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{November 29, 2019}   {Review} Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

From Goodreads: 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.


Oh man. Wow. This novel. I was swept up and away with Ng’s storyline and characters as she brought them to life through the pages of this novel. I felt so much anger and rage as I read, towards Elena for her intrusiveness, towards Mia and her secretiveness, and even towards the McCulloughs for not understanding Bebe Chow, and Bebe Chow for her own plight… but I also felt heartache for each in tow as I read, and part of that stems from Ng’s ability to create a realistic and vivid portrayal of the human soul, and partly because being adopted myself, and not knowing my birth family, helped me to feel this one on a personal level.

Like the child in question, May Ling Chow, I was given up for adoption to a loving family who wanted me more than life itself, and they gave me an amazing life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise had. I was blessed; I love my mom and dad more than I could ever express, and the McCullough’s are very much like my parents. So when it came to the great debate within this novel, whether or not Chinese-American May Ling should stay with her adoptive wealthy family or go back to her mother, a woman who admittedly could not care for May Ling, hence handing her over to the fire department, I immediately took the side of the McCulloughs, just like the Richardson’s do. But you know it’s not so black and white, and as Ng personified both sides of the case and showed just how much love Bebe Chow had in order to give up her own child so she could survive, it became clear to me that Bebe, now in a better position to care for her daughter, May Ling, should indeed have her, and I found myself now leaning towards Mia Warren’s side.  But how do you take away a child from her adopted family after a year of living with them? I became torn, so torn, and Ng’s masterpiece definitely jerked me around and made me question everything, including my own lack of desire to know anything about my biological family, and I’m just so glad I’m not the judge who had to make the ultimate decision for May Ling’s fate, one that would either crush the MuCulloughs or Bebe Chow. How can anyone make that choice?

The characters and the plight of them all were so real in Ng’s beautifully written novel… they touched my soul, and I am absolutely impressed with this story, especially the multiple revelations that crop up throughout concerning who the characters really are, and the secrets they keep. This one just blew me away; a must-read for sure! Five stars.

I initially borrowed this novel from the library, but then bought it for my own personal library, as it is a must for my shelves.

Did you know that you can read this novel for FREE with a FREE TRIAL of Audible for 30 days? Try it today!

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