Little Fires Everywhere (2017)

by Celeste Ng

Shaker Heights, Ohio, one of the USís first planned communities, was Celeste Ngís home from age 10 through high school. It is the setting for her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, and its prescribed orderliness is reflected in the life of the Richardson family. Journalist Elena Richardson and her husband, attorney Bill, and their four teenage children are a seemingly perfect family in a big, affluent home.

The open-mindedness on which Elena prides herself will be tested by the arrival of Mia Warren, a vagabond photographer, and her 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, who rent a house Elena inherited from her parents. Gradually the Richardson kids are attracted by Miaís creativity, and Pearl is attracted by the structure and stability of the Richardson home. As the offspring are spending more time in one anotherís homes, the parents take opposite sides in a custody case. An infertile couple who are friends of the Richardsons have taken in and hope to adopt a baby who was abandoned at a fire station. The babyís Chinese mother, with Miaís support, now wants the baby back.

Different worlds collide in the novel, with fiery (literally and figuratively) consequences.


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