Book Blog – Little Fires Everywhere


  • Rating: 3 out of 5
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Category: Motherhood, Life Choices, Perfectionism

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Book Review – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng


Well defined characters abound in this story. From the rule-abiding Mrs. Richardson and the free-spirited artist Mia, their remarkable offsprings and each’s unique approach to motherhood. The female characters rule this story. In the strength of their conviction and in the depth of their emotions, they sparkle and outshine the roles of the male characters in the narrative.

“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all at the same time. You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she’d been and the child she’d become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously, like a 3-D image. It made your head spin. It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again.”
― Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere


Oh, the setting! I could see Shaker Heights in my mind’s eye and I could feel it in my gut. A city where every resident has a stereotype to follow. This city’s definition of the human being is unforgiving in specific units of measurement. Who you are and what you think has no value in the face of such tangible measurements of success.

For the kids, it is their academic prowess, how good they are at sports, how ‘obedient’, and most importantly where they go to school. 

Adults have their own scale of measurement – how big is the house, how fancy the car, and how well they fit into the definition of an ‘ideal family’ in an ‘ideal suburb’.

The perfection of this setting is suffocating and leaves one gasping for breath, holding on to the last tendrils of ever-fleeting individuality. Individuality that is put to the test under bright fluorescent lights on a daily basis. Each day you fall short, your individuality takes another apologetic step back into your heart, willing itself to never show itself again in the face of this harsh quantification of the human being.

“It bothers you, doesn’t it?” Mia said suddenly. “I think you can’t imagine. Why anyone would choose a different life from the one you’ve got. Why anyone might want something other than a big house with a big lawn, a fancy car, a job in an office. Why anyone would choose anything different than what you’d choose.”
― Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere


The plot is where I felt a bit underwhelmed. It seems so common for writers to bring to life sparkling characters, put them in unique settings, and then find it impossible to decide what to do with them. As I frequently am, I was almost appalled at how little justice the storyline does to these well-defined characters and their spectacular settings.

My Impressions:

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

― Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere

I can see where the Shaker mindset comes from. I have lived and breathed in a city just like it for 20 years of my life. And I acknowledge that the cruelty of this seemingly perfect situation must be revealed. Yet I wanted more from this story. I wanted it to be more in favor of Mia than in the undermining of Mrs. Richardson. I need to see more Pearls take their rightful place in all parts of the world and thrive. I would have loved to see Mia and Pearl stay in Shaker Heights. And in their staying, they would have slowly but surely changed the mindset of that little town, opening the minds of its inhabitants to the full spectrum of human magnificence and dropping their small-minded definitions of success.

Most popular books written by Celeste Ng:

Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel

Everything I Never Told You


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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