ascending class. "Mothers like her keep the cycle of poverty going," the same boyfriend reports his father as having said. Belonging with the white and wealthy requires shedding contrary opinions, lining up dutifully with the Richardsons and the McCulloughs.

The magic and mastery of fiction lies in its ability to extract the truths that are otherwise lost in the chaos of life, the details and rationalizations that cover them up, subtracting their sting. Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere does just that, isolating and teasing out the threads of class conformity, racist fear, and the hierarchies and codes that partake subtly of both. Little fires have become a conflagration by the end of the book: the Richardsons' home is burned to a husk; the McCulloughs' baby is missing, as is the Richardsons' own youngest child; Mia and Pearl have left for another town. In real life, devastation is almost routinely the fate of the far less endowed, the Bei Bei Shuais and the Mia Warrens. Fiction, at least, can offer up its own kinds of justice.

Rafia Zakaria is the author of The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan (Beacon 2015), which was named one of Newsweek’s Top 10 nonfiction books of 2015. She is a regular columnist for Dawn Pakistan and writes the "Reading Other Women" Series at The Boston Review. Her work has appeared in Guardian Books, The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The New York Times, Al Jazeera America, Dissent, Guernica, and various other venues.

Reviewer: Rafia Zakaria

The Barnes & Noble Review
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Customer Reviews (85)
Could not put it down. Beautiful story, terriffic character development, each person so very well defined. You feel as if they are real, and that you know and understand them. Have enjoyed both of her books and eagerly await her next.
- Anonymous
December 9, 2017
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is an incredible, very highl ...
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is an incredible, very highly recommended novel about families, rule following, motherhood, and privilege. This novel is not to be missed. It is 1997 in Shaker Heights, Ohio, one of the original planned communities with rules for everything. Elena Richardson, the third generation to live in Shaker Heights, firmly believes in the perfection of her family, community and following rules, both communal and societal, and is proud she and her husband Bill chose to live and raise their family there. The novel opens with Elena in her bathrobe on the front lawn watching their home burn. Izzy Richardson, Elena's youngest, has set "little fires everywhere" to burn down the family home. The night before this Elena watched her renters, Mia and daughter Pearl, return the rental key in the Richardson's mailbox. After the opening, Little Fires Everywhere jumps back in time, to when Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl are moving into the duplex Elena inherited from her parents. Elena prides herself on picking renters she believes deserve her largess in the form of reduced rent and a chance for the chosen renters to live in Shaker Heights. Mia, a single mother, is an artist with a fifteen year old daughter, Pearl. The pair has lived an itinerant lifestyle for years, but now Mia has promised Pearl they will stay in Shaker Heights more than a few months. Soon Pearl becomes friends with the Richardson children, Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy. When Izzy meets Mia, she finally finds a compassionate adult who appreciates and supports her individuality, which stands in stark contrast to the constant correction, control, and belittling her mother heaps upon her. Elena, suspicious of Mia's rule-breaking lifestyle, sets her sights on Mia, and attempts to assert some control over her by basically forcing her into becoming the Richardson's housekeeper in exchange for rent. She is also determined to investigate Mia's background. When friends of Elena are planning to adopt an abandoned Chinese American baby the birth mother wants the baby back and a custody battle ensues. Once Elena realizes that she and Mia are on opposite sides of the controversy, she doubles her efforts to investigate Mia. But, as hard as Elena tries to control everything, life is unpredictable and can't always be controlled by following set rules. Elena's obsession and incomplete information resulted in unforeseen and unexpected consequences. Little Fires Everywhere is an exceptional, impressive novel and sure to capture some awards/acclaim this year. I was riveted to every page and found it impossible to put down once I started it. Little Fires Everywhere explores families, motherhood, class, lies, secrets, privacy, sacrifices, and how always following the rules isn't always the best choice. The quality of the writing is outstanding, sensitive, and complex. Ng captures a distinct sense of location and time in the narrative. Her characters are all unique and extraordinarily well developed as individuals. The different perspectives of her characters emerge and work together to create a multifaceted story. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.
- SheTreadsSoftly
September 13, 2017
Little Fires Everywhere is one of the most riveting and brightly b ...
Little Fires Everywhere is one of the most riveting and brightly burning books that I have read this year. It is a captivating portrayal of family, community, and class in America that explores the sensitive and complex topics of abortion, surrogacy, multi-cultural adoption, views towards immigrants, and race. It is also a story of betrayal, lies, misunderstanding, trust, desires, and longing. At its very heart, it is a brilliant and evocative look at motherhood and what not only makes a “good” and “bad” mother but who even has the right to claim to be called mother—and lose that right. From the first page, I was fully immersed in the story, and that did not let up until the last page; there were two nights I stayed up reading it until way past 3 am just because I could not put it down! Celeste Ng is an unexcelled expert at brilliantly drawn plots and creating characters who are wonderfully fascinating, whether they are flawed or not.  I'm a reader who loves stunning characterizations, the connections an author weaves from one character to another, and the way each character adds to the storyline. Ng is a master at this! She is not afraid to have her characters grapple with hard issues that expose their vulnerability. Nor is she afraid of exposing their flaws: selfishness, jealousy, criticalness, or their very human feelings of fear, cravings to belong, desires, and the poignancy of a mother's unrelenting love for her child that carries this book from start to finish. One thing I thought Ng used to marvelous and bold effect, and which made the connections with her characters even more intimate, was the omniscient style POV she uses to narrate the story. Instead of detracting from the characters (as it often can when used negligibly), it adds dramatic irony, is unique, and gives a highly distinctive voice throughout this novel. In the novel, we are introduced to many characters—major and minor and all make an impact in one way or another. But it is the wealthy Richardson family along with unconventional, gypsy-like, artist Mia Warren and her fifteen-year-old daughter Pearl that are the primary players in this novel. It is in these characters interactions and the full immersion into the other’s lives that causes quietly smoldering embers to begin unfurling into a slow, steady burn until an inferno rages inside both the characters and the storyline. Even the title of the book could not be more apt since when we meet the Richardson family, all but Izzy that is, their house is aflame, and the Shaker Heights gossip mill is running rampant about who set the blazing house fire! It's the hottest gossip of the summer! The Richardson family is affluent and successful, much like the suburban community of Shaker Heights where they live, which is a town built on rules, planning, security, stability, and conformity. They seem to be the perfect (almost) family living in perfect suburbia: Bill, a contented lawyer; Elena, a reporter and the oh, so rule abiding pillar of the community; Lexie, the spoiled princess; Trip, the stereotypical jock; Moody, smart and sensitive; and Izzy, misunderstood and unaccepted. Yet, there are hidden depths to them all, dormant sparks inside them just waiting to be lit. All it will take is one match, one spark. That spark is Mia and Pearl who move to town and rent the Richardson's rental house. Mia is a brilliant artist, a photographer; she is a non-conformist, a free spirit, a wanderer like a bird taking flight whenev
- Anonymous
September 19, 2017
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    “In all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight . . .this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility. – Kirkus Reviews (starred)From the New York ...
    The fully updated classic guide to the mechanics of securities processing—a must for professional investors This ...
    The fully updated classic guide to the mechanics of securities processing—a must for professional investors This third edition of After the Trade Is Made reflects the changes that have taken place in recent years as a result of new products, technological breakthroughs, and ...
    In this book, Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s hit show My Cat from Hell, ...
    In this book, Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s hit show My Cat from Hell, and Kate Benjamin, cat design wizard, show cat guardians everywhere how to use home design tricks to address everyday cat care issues. Does your feline ...
    Behind the headlines on cloning—Dr. Robin Cook blends fact with fiction in one of his ...
    Behind the headlines on cloning—Dr. Robin Cook blends fact with fiction in one of his most terrifying bestsellers...Chromosome 6 is a prophetic thriller that challenges the medical ethics of genetic manipulation and cloning in the jungles of equatorial Africa, where ...
    An exciting new historical mystery series featuring woman-on-the-run Elizabeth Miles--from the beloved national bestselling author ...
    An exciting new historical mystery series featuring woman-on-the-run Elizabeth Miles--from the beloved national bestselling author of the Gaslight Mysteries.Like most women, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles; unlike most, hers have made her a woman on the run. Living on the ...
    Adorable four-color candid doggie mug shots Photographer and animal trainer Barbara O’Brien has spent years photographing ...
    Adorable four-color candid doggie mug shots Photographer and animal trainer Barbara O’Brien has spent years photographing aspiring canine actors, from prancing puppies to stately hounds and tenacious terriers. At first, she discarded the photos if her subject was barking, sniffing, or ...
    At last, USA Today bestselling author Lynn Kurland delivers her newest time travel romance. In ...
    At last, USA Today bestselling author Lynn Kurland delivers her newest time travel romance. In the 1200s, Amanda of Artane has one summer to choose from her suitors—and find love forever.