Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Published by Penguin Press
This novel has been reviewed to death and almost universally adored. I have to add my voice to the chorus and say that I absolutely LOVED Little Fires Everywhere. I thought Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You, was interesting and very good; this one was a major step up from that in my opinion.
The long and short of the story is this: the Richardson family consists of mom, dad, and four teenage children and they are the “perfect” family living in Shaker Heights, Ohio. They own a rental property and when Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl come to town and rent their apartment, Pearl becomes friends with the Richardson kids and Mia begins working for the family as a sort of housekeeper. Shit hits the fan when the youngest Richardson daughter becomes close to Mia, Pearl develops a crush on one of the Richardson sons and befriends the other daughter, and Mia gets tangled up in a scandal involving a couple friendly with the Richardsons.
What was so impressive about this story, for me, was the way that Ng crafted so many incredibly unique but important characters. Each person in the novel significantly contributed to the overall arc of the story; even the most minor of characters became a fixture of some aspect of the novel. By the end of the book I felt as though each character was a part of my life, of my own experiences, and I had gotten to know each one of them in an individual, and surprising, way.
The other incredible thing about this book is that there is absolutely no black and white in the entire thing. Each issue or situation is picked apart from multiple points of view, shown from all angles, and I truly empathized with every single character in every situation they encountered. There are no good guys or bad guys here, just ordinary people faced with ordinarily difficult situations and decisions and are trying to figure out the best way to navigate through these things. It’s so realistic yet taken to the next degree – it’s real life, but so much sharper, if that makes sense.
I could go on and on about Little Fires Everywhere but let me just end by saying that this novel is worth every bit of hype it has received. This novel is SO fantastic and I can’t more highly recommend it. It will definitely be one of my absolute favorites of the year.