Little Fires Everywhere
Penguin Press HC
Publisher via BookExpo
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors 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 teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood - and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
Make no mistake about it, this will be one of the best books you will read this year! Ms. Ng knocked it out of the park with her sophomore novel (her first was the highly acclaimed Everything I Never Told You). This had all the ingredients of a 5 star read for me, except for one glaring fact. I am the mother of two adopted daughters (from China)! Without revealing too much about the plot, suffice it to say that I don't know that I've ever hated a character more than Mia! I hated that she got involved in the custody issue, and when the reader finds out the reason behind her doing so, I hated her even more!! I'm going to try not to rant here, but I was also insulted by the lawyer implying that there were no Asian dolls available back in 1998. I beg to differ. My daughters came to the US in 1997 and 1999, and they both had several dolls that looked like them including Cabbage Patch, Barbie (Kira 1998), Mulan (which was released in 1998) and American Girl. I know that is nitpicking, but it still rankled with me. I thoroughly enjoyed all the other characters and plots in this book, and the writing was fabulous!
This is a must read book. Definitely worthy of 5 stars, but I gave it 4 because I couldn't see both sides of the one subplot when the issue hit a bit too close to home. Do yourself a favor (except perhaps if you are an adoptive mom) and get yourself a copy of this one!