Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere


Arlina Yang

Little Fires Everywhere (cover)

Arlina Yang, Staff Writer

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, had not only received praise by countless renowned authors and publications, the book had been given awards such as the Goodreads’ Best Fiction Books of 2017 and many more. And I’m sure that this book won all of those awards for a reason.

Ng’s writing had never failed to weave together an intricate plot line, with complex characters that would be explored by Ng further into the story. Ever since I read her debut book, Everything I Never Told You, one that touched on topics from family dynamics, race, and identity? I knew that I was bound to read another beautifully crafted story the second I got my hands on a copy. And boy, was I right.

Each character was unique and brought something to the table with their background, either be the mysteriousness of it or the reason for many of their actions. With each story of the characters, it gradually gave me pieces to the puzzle as I flip the pages along. It brought the plot together and moved it along almost — dare I say, perfectly. The story follows the Richardsons and the Warrens as their lives intertwined after the Warrens moved into the Richardsons’ apartment. With the well-ordered town and the lives of the Richardsons changing completely with the arrival of the Warrens.

In Little Fires Everywhere, I would say that my favorite character would be Mia Warren, the mother of Pearl, and often mentioned as mysterious throughout by many characters including her own daughter. Mia’s enigmatic character was a calming presence in any scene of the book, as she always spoke after thought and remained composed no matter who came to her. 

 “Most of the time, everyone deserves more than one chance. We all do things we regret now and then. You just have to carry them with you,” said Mia Warren (250, par. 5). 

This would perhaps be my favorite line in the entire book that hit hard and gave me a clear impression of the unspoken emotions that she had gone through to say those words to another. 

Something I had wanted to see was more of Mrs. Richardson’s background, while some characters’ stories weren’t ever delved into or mentioned at all. Mia’s history, being one of the main characters, was fully told from her upbringing, family issues, and college. I would’ve loved to hear more of her upbringing and family that led her to how she is now as a contrast between the two moms. With only some brief mentions of her mom being strict and controlling. Since Mrs. Richardson was more on the important side of the characters, I would prefer there to be more explanation behind her. And less behind characters like Moody, Mrs. Richardson’s youngest son, who had faded out to some appearances in the middle and barely any towards the end. 

Though I would say that in comparison to her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, this contained much more characters, almost too much that I every so often catch myself wondering who was who. Respectively, there were only four main characters in Everything I Never Told you, surrounding a Chinese-American family. There are overlapping themes between the two as both books circle around families, but I myself prefer Everything I Never Told You.

Both novels were written wonderfully, but Everything I Never Told You had more of an impact on me than Little Fires Everywhere. Despite there being comparatively darker themes in her debut novel than Little Fires Everywhere such as suicide and family struggles. I related to and understood some of the struggles of identity for the characters in Ng’s debut novel, leading to my preference of Everything I Never Told You over Little Fires Everywhere.

After too many romance books in my collection, Little Fires Everywhere along with Everything I Never Told You will definitely stand out in terms of how incredibly well structured and interesting it was. With an evenly spaced out narrative, the story wasn’t dragged out nor filled with useless filler details, which is always a plus.  

If you’re up for a book that brings up rather sensitive topics concerning race, abortion, social status, and family upbringings, all in a captivating story with these interlaced themes, then by all means, go for it. This is a read that I guarantee you will not regret, and I personally cannot wait for more books to come from Ng!