Sunday, 3 December 2017

ARC Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Published: September 2017

Pages: 367


Summary


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 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 Richardson's 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.


My Thoughts...


This was such an amazing read, I don't think I will ever be able to do it justice. I loved everything about this book: the characters, the story, the style... I am just gushing over this!!
This was the first Celeste Ng book I read, but I'm sure it will not be my last. I adored her writing style: it was clear and detailed enough to make me feels inside the story, but never too long-winded. This was one of those books that I just couldn't put down: I was so drawn into the story that I just had to see what would happen next, where it would all lead.

I'm personally very much into stories revolving around family drama and dark secrets, so the plot of this one was right up my alley. I particularly liked the way in which two very different (if not outright opposing) family units come up one against the other, which led perfectly to deeper reflections on what makes a family "good"? Is it just order and keeping up appearances as Mrs. Richardson would have it, or is Mia's spontaneity and disregard for socially-approved customs the right way to go? Or perhaps neither?

I was fascinated by the characters. True, some were explored much more deeply than others, and I was sorry that we only got snippets of what the men in here were thinking, but women were definitely the main focus here. Both of the two main adult females walk down a path that could potentially lead them to self-destruction - and take their families with them. I loved the way in which the author explored boundaries: just how far can relationships stretch before they break? How far can a mother go to make sure her children stay safe, to keep her worst fears from becoming true? And just how much does she nurture the growth of those fears and their concretisation through her behaviour? 

These and many other questions were raised, and most are still circling around my brain the more I think about this book. A story developed on multiple levels, Little Fires Everywhere just keeps on fueling my own reflections on these themes. Definitely one of my best reads this year, this book is now burned into my memory, and I have a feeling it will stay like that for a very long time.

Rating: 5/5