Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!
Over the past few years, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was at the top of my TBR list, and appeared on over five different monthly TBR’s in the past two years! In June, I was in the mood to pick up a character-driven novel, and was immediately drawn to finally read Little Fires Everywhere! To say that I had high expectations for this book would be an understatement, and unfortunately, it did not live up to them in my opinion.
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.
I will describe this book in one word: underwhelming.
Like I stated above, I had SO many high expectations for this book. Thinking back, maybe that was unfair, but when you hear about a book that is loved by millions of people internationally, you believe that it will be your next new favourite book. In my case, that did not happen. Now, I am not saying that this was not a good or enjoyable book. I quite enjoyed it, but I have definitely read better books before (both literary fiction and books from other genres).
I want to get all of the negative things I have to write about this book out of the way, so if you are only in the mood to read positive things (which I understand might be possible since we are in such depressing times), then skip to the next paragraph. Upon reading the Goodreads synopsis, you would think that this book centres around Mrs. Richardson digging into Mia Warren’s troubled past. However, I would argue that that is not the first main plot of the story. In fact, everything that is shared in the synopsis does not begin to unfold until 150 pages into the story. One of the main things that I did not like about this book was the fact that there were too many different plot lines and stories to follow, especially when this is supposed to be a character driven novel. I enjoyed all of the plot lines once they were fully introduced, but I thought that it took way too long to get to all of them. I also didn’t really love the writing in this novel. A lot of reviewers have cited the writing as something they have adored about this book, but I did not think that it was anything special. Throughout the novel, I thought that Celeste Ng had some very rambly sections, as well as some sections that I would have liked more information on. Had she balanced those out evenly, I think I would have enjoyed the story a lot more.
However, there were a handful of things about this book that I really enjoyed. Mainly, I loved many of the characters in this novel. In my opinion, this book is a master class on character development. I have NEVER read a book with such clear characters that flawlessly developed when the story concluded. Interestingly enough, my favourite character was Izzie, the character in this novel that I believe goes through the least amount of development. I would have loved to have read more about her thoughts and opinions on everything going on, and would love to read a short story in her perspective in the future,
Truthfully, I think that most readers will, in fact, enjoy this book (probably a lot more than I did). One of the key factors influencing my dissapointment of this book may be my age and lack of experience in the adult world. I would be interested in going back to this book in about 10-years, and seeing if I would enjoy it more then. If I am still blogging then, I will read and review it again if I remember! Overall, I gave this book 2.5/5 stars.
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this book, so if you have read it, let me know in the comments and we can discuss it!
Good Night Book Owls!