Book Review of Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Since I’m a little late to the Little Fires party, I wondered what I could possibly say about this book that hasn’t already been said. Yet, I still felt compelled to give my opinion anyway.

For those who are unfamiliar with the book, here’s a brief synopsis: Mia Warren and teen daughter Pearl travel the country vagabond-style, so Mia can work on her photography. At the start of Little Fires, Mia and Pearl have now settled in the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Shaker Heights. They rent a small house from The Richardsons and go about their daily lives. When Mrs. Richardson’s best friend decides to adopt a Chinese baby the town is divided and things go south between The Warrens and The Richardsons. Drama ensues and things finally come to a “blurry” end (explained at the end of my review).

I borrowed this book from my daughter, who had read it and enjoyed it. Honestly, I hadn’t heard much about it, but the beginning chapters drew me in and compelled me to keep reading. The adoption drama was introduced later in the book, and this is where the author began to flesh out the characters and their relationships to one another.

Several reviewers have said they felt this book was more YA than anything. I honestly disagree, because the adult characters received equal drama time. Yes, I keep using the word drama, because to me at times the book read like a soap opera. There was a lot of dysfunction and deceit going on here. Mrs. Richardson shamelessly (and immorally) used her reporter status to gain information about Mia. Mia was portrayed as a free-spirited flower child that never grew up. In my opinion, neither character was particularly likable. To be perfectly honest, Izzy was the most real, most likable character of the bunch.

Celeste Ng is a great writer. There’s no doubt about it. She’s used so many excellent devices to bring out character personality, imagery and emotion. Yes, a lot of the plot depends on circumstance, which at times was difficult for me to buy. Yet, it works.

The open ending left much to the imagination, but that’s okay. Readers can decide for themselves what ultimately happens. In the end, I had mixed feelings about Little Fires Everywhere, but I honestly feel it’s still very much worth the read.


4 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton