Book Number 22
Little Fires Everywhere
Little Fires Everywhere is an apt name for a novel that deals with so many volatile facets of life and relationships. Ng skillfully introduces many family and personal issues through a neatly woven network of subplots.
The Richardson family lives a seemingly comfortable life in idyllic Shaker Heights but each of them has secrets and yearnings that influence their behavior. When Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive and settle into the Richardson’s rental house, everyone’s life is affected. Mia is an artist whose past is a mystery. Pearl is eager to finally have a permanent home. The Richardson children, Lexie, Trip, Moody, and Izzy are attracted to Mia and Pearl, which upsets the entire family dynamic. The plot evolves through many twists and turns while exposing and examining the main theme of the bonds between mothers and daughters.
There is much to commend this book. There is a lot going on, the writing is easy and interesting, the events are thought-provoking. The descriptions of place, action, and art were all interesting and well done. I found the narrative voice like that of a storyteller, moving point of view from character to character, giving details of each person’s background, and sometimes even revealing the characters’ actions or feelings in their future. Sometimes I admired Ng’s writing style and sometimes I found it a bit distracting.
I wasn’t a fan of the way the novel started with the climax of events. It is a trend now to start in the middle or end where the most dramatic event occurs. I sometimes feel like this is manipulative. I don’t need a disaster to suck me in. I like a build up to the big event. In this case, I didn’t know anything about the characters, but their reactions to the event caused me to dislike them. They all seemed to say “I knew this would happen.” It left me thinking, why didn’t you do something to prevent it and what was your part in it?
My second objection was the implausibility of some of the things that happened. There were too many times I thought, how could this be? it isn’t that simple.
The open-ended conclusion leaves room for lots of speculation. The reader can choose how things progress for everyone, or they can be left wondering. Will there be a sequel?