After 5 or so days of no reading, I decided to abandon all review copies and pick up a book I’ve been wanting to read for ages, and I’m so glad I did. It was just the read I needed, and I had so much fun buddy reading it with Eva @ Novel Deelights.
Everyone 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 principal 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 is literary gold, extremely well-written, an absorbing tale exploring community and family ties, in particular motherhood – decisions about readiness for motherhood and exploring what it means it be a mother.
The pace is slow, but in an absorbing way, as you learn about Mia’s life and all that occurs in Shaker Heights, you’re wary of this stepford wives-esque community but so interested in the lives of these residents. This novel promotes great discussion, and it is highly thought provoking, as you wonder who should win the custody case. While I loved all the different strands to this story, any that featured Izzie were my favourite, from the offset, I found her to be an interesting character, she was my favourite of the novel, closely followed by Mia.
I’m purposely not talking about the events that occurred in the novel as the blurb is quite lengthy and tells you all you need to know prior to reading. All I’ll say is the ending is quite open, so if you’re looking for every question answered, you may not feel complete closure as you turn the last page. For me, I really wanted to see some characters get their comeuppance and see a stronger fall-out from it – right, that’s all I’ll say on that.
What I really came to love about this novel was its subtlety, the writing is never in your face, but it quietly demands your attention. Ng has penned a character-driven tale that I highly recommend; the writing is at times witty, always engaging, beautiful and just a pleasure to read.
Still need convincing, checkout out Eva’s review.