Set in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere is the story of two families, the upper-class Richardsons and their renters, Mia and Pearl. Ng returns to the themes of her first novel — secrecy, class, privilege, and the intricacies of family life — with mesmerizing results. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
When mysterious artist Mia Warren and her daughter settle in suburban Shaker Heights, Ohio, their lives intersect with the Richardson family. The results are devastating to all. Ng has created a cast of characters who could be shallow stereotypes, but she gives each person a complex inner life that is achingly tender and fundamentally, understandably human. Blinded by good intentions, undone by kindness, and wounded by casual, if unintentional indifference, the Warrens and Richardsons broke my heart. This story of families also speaks ruthlessly to the current social environment, in which so many of us are asking, "How could this possibly have happened?," by illuminating the possible effects of liberal assumptions. Recommended By Kathi K., Powells.com
Ng pitches you headfirst into the deep, complex lives of two very different families who give us an in-depth look at a small town polarized by a young, poor, Chinese mother who is fighting for custody of her baby, who has been adopted by a wealthy white family. The narrative of secrets and ideologies that are exposed is not unlike the current state of society. Recommended By Brianna B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.
"I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting." – Jodi Picoult
"Witty, wise, and tender. It’s a marvel." – Paula Hawkins
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.
"Fans of novelist Celeste Ng’s debut, Everything I Never Told You, and devotees of her resistance-ready Twitter feed can rejoice…The story drifts effortlessly between characters; each is full and memorable as they coax the novel to its fiery climax. Ng reminds us that action is a choice, and you’ll want to keep reading until the last irreversible actions play out." Bustle
"Totally absorbing, each character drawn so well it makes it impossible to decide whose side you’re on." Marie Claire
"[Ng’s] descriptions are so dead-on you can practically see the Cleveland skyline as you ride shotgun with these characters." Glamour
"Takes unerring aim at upper-middle-class America’s blind spots… a nuanced study of mothers and daughters and the burden of not belonging to our families or our communities." Vogue
"I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting. With brilliance and beauty, Celeste Ng dissects a microcosm of American society just when we need to see it beneath the microscope: how do questions of race stack up against the comfort of privilege, and what role does that play in parenting? Is motherhood a bond forged by blood, or by love? And perhaps most importantly: do the faults of our past determine what we deserve in the future? Be ready to be wowed by Ng’s writing — and unsettled by the mirror held up to one’s own beliefs." Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things and Leaving Time
About the Author
Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio. She attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and son.