Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng
Genres: Fiction
Release Day: September 12th 2017
ARC was kindly provided from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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.

4 stars!

“The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that too, you know. They start over. They find a way.”

Little Fires Everywhere is my first book by Celeste Ng and I didn’t even think I’d get approved by NetGalley since the book was already published when I requested but here we are. Fun fact: I requested two editions of this book, the US and UK one because the US one was already published and I never thought I’d get either but somehow, I did. This is a slow burn book, it demands time to read it and you can’t do so in one sitting, I think it took me almost two weeks to finish it but not in a bad way, more like, I needed to take my time with this one and read it in small pieces. Ng’s writing from the first pages hooks you in and in just the first chapters, this world comes to life and these people become like a real life scene you can’t look away from.

The book takes place in Shaker Heights, which I didn’t know was a real place and pretty much everything that happens in the book – as far as the inner city politics go – is true, which was amazing to read about and a lot of things made me want to actually google stuff and read up on it, so fascinating.

Little Fires Everywhere starts with two families, polar opposites, that have one thing in common, their teenage kids are friends. Mia and Pearl are the newcomers that move to Shaker Heights and rent a house from the Richardsons. The story takes its sweet time, told from a third POV, it travels from character to character whether it’s the main two families or the students and teachers, tells bits and pieces of their past, present and sometimes future, it creates the perfect narration and it brings this odd city to life with the details and the amazing writing.

Mia and Pearl is a duo that has traveled all around the country, as Mia uses each place as inspiration for her art and they live paycheck to paycheck. Half way into the book and after the mother/daughter pair have settled in and they are now making friends and living a normal life with a steady home, an event shakes things up even more when another family close to the Richardsons adopts a Chinese baby. By that time the book has already introduced the main characters and as a reader I was in the process of figuring them out when, half way in, the adoption happens.

Elena Richardson and Mia are on opposite sides of the custody battle and that gives Elena the excuse to search Mia’s unknown past. The book asks really hard questions about parenthood and what really makes a parent, is it biology or the ability to take care of a child better than the biological mother? So perfectly titled, Mia and Pearl’s arrival sets little fires in this quiet city set a few decades ago – I didn’t appreciate the Lewinsky references, can we let that woman be already?! – that makes this story all the more appealing with the lack of technology that would have changed it a lot.

Despite the fact that it took me time to read it, it wasn’t because it was boring or I wasn’t interesting. The story is intense and just a few chapters can cover more narration and storyline than I’m used to reading but it made me want to keep coming back to it after I’d put the book down. If you’re in the mood for a slow read with lots of city politics and different characters then this is the book for you, personally I will be adding more books by the author on my TBR list.

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