Video: Book Review – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Published September 2017
Penguin Press

One-sentence summary:

Mia and her daughter, Pearl, have spent their lives moving from one place to another every few months, but may have just found a home in Shaker Heights.

Little Fires Everywhere encompasses so many themes.

It covers white privilege, economic privilege, mothers and their children, coming of age, starting over like a Phoenix from the ashes…

Let me back up.

Mia is an artist living an artist’s life. She sees not a pool of water, but the reflections in the droplets, the whoosh of light on the surface as it moves.

She and her teen daughter, Pearl, don’t stay long in one place. This latest town, though, is meant to stick. They’re ready to stay.

Mia’s landlady, Mrs. Richardson, is accepting of them in the beginning. They are her latest good deed.

As the story progresses, we see the ugly side of her benevolence.

The book isn’t preachy. Ng doesn’t set out to write an allegory Rather, it’s just a compelling and thought-provoking story.

But in the course of the narrative, we see several themes comes into play.

  • White privilege: A rich white couple tries to adopt a Chinese baby against its mother’s wishes.
  • Economic privilege: Mrs. Richardson and her large pocketbook walk into and all over situations with no regard of the consequences.
  • Coming of age: Many of the book’s character are teens who are stumbling into adulthood. Part of coming of age is realizing your parents aren’t perfect, which bring me to…
  • Mothers and their children: We see mothers of all stripes – good, bad, hopeful, fallible.
  • And then there’s the fire imagery, burning up the lives people think they lead in a fiery flash.
  • Beautifully written and just a darn good story. This story has stayed with me.
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