Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
My Rating: 4 stars
This was quite an addicting read for such a slow moving narrative. I loved all of the intricacies of the plot and the ways all of the characters’ lives were woven together. The characters were portrayed in such relatable ways that I found myself able to identify and sympathize with all of them, even though there was a wide range of differences between each person. We got to know everyone very well; this was a positive in most cases, but was overdone in others. Learning about what life was like growing up for Mrs. Richardson, for example, gave me the perspective to understand how she became the person she was and why she acted in certain ways, but I do think some of the details could have been left out. We still would have ended up with the same effect- sans the paragraphs of background information that felt excessive and tempted me to skip ahead. I didn’t need to know the whole background of Elena’s relationship with the woman who’s head of the clinic to be able to fully understand the dynamic between the two. Other bits of background information was essential and needed to be included for the story to have it’s full effect, but I do think there were portions that could have been edited down.
It was satisfying to see different storylines finally come together after watching them play out from different perspectives, but it was also frustrating to watch so many misunderstandings unfold just because characters didn’t talk to each other about things. Life is messy and our first assumptions about people are generally not correct, especially when we are missing so much information about what led to the moment in time we are using to make our conclusions. Context and background information is something that can completely change a picture, and I think this novel did a wonderful job of portraying that. My frustration with the characters’ lack of communication may have simply come down to having all the knowledge as a reader and watching the characters act without that knowledge; the events in the story weren’t unrealistic, but it felt like one too many misunderstandings and near misses that led to things playing out the way they did.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story and couldn’t pull myself away until the very end. We got to know all the characters very well, and the author did a great job of portraying that there can be more to each person and situation than initially meets the eye. There were a number of different scenarios in this book that led to the characters having to make difficult decisions, and I found myself wondering what choices I would have made and whose side I would have taken if faced with the same dilemmas. I would have liked more resolution at the end of the novel, and I was unimpressed that some of the story felt incomplete; I was surprised that the story ended where it did. This novel wasn’t perfect, and I think it could have benefited from being longer in some aspects and less detailed in others, but the writing and characterization was executed very well. I can see this book sticking with me for a while, and I will definitely be seeking out other books similar to this one in the future.