Book Review

Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng | Book Review

Hey Guys! I am Max and a little while back, I was buddy-reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng with Jessica from Endless Chapters and I completed it before she does because she joined the ‘reading session’ when I was midway through the novel [Sorry, Jessica, for not waiting for you]. A quick shoutout to Jessica from Endless Chapters: She has an astonishing blog and she writes wondrous reviews on books (Don’t mind me fanboying here) and I am indubitable that you guys will cherish her blog!  

So, without further ado, let us get into the review!

Disclaimer:

  • All thoughts and opinions are on my own and,
  • The review for this book is spoiler-proof. So, feel free to stay until the very end of this article!

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Synopsis:

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 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.

My Introspection:

This is the very first Domestic Fiction novel that I had read in my entire life and it did not foil. Note that I will be reading more novels dispense from Celeste Ng because everything from her writing style to the character structures was executed flawlessly- maybe not impeccable but this novel is adjacent to consummation. I will be getting my hands on a printed copy of Everything I Never Told You sometime soon as I was infatuated with how the story unfurled in Little Fires Everywhere

“Perfection: that was the goal, and perhaps the Shakers had lived it so strongly that it seeped into the soil itself, feeding those who grew up there with a propensity to overachieve and a deep intolerance for flaws.”

The strongest point in this novel was the root of each of the characters and their impulses and intentions. We have the Richardsons: Izzy, Lexie, Moody, Trip, Bill, Elena. Bill, the father of the four children, laboured for the erroneous side of the court to detach the mother essence from the baby. Elena, the mother of four children, who trailed after perfection and thus, resulted in the destruction of her home. Moody who betrayed his best friend. Trip who played with everyone’s feelings. Lexie who used people. Izzy who knew what was right and wrong.

In addition, we have Bebe, Mia and Pearl. Bebe who made a mistake and lost custody over her child and was determined to win her back from her baby’s adopted family and therefore, ended up in court. Mia who was passionate and meticulous in her artwork ran away with her child under certain circumstances and winded up in Shaker Heights. Pearl, Mia’s only child, was innocent. These are a class of characters with distinct personalities, each different from one another; each of them has their own motivation. Truth to be told, there are more characters outside of this globule and more stories to be told but I had just furnished you with the significant ones.

“A lot of times, parents are not the best at seeing their children clearly. There’s so much wonderful about you.”

This novel is definitely more character-driven than plot-driven as the author has given a chance for the readers to disinter the core of the characters and to answer questions as to why they behave the way they did. Let’s take Elena Richardson as an example, she is a perfectionist: she chases after perfection in everything such as family life, work life, college life, etc. and when a person comes in and disrupts the whole system of staying perfect, she is furious and somewhat afraid- thinking that she had missed out on something. It is that that drives her to exhume a person’s life, depositing that person unornamented. Each of the characters in this novel has their own personalities and they are again, distinguishable from one another and thus, making the novel enjoyable.

However, the first 100 pages of the book were tedious and somewhat boring. I conjectured that Celeste was trying to build up the atmosphere and the characters but I thought that certain scenes should be shortened down in order to make it more compelling. After the first quarter of the book, the pacing subsequently picked up and everything was much more enjoyable until the point where I almost forgot about the problems that I had in the first 100 pages. If you are someone who can tolerate slow pacing or is currently reading this novel but could not get past the boredom that is the first 100 pages, I highly recommend you to stick to the story as it will get better.

“How could these people, she thought, how could these people take a child from its mother? She told herself this all night and into the next morning, as she dialled, as she waited for the phone to ring. It wasn’t right. A mother should never give up her child.”

The crafting of the atmosphere was very adequately administered as the autochthonous setting which was set in a town dubbed Shakers Height yielded nostalgia for me because it exhibited a sense of hometown quality. For example, the streets that they walked, the way they talked and heck, even the phone that they used. It seemed to appear that I was there and this calls for the writing style: only a valid and conspicuous writing style would enable a reader who has the book in hand to be transported into the story and viewing the characters’ lives.  

“It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone or was it love?”

The style of writing for this novel intumesced my affection for this novel and this particular story even more. Celeste dwelled and adopted words to weave around a subject to increase the precision and intricacy of each scene. The author crafted each scene delicately: the words in each of the scenes; every sentence could not have abstained because if one of the words is withdrawn, the whole construction of the scene is demolished. At least, that was what it suggested when I was reading the novel.

“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.” 

In conclusion, I am bestowing an A (87%) for this novel. If you are into Domestic Fiction with a firm character-driven story and slow pacing, I urge you to pick up this novel as I am assured that you will be able to fully enjoy the experience with this book in hand. 


This is the end of my spoiler-free review for Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng! I hope you all enjoyed it and follow me with your email/Wordpress account to get notifications when I post a new article! Bye!

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22 thoughts on “Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng | Book Review

  1. Good review. Like the detail. “Intumesced my affection.” Nice. Maybe you’ll review mine sometime. I have heard that Celeste Ng is an excellent writer, and although this is not my preferred genre, I might just have to give a read. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Incredible job with this review! I was immediately drawn to this novel, however, it’s been sitting on my NetGalley for a while, for no particular reason other than other review deadlines. Character-driven novels as you described this one are hit or miss with me, so I’m not sure if I’ll get into it or not. The irony is that I seem to be downloading a lot of books lately that are just that: slow-paced, character-driven, and more focus on the workings of their minds than actual action.

    Again, outstanding review!

    Liked by 1 person

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