Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

By Julia Padgett

Little Fires Everywhere sat on the back burner for me to read due to a busy schedule. So when I was finally pressed to make time for Ng’s novel—it was a real reward. Little Fires follows two families and the brief, but significant, intermingling of their lives. On the surface, it seems to be a book that is about and for women. Do not be fooled; this is a book about life, the decisions we make, our passions, and what defines family. There are moral issues that are worth us diving into and chewing on. Ng does a wonderful job of refraining from judgement and presenting a picture of mothers, husbands, sons and daughters and the various issues that arise in life. She pulls us into a character driven world and makes us care about, relate to, and cheer them on. Indeed, I would challenge anyone to not be able to see a reflection of their self or a dear friend in at least one of the characters. The two mothers that the book pivots on are brilliant portraits of similarities and contrasts. Little Fires Everywhere starts with an act of destruction and tells the story of where that flicker of wild and reckless act stems from and how it can happen in Shaker Heights. It is set in the glory days of pre-cell phone and some of us may find feel a longing for the simplicity of the 90s. The town, Shaker Heights, is a backdrop of normalcy and planning and a lovely counterpoint to how sometimes live is messy. Ng’s writing, her ability to let the story and characters speak for themselves, and her insight into some of the more complicated aspects of human nature make this an exceptional read for anyone. Be better than me and take this one off of the back burner.

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