I was super excited to read Little Fires Everywhere for my in-person book club! It won the 2017 Goodreads award for best fiction and there are 4 and 5 stars reviews everywhere. Surprisingly everyone in the book club had the same feelings about the book. Everyone gave it either a 3 star or a 4 star rating and felt that it was an enjoyable read, but wouldn’t rush out to recommend it to everyone that they know.
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.
It took a while for me to get into Little Fires Everywhere. I was super confused by the beginning of the book when they were talking about a fire and a girl with two names and then all of a sudden time shifted back a couple months. It then took a while to get into the custody battle and even later to reach the fire again. I was wondering for the longest time what the book was even about since it seemed to be about people in their everyday lives.
What I enjoyed most of about the book was how Ng is able to connect you with so many characters in such a brief amount of time. You got to understand the characters and why they were motivated to do the things that they did. Ng also did a great job being neutral. There was the big custody battle and she presented both sides well and you have no idea which side she is on.
The novel really picks up around the 150/200 page mark when you learn more about Mia’s backstory and how she got to this point in her life. I enjoyed reading more her and again Ng presented some controversial topics that had readers on either side of the fence for.
Then there was the ending. Ugh, I was not a fan of the ending. I wanted more and I wanted a bit more closure. I felt that it was left too open ended. I also read a lot of mysteries so I expect things not to be as they seem and hope for a jaw dropping of an ending, sadly this did not deliver.
3 calculators out of a potential 5. An enjoyable read, but sadly it could be a book that I quickly forget. I wish there was more time spent on the aftermath of the ending.