Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng kept popping up in my suggested reading list, and I’m SO glad that I finally selected it! What constitutes a good life? What defines a loving mother and a strong family? These questions are grappled with throughout the book.
The story begins as the Richardson family home is burned to the foundation, and then backs up in order to clarify the events/characters leading up to this point.
Events began months earlier, when artist Mia and her daughter Pearl moved into the Richardson’s extra property, an apartment in Shaker Heights. Shaker is an idyllic community where everyone shares common goals: success, kindness and the appearance of perfection. Mia and Pearl have decided to finally grow some roots; Shaker Heights seems a good place to do this.
Moody, one of the Richardson boys, is the first to form a relationship with the newcomers. He develops a close friendship with Pearl. Eventually, Pearl becomes a fixture in the Richardson home, forming relationships with Moody’s sister, Lexie, and with his handsome brother, Trip. Even Izzy, the youngest of the Richardsons and the family outcast, finds a kindred spirit in Mia.
The main problem starts when Mia gets involved in an adoption case between one of her coworkers, and Elena Richardson’s closest friend. This prompts Elena to begin her own investigation of Mia, uncovering surprising parts of her past with Pearl. Through this legal battle, relationships become more complex and entangled until eventually erupting.
Ng does an amazing job of building this conflict and developing her characters. I felt myself pulled in multiple directions; identifying with some while wishing to be more like others. Throughout it all is the undercurrent of Mia’s art, which showcases the need to observe things differently. This is certainly true in art, but also true in life.