Book Review

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It deserves all the accolades it’s received. I was so-so on Ng’s first novel (Everything I Never Told you) but this one is much richer, complex, and nuanced. Mia is such a complete and well imagined character. It’s extremely difficult to describe a visual artist and their work but Ng has succeeded here so well that I could actually see in my mind the collage pieces that Mia created. Each of the characters- all five teenagers and all four mothers were richly drawn so that we understood their motivations, their fears, their flaws, and what it would feel like to be them. Bel Canto remains my favorite book of all time but this one has taken slot #2.  The televised adaptation starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon fleshed out the characters and brought alive the interactions among the teenagers in a way that enhanced my enjoyment of the book, but of necessity left out some of the rich language and descriptive passages that I so enjoyed in the novel.

And as a writer, I was also intrigued by how many “rules” Ng broke – we’re told to watch the amount of back story we put into our narratives. Well, this book is over 300 pages long and only the first and last chapters (approximately 17 pages) are NOT the story of what happened in the past. There’s head hopping, there’s tons of adjectives and “ing” words and yet – and yet- I could not stop reading and I never wanted it to be over.