How did I wait so long to get to this book that is so in my wheelhouse? I wanted to read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng before I dove into the new Hulu mini-series with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. I actually found my large print copy in the Little Free Library by my house a few months ago, and with quarantine on the brain, I finally got around to this book, and totally devoured it.
Little Fires Everywhere is the story of two distinct families and how the lines between them begin to blur. On one side there’s the Richardsons, wealthy mom and dad, hot jock older brother, popular sister, teenage boy du jour (Moody), and crazy little sister. Then there’s the Warren family: Mia, photographer and artist and nomad, and her teenage daughter Pearl, who initially befriends Moody Richardson and ends up enmeshed deeply within the Richardson house, the family dynamic, and the family drama. The town becomes divided when a poor Chinese mother abandons her daughter at a fire station and decides to fight for custody just as a nice, white, wealthy couple is set to finalize the adoption of the little girl. Who will the judge side with–is being a mother about blood or about more than that? That question will reverberate through our characters as Mrs. Richardson discovers just where Pearl came from, all while someone is struggling with the spectre of teen pregnancy and others are trying to find a new mother figure in their life. Everything comes to a fiery conclusion though when the Richardson house goes up in flames.
This book is so well-done. The prose is intoxicating. The characters are compelling, and I enjoyed following the entire story. I am so excited to see how this plays out in the Hulu mini-series, and I definitely think Witherspoon and Washington were excellent choices for this story, based just on what I read and what acting I’ve seen them do before. Also, on a side note, this was one of the best books I’ve read that dealt with abortion–clearly the author favors choice by having it in the book, but the way the characters talk about it, mourn it, and engage with the fact that it is something they can carry in a way, was super well-done. Not blame-y, not preach-y, not overly celebratory, just a very realistic and honest depiction.
If you run a book club, this would be an excellent book club pick. There’s debate about race, culture, class, teen relationships, secrets, the right to privacy, and so much more. I can’t wait to see how the show is received and talk about it with more people.