Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Rating: 3.9/5

Warning: This review is full of spoilers.

Little Fires Everywhere is the kind of book where, while reading, you have to constantly remind yourself that this is a story filled with family drama. If you don’t, then you will be disappointed by the predictable twists and turns.

The story revolves around a mother’s love for her child, presented in three different sub-stories.

You have the kind-hearted Mia, rule-following Elena, and heartbroken Bebe. Each one of them is trying to do what they think is best for their children.

I have two sisters who are both artists and have always let their imagination become a part of their lives. So naturally, whenever I read the same old portrayal of an artist, I internally roll my eyes.

When it comes to movies and books, these people are always the ones who scoff at conformists. They are always the ones who are free-spirited and honest to their core. The problem grows when every author starts using these traits to define their ‘artist’. This doesn’t mean I dislike every artistic character. But I did dislike Mia.

Here, I have to add that I enjoyed Celeste Ng’s take on Mia’s style of photography. The way she captured and modified her images intrigued me. I am excited to see how it will be depicted in the TV series.

If you pay attention to the synopsis, then it becomes clear that Ng has made up her mind about people who follow rules. So, as soon as I read about Elena, I knew she was the one I would learn to hate. I use the word ‘learn’ because I didn’t find myself disliking her character. Sure, let’s talk about how Elena is selfish, and goes out of her way to make sure things appear the way they do in her mind.

But so does Mia. Why else would she run away with the baby when she had agreed and signed a contract with the Ryans? I understand that the love between a mother and her child is unimaginable. I understand that Mia, after losing Warren, didn’t want to lose her baby. But Ng took sides when it came to defining her characters: she wanted us to agree that Mia was right all along.

Moving on to other characters, the Richardson’s children were slightly unbearable. A jock, a cheerleader, a loser and an outsider; we have all seen this combination before.

I was also particularly interested with the way Mia dealt with Izzy. Think about it: if you knew a child felt like they didn’t belong to their family and had a history of getting into trouble, would you really give them vague advice like the one below.

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.

This quote left me wondering what Ng had in mind. If Ng’s intention was to show us a mother who knew what to say, then this advice was the exact opposite of what Mia should have said.

Overall, I thought the book was good. Ng is a gifted writer — I appreciated the way she unwrapped her story one by one. Even though every paragraph was written from a different character’s point of view, I didn’t find myself getting confused even once.

What did you think of the book? Let me know in the comments section below!