Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng


“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”


Shakers Heights is the perfect place to live – it is a planned community, where the grass is always green and everything adheres a strict schedule. This keeps the kids in line, peace between families, and the community looking, well, perfect.  Elena Richardson is a staple of the community; whose family embodies nothing less than perfection. In other words, they were made for Shaker.


In comes Mia Warren, the enigmatic artist, who moves wherever her art calls her, and drags her daughter along with her. Mia is a single mother, and her daughter Pearl has never stayed in any place too long. She knows better than to make friends, or to join any high school clubs. She knows they’ll be gone soon. Mia and Pearl arrive in Shakers Heights and rent a house from the Richardson family. Pearl is told that this is it, what she has always wanted – the perfect place to settle down. Pearl struggles to find her place but that is quickly resolved when she meets Moody, one of the Richardson boys. Pearl begins spending all of her time in the Richardson home, and she begins wanting to be a Richardson. She becomes friends with Lexie, the Richardson daughter, and begins crushing hard on Trip, the eldest Richardson son. Mia fights herself as she watches her daughter become someone she’s not, or perhaps, someone she never got the chance to be?


Elena and Mia are thrown together because of the friendships between their children, and the news of a custody battle that has shaken everyone in town. Elena, deeply suspicious of Mia, offers her a job as a housekeeper in her home. Mia accepts this job, with the intention of staying close to her daughter. Then, Mia meets Izzy. Izzy is the rebel of the Richardson family. She is chaotic, problematic, moody, and so much more. She does not live her life like a Richardson, she does not value order. She is passionate, and has her own way of doing things. Izzy has never met anyone like Mia before, and begins seeing Mia as a mentor.


When the kids go to the MoMa and see an art piece of Mia hanging on the wall, they are shocked. Pearl is embarrassed as she comes to the realisation that she doesn’t know her mother the way she thought she did. She begins to wonder who her father is, whether she was wanted as a baby, and why Mia has hid so much of her past from her. As Mia feels the heat of these questions and their relationship shifts, she realises she cannot keep the truth from her daughter for much longer.


When the children tell Elena about this photograph, she takes it upon herself to discover everything she can about Mia. Who is this woman, living in her house? What lies has she told? Why does she believe she has the right to live differently, better, than everyone else?


What is she hiding?


Little Fires Everywhere delves into the angst that burns into and through many relationships, especially the relationships between a mother and a daughter. This story explores the reality behind motherhood and the lack of perfection it comes with. It does not matter who you are, being a mother also means to be human, and to be human is to err. At the end, the relationships we have come down to love and sacrifice.


My favourite part about this book is the constant change of perspectives on each scenario. The author was able to capture all sides to a scenario that helps you understand each character. It made me realise that there are so many sides to every story, and they all deserve to be heard. I disliked how slow the book was, I found it hard to keep reading at times because I was eager for the storyline to pick up.


Another note is that this book is being adapted into a series, starring Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, and more!


And lastly, piece of advice, from me to you… read the book, first!

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