Each month when I receive the Mumsnet book of the month, I tell myself that this months couldn’t possibly top the last. Within moments of starting this months book, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, I knew that not only was it my favourite so far, but one of my favourite books to date.
Little Fires Everywhere is a story of love, lies, morality and motherhood and takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, leaving you reeling at the outcome.
Based in Shaker Heights, Ohio, the story is set in a picture perfect neighbour hood where everybody knows everyone, or so they thought. The story opens with the news of a fire, started deliberately, and the suspected culprit nowhere to be found, and from that initial chapter I was hooked.
The novel centres around two families, poles apart in both class and structure, whose paths have crossed and whose stories entwined. When the all-American Richardson family, parents to four teenagers, let a property to Mia Warren and her daughter, Pearl, Elena Richardson prides herself on such a charitable gesture, intrigued by the mysterious family and their hand to mouth lifestyle.
As Elena’s own teenagers grow close to Mia and Pearl, drawn in by Mia’s carefree attitude and her refusal to play by the rules, we realise that Elena’s perfect family unit is under threat, and not quite as perfect as she would have us believe.
“One had followed the rules, and one had not. But the problem with rules… was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time they were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure what side of the line you stood on.”
The plot is full of twists and turns, which support and expand on the theme of morality, and divides opinion amongst, not only the characters, but us as readers. Ng beautifully entwines each subplot in a way that leaves you wondering where one ends and the other begins, as she tackles the moral quandaries of transracial adoption, abortion, and Mia’s own dark secret which leaves Elena reeling.
Little Fires Everywhere is less about fires and more about the burning question of morality. It leaves you questioning everything you thought you believed in, opens your mind to the idea that sometimes love just isn’t enough, and makes you look at the world a little differently going forward.
“SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO SCORCH EVERYTHING TO THE GROUND, AND START OVER. AFTER THE BURNING THE SOIL IS RICHER, AND NEW THINGS CAN GROW. PEOPLE ARE LIKE THAT, TOO. THEY START OVER. THEY FIND A WAY.”
The characters are real and relatable, both frustrating and likeable, and as I turned the last page, my heart pounding in my chest, I wanted more. I wanted to know what became of the families, whether Elena lived to right her wrongs, whether Mia regretted any of her decisions, and most of all, whether Celeste Ng would ever find it within herself to write a sequel!
“Most of the time, everyone deserves more than one chance. We all do things we regret now and then. You just have to carry them with you.”
I can’t recommend this book enough – to Mothers, to teens, to those who have loved and lost, faced moral dilemmas, struggled with stereotypes, discrimination, or who just love to get their teeth stuck into a truly brilliant book!
Little Fires Everywhere is available to buy here at Amazon, RRP £3.99.