Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng | Can you plan your life to perfection?

little fires everywhere_header

Shaker Heights, Cleveland, is a community that has been planned out to a tee. It is a stable and safe environment for steady, successful families. Where nothing could go wrong. Or could it?

Surprisingly, I wasn’t interested in reading this book right away. But couldn’t stay strong during all the hype that happened on multiple social media platforms after the release, and had to see for myself what this was all about.

34273236Everyone 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.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours 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 teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

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Many people describe «Little Fires Everywhere» as a slow paced family drama. Which I do not necessarily agree. Especially when it comes to the pace of the story. Considering that we see development of so many characters in the book, main and secondary, and the amount of events that ties them all together, there was never a moment when I thought about this book as slow or lacking tempo.

Creating a character driven novel, Celeste Ng found the perfect balance between  unfolding the plot and characters’ personalities right before our eyes.

The Richardson family represented the spirit of Shaker Heights. At least that what Mrs. Richardson stood for: planned, programmed future, where everything is predictable and there are no margins for error. But life played its own tricks, when Mia Warren, a single mother, nomadic artist, with a 15 years old daughter Pearl, moved in the Shakers Heights and rented Mrs. Richardson’s flat.

Attracted by the novelty of lifestyle, Richardson’s kids slowly started to immerse themselves more and more in Mia’s and Pearl’s life. And that was where the clash of different approaches to life happened.

Izzy especially. Having a difficult relationship with her mother, Isabelle, was drawn to Mia from the very beginning, seeking the attention she wasn’t getting at home. Lexie also found solace in Mia’s presence. Pearl on the other hand was much more receptive of the Richardson family and their stability, something that she didn’t have enough during her 15 years of life.

Besides the delicate relationships between the Richardson and Warren families, there was also the adoption of Mirabelle McCullough and the battle for custody, that pushed Mia and Mrs. Richardson on the opposite sides.

My rating:
★★★★☆

The story and the whole reading experience was very enjoyable. Did it live up to my expectations? Not necessarily. But it was worth all of the minutes of my time and I am very glad that I got around to reading it. Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group The Penguin Press for the free ARC of this book!

With love,

Alex

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