Synopsis: Shaker Heights seems like an almost flawless town – careers, families and entire lives are carefully constructed with little margin for error. All this changes when free spirit Mia moves in with her daughter Pearl. Secrets and scandals begin to emerge that threaten to crumble the community’s perfect facade.
I went into this book blind because I just picked the cheapest one on my Kindle from the book club choices of the month! Without prior expectations, the story developed in ways that I wasn’t expecting, which enhanced the intrigue. Hence the above synopsis is deliberately vague – I wanted to make sure that you can have the same experience!
Admittedly, the story took a little bit of effort to get into, as lots of scene setting and character introduction took place. However, this was well worth it as I could not tear myself away for the remaining 80-85% of the book! It also establishes the baseline for character development, which, in my opinion, is the novel’s greatest triumph.
Celeste Ng has created achingly relatable characters. It occurred to me while reading that barely any could be described as ‘minor’. I found it impossible not to become invested in each one as their story and identity intricately developed. Their flaws only rendered them more poignant, so I felt that I could sympathise with all of the characters – even those I disliked or found frustrating.
I often find that books with such a character-centric focus can be slower in terms of the plot. However, in Little Fires Everywhere this focus serves to drive the suspense rather than hinder it. The permeating ethical dilemmas made the story occupy my thoughts even when I wasn’t reading it. An unusual structure is used in which the climactic event occurs right at the beginning, but this does not detract from the intrigue. Instead, a tantalising web of mystery is created that gradually unravels around this dramatic moment at the heart of the novel.
“All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control. It scaled walls and jumped over trenches. Sparks leapt like fleas and spread as rapidly; a breeze could carry embers for miles. Better to control that spark…Domesticated. Happy in captivity. The key, she thought, was to avoid conflagration.”
Read if: you are looking for some character-driven drama.
Cover image courtesy of Goodreads.
Have you read Little Fires Everywhere? What did you think? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!