Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Check out my review of Celeste Ng's new book, Little Fires Everywhere over on Suzy Approved Book Reviews.

Spoiler alert - I loved this book! I could've written a paper about all the intricacies and thematic principles in this story. Someday, someone will, as I'm sure it will turn up on university reading lists before long.

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Celeste Ng’s second book, Little Fires Everywhere will be one of those books that stays with me. There is so much beauty, truth, pain and humanity in this book that I found myself underlining and pondering passages, rereading them to savor them and roll them around in my mind.

I must share a couple, these two selections hit upon two themes of the book:

“The photos stirred feelings she couldn’t quite frame in words, and this, she decided, must mean they were true works of art.”

“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once.”

Ng uses the omniscient point of view and at first it was a little uncomfortable as a reader, but I quickly got accustomed and appreciated her uncommon choice. Readers enjoy nuanced perspectives without feeling like we’re held at arms length from the characters who are distinctive and multi-dimensional, their stories expertly interwoven.

Little Fires Everywhere digs in and exposes human selfishness, flaws, desires, misperceptions, and tendencies. I was nodding and marveling at the richness and poignancy of the author’s portrayal of teenage behaviors, motivations, and emotions. And then there are her profiles of motherhood. This story does a deep dive into what it means to be a mother, what qualifies as competency, who gets to decide, and raises so many more questions around the essential role of being a mother.

Those who are familiar with my reviews know I love to consider the title’s meaning and Little Fires Everywhere provides enough material to write a thesis. Take this quote which gracefully uses fire-type words while letting us know that this character’s decisions and actions in that moment were starting one of the many fires throughout the story: “Even then Mia had a sense of what she was starting; a hot smell pricked her nostrils, like the first wisp of smoke from a far-off blaze.” Compelling and observant, there is so much to analyze and discuss within these 367 pages that it will surely end up on university reading lists. Brilliantly constructed, I highly recommend Celeste Ng’s second book, Little Fires Everywhere.

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