Worth the Read? — Little Fires Everywhere

Welcome to “Worth the Read?” where I give you my honest opinion on whether you should spend your precious time reading a super-hyped New York Times Bestseller.

Today’s book is:

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

On New York Times Best Sellers list (Hardcover Fiction) for 7 weeks

The Hype:
Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, which came out in 2014 was a critical success, winning honors such as Amazon Book of the Year, an American Library Association’s Alex Award, and more. Readers were excited to read her sophomore novel, as evidenced by its appearance on practically every“Most Anticipated Books of 2017” list out there. And once positive reviews critics started rolling in, celebrities and high-profile authors also put their stamp of approval on the book. Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, John Green, Roxane Gay, and Judy Blume have all expressed their love for the book on social media.

Plot Summary:
From the publisher

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned — from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren — an enigmatic artist and single mother — who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

What’s remarkable about this book is that Celeste Ng gives the ending away at the very beginning, but still manages to make the story so compelling that it reads like a unputdownable thriller.

Also notable is how Ng is able to tackle complex topics like class and race without making the book feel pedantic or like there’s an agenda. The plot and characters are strong enough that the story flows, and it just so happens that issues of class and race are deftly incorporated into the mix. 

The only thing I didn’t love about the book was that I didn’t find any of the characters particularly endearing. I really wanted to connect with at least one character, but none of them stood out as lovable. They were all a bit too self-involved or mysterious.

A final thought: If you’re in your 30s or older, you’ll probably enjoy the ‘90s references. I found it especially entertaining when a character mentioned  the search engine Altavista in a conversation.

Rating: 90% worth it

Rating Key
80% – 100% – the book lives up to the hype. Go read it now!
60% – 79% – the book is good, but there’s no rush to read it
40% – 59% – the book has some degree of merit, but has flaws and probably isn’t worth your time
0% – 39% – the book stinks and isn’t worth the read

Have you read Little Fires Everywhere  What were your thoughts? Share in the comments below!

One response to “Worth the Read? — Little Fires Everywhere”

  1. Allison @ My Novel Life Avatar

    Thanks for the honest review. I know this book was highly anticipated and got a lot of positive hype, but I’ve encountered a lot of people who didn’t like it. Glad to hear you liked it though. It’s still on my TBR.

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