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Little Fires Everywhere Hardcover – September 12, 2017
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“Witty, wise, and tender. It's a marvel.” —Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water
“Witnessing these two families as they commingle and clash is an utterly engrossing, often heartbreaking, deeply empathetic experience…It’s this vast and complex network of moral affiliations—and the nuanced omniscient voice that Ng employs to navigate it—that make this novel even more ambitious and accomplished than her debut…Our trusty narrator is as powerful and persuasive and delightfully clever as the narrator in a Victorian novel…It is a thrillingly democratic use of omniscience, and, for a novel about class, race, family and the dangers of the status quo, brilliantly apt…The magic of this novel lies in its power to implicate all of its characters—and likely many of its readers—in that innocent delusion [of a post-racial America]. Who set the littles fires everywhere? We keep reading to find out, even as we suspect that it could be us with ash on our hands.” —Eleanor Henderson, The New York Times Book Review
“[Ng] captures her setting with an ethnologist’s authority…And there are time-capsule pleasures in her evocation of 1997…The writing is poised.” —Wall Street Journal
“Delectable and engrossing…A complex and compulsively readable suburban saga that is deeply invested in mothers and daughters…What Ng has written, in this thoroughly entertaining novel, is a pointed and persuasive social critique, teasing out the myriad forms of privilege and predation that stand between so many people and their achievement of the American dream. But there is a heartening optimism, too. This is a book that believes in the transformative powers of art and genuine kindness — and in the promise of new growth, even after devastation, even after everything has turned to ash.” —Boston Globe
“[Ng] widens her aperture to include a deeper, more diverse cast of characters. Though the book’s language is clean and straightforward, almost conversational, Ng has an acute sense of how real people (especially teenagers, the slang-slinging kryptonite of many an aspiring novelist) think and feel and communicate. Shaker Heights may be a place where “things were peaceful, and riots and bombs and earthquakes were quiet thumps, muffled by distance.’ But the real world is never as far away as it seems, of course. And if the scrim can’t be broken, sometimes you have to burn it down. Grade: A-” —Entertainment Weekly
“Stellar…The plot is tightly structured, full of echoes and convergence, the characters bound together by a growing number of thick, overlapping threads….Ng is a confident, talented writer, and it’s a pleasure to inhabit the lives of her characters and experience the rhythms of Shaker Heights through her clean, observant prose. Before she became an author she was a miniaturist — almost too perfect for a writer of suburban fiction — and there’s a lovely, balanced, dioramic quality to this novel. She toggles between multiple points of view, creating a narrative both broad in scope and fine in detail, all while keeping the story moving at a thriller’s pace.” —LA Times
“Riveting…unearthing the ways that race, class, motherhood and belonging intersect to shape each individual…Perhaps Ng's most impressive feat is inviting the reader's forgiveness for Mrs. Richardson –– a woman whose own mission for perfection, and strict adherence to rules ultimately become the catalyst for the maelstrom that ensues.” —Chicago Tribune
“Like Sue Monk Kidd or Madeleine Thien, Celeste Ng has a carpenter’s sure touch in constructing nested, interconnected plots…There are few novelists writing today who are as wise, compassionate and unsparing as Ng, about the choices you make, the ones you don’t, and the price you might pay for missed lives.” —Financial Times
"When you're in the mood for family drama that's not your own, Little Fires Everywhere by CelesteNg will have you hooked." —The Skimm
“Sharp and entertaining—you can’t look away even when things are crashing and burning (literally)—and it possibly ranks up there with all-time great suburbia fiction, like Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides.” —Goop
“Opposites attract and also ignite in this thoughtful novel.” —People
"Ng writes with the wisdom of a hundred lives lived.” —Harpers Bazaar
“A riveting read and one of our favorite new works of fiction this fall.” —Refinery29
“[Ng] probes privilege and the compromises it requires in a riveting novel.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“A meditation on rules, race, class, insiders, outsiders, motherhood. There is no throwaway character. And after you've raced to the end of the book, you'll want to read it again, to take the ideas and hold them up to the harsh light of 2017. Ng's novel would be a great read in any time period—but if you’re struggling with the present moment and how we got here, this novel will do what any good piece of fiction does: illuminate.” —Barrie Hardymon, NPR’s Best Books of 2017
“Like Everything I Never Told You, Ng’s excellent debut, the book plots its way into a smart, accessible conversation about race and class. But free of the restraints of Everything’s thriller construction, Little Fires gives Ng the space and patience to confront how progressive-minded communities approach identity.” —GQ.com
“[A] suspenseful, tense tale.” —W Magazine
“[Ng’s] descriptions are so dead-on you can practically see the Cleveland skyline as you ride shotgun with these characters.” —Glamour
“A meditation on the unspoken pains and contradictions of motherhood. Its story unspools all the raw, knotted tensions that go into making a family…Choosing a rambling van over a 401(k) isn't a sign of delinquent parenting in Ng's universe; it's just one of a series of possible paths, with its own unique pleasures and pitfalls.” —Refinery29
“Unmissable…Ng’s psychological insight is acute, yet generous,…Little Fires Everywhere examines the cruelties that we unwittingly inflict on those we claim to love.” ―Claire Fallon, HuffPost’s Best Fiction Books of 2017
“Takes unerring aim at upper-middle-class America’s blind spots…a nuanced study of mothers and daughters and the burden of not belonging to our families or our communities.” —Vogue
“Totally absorbing, each character drawn so well it makes it impossible to decide whose side you’re on.” —Marie Claire
“Ng writes with the wisdom of a hundred lives lived, churning out complex characters mostly sympathetic, sometimes loathsome, but all startlingly human.” —HarpersBazaar.com
“Fans of novelist Celeste Ng’s debut, Everything I Never Told You, and devotees of her resistance-ready Twitter feed can rejoice…The story drifts effortlessly between characters; each is full and memorable as they coax the novel to its fiery climax. Ng reminds us that action is a choice, and you’ll want to keep reading until the last irreversible actions play out.” —Bust
“Compelling…Little Fires Everywhere invests all of its emotional energies in the relationship between mothers and their children…in Ng’s precisely rendered perfect suburb.” –Vox
“Ng’s taut class drama is calibrated for fireworks.” —New York Magazine, Books to Read This Fall
“Written with deep empathy and vivid characters who feel true to life, Little Fires Everywhere is a captivating, insightful examination of motherhood, identity, family, privilege, perfectionism, obsession, and the secrets about ourselves we try to hide.” —Buzzfeed
“There are few modern writers as brilliant at capturing the complexities of a family as Celeste Ng…The book is smart, nuanced, and exhilarating—but more than anything, Little Fires Everywhere is a gorgeous exploration of motherhood in its many forms, and the many different paths that women travel to get there.” —Shondaland.com
“Ng’s uncanny ability to embody multiple viewpoints makes for a powerful, revelatory novel.” —BBC.com, Ten Books to Read in September
“The un-put-downable story that everyone will be talking about this Fall. A must read for book clubs.” –PopSugar
“Equal parts clever, relatable, surprising and unsettling… Ng covers a lot of ground here, from class nuance to the nature of conformity. But the story really shines when she examines complex mother-daughter relationships and how they work…until they don’t.” —PureWow
“Engrossing…Ng’s characters are authentic and complex, but it’s her confident narration that will invite readers to settle in for the ride—a storyteller who knows what she's doing is at the wheel…With each revelation, Little Fires Everywhere grows more propulsive and insightful, boring through the placid surface of American suburbia.” —Dallas Morning News
“Ng has one-upped herself with her tremendous follow-up novel… a finely wrought meditation on the nature of motherhood, the dangers of privilege and a cautionary tale about how even the tiniest of secrets can rip families apart… Ng is a master at pushing us to look at our personal and societal flaws in the face and see them with new eyes… If “Little Fires Everywhere” doesn’t give you pause and help you think differently about humanity and this country’s current state of affairs, start over from the beginning and read the book again.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“The truth is messy for everyone in Little Fires Everywhere. As she did so well in Everything I Never Told You, Ng crafts sympathetic backstories for the characters that make their decisions understandable if not entirely acceptable. She also creates layered portraits, especially of the girls and women, to raise questions about what mothers can give and what their children need when no one can stick to the rules.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Ng’s talent for depth of story and character development shines and will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Immersive and thought-provoking…Hang on and prepare to be mesmerized as you meet two families in idyllic Shaker Heights, Ohio.” —The Missourian
“A haunting, layered story of mothers and daughters, and how they attract and repel each other.” – Seattle Times
“A multilayered, tightly focused and expertly plotted narrative…A deeply impressive novel with the power to provoke and entrance.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“One of the best novels of the fall is an emotional tale about motherhood, class and so much more… Everything I Never Told You, was good, but this is better.” —AARP.org
“Mesmerizing…The result is a deftly woven plot that examines a multitude of issues, including class, wealth, artistic vision, abortion, race, prejudice and cultural privilege.” —BookPage
“Ng’s best-selling first novel Everything I Never Told You proved her deft hand at crafting family dramas with the deep-rooted tension of a thriller, a skill she puts to pitch-perfect effect in her latest entry…that is equal parts simmering and soulful.” —HarpersBazaar.com
“A quiet but powerful look at family, secrets, and running from the past. Once again, Ng has delivered a near-perfect novel.” —BookRiot
“An intricate and captivating portrait of an eerily perfect suburban town with its dark undertones not-quite-hidden from view and a powerful and suspenseful novel about motherhood…Ng explores the complexities of adoption, surrogacy, abortion, privacy, and class, questioning all the while who earns, who claims, and who loses the right to be called a mother…an impressive accomplishment.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Ng’s stunning second novel is a multilayered examination of how identities are forged and maintained, how families are formed and friendships tested, and how the notion of motherhood is far more fluid than bloodlines would suggest…[A] tour de force.”—Booklist (starred review)
“This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright… As in Everything I Never Told You, Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see—and reveal—a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect—like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno—is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege. With her second novel, Ng further proves she's a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Spectacular sophomore work...a magnificent, multilayered epic that’s perfect for eager readers and destined for major award lists." -- Library Journal (starred review)
"Little Fires Everywhere takes us deep into other people's homes and lives and darkest corners. Along the way, Celeste Ng is always witty, engrossing, unsparing and original." —Meg Wolitzer
"Little Fires Everywhere is a dazzlingly protean work - a comedy of manners that doubles as a social novel and reads like a thriller. By turns wry, heart-rending and gimlet-eyed, it confirms Celeste Ng's genius for gripping literary fiction." —Peter Ho Davies, author of The Fortunes
"As if it wasn't totally obvious from her stunning first novel, Little Fires Everywhere showcases what makes Celeste Ng such a masterful writer. The way she examines the complexity of place, and the people who inhabit that place, is some of the most virtuosic, compelling, and wise storytelling that I've seen in a long time. By looking so closely at this community, she opens up the entire world, and it's an amazing experience." —Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang and Perfect Little World
"Yes, it's the story of one Ohio town, but Little Fires Everywhere is not that familiar tale of the underside of the American suburb. It's a powerful work about parenthood and politics, adolescent strife and artistic ambition, and the stark choice between conformity and community. Celeste Ng possesses the remarkable ability to write about the most serious of subjects with the lightest possible touch." —Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty
"I cracked open this book mid-morning and did not even move again until it was time to turn on a light. What a joy it was to be so thoroughly taken, to let the chores and clocks and even my own breathing stop while I raced through these pages. Celeste Ng once again proves she is a force to be reckoned with. Little Fires Everywhere is a deft, smoldering masterpiece." —Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
"As I read Celeste Ng's second novel I found myself thinking, again and again: how does she know so much? About all of us? How does she write with such perception, such marvelous grace, such daring and generosity? Little Fires Everywhere has the irresistible pace of an expertly tuned thriller, and the observational brilliance of lasting literature. It marks Celeste Ng as a writer of the first rank, among the very best in her generation - right there with Zadie Smith and Jacqueline Woodson. I was mad for this book." —Joe Hill, author of The Fireman and Heart-Shaped Box
“I was fascinated, not to mention worried about, and frightened of and for, these intriguing characters. Celeste Ng is a powerful and poignant writer whose attention to detail is pitch-perfect. Her intuitive rendering of how and why people behave in such unflattering ways is important. Her writing is honest and rich--and I love how little fires spread here until they're put out.” —Terry McMillan, author of I Almost Forgot About You
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An easy read but not a lot of depth or nuance. This book is a bit like Big Little Lies, but not as well written and the characters/stories not as artfully developed.
I am not even going to go into specific details about the book because I do not want to spoil it a bit for anyone—you just need to read it.
I will say that between 20-100 pages, it was a little slow to read because there is A LOT of character building and detail BUT that pays off and it is necessary to the story and everything just falls into place.
When you read this book, you are watching a story unfold and it’s thrilling and exciting. It’s such a great book. The storyline is excellent , it’s very detailed and it’s very well written. When the book ended, I wanted to read more but it was like...this just has to be how the STORY ends.
I highly recommend this book.
Top international reviews
The story is exquisitely told, unfolding with tantalizing slowness. It’s disquieting and addictive, unutterably sad, and it haunts you long after you turn the final page. Ng’s characters rise up from the pages, facet by facet, intricately formed; recognizable but so much more than bland stereotypes.
Elena Richardson, journalist and mother of four, lives her perfect, black and white life. Obsessed by rules and order, she is controlling, self-righteous, judgmental and interfering. Her youngest daughter, 14 year-old Izzy, is the antithesis of everything Elena holds dear. Willful and impulsive, Izzy exudes a restless energy that Elena finds infuriating and confounding — she’s the proverbial cuckoo in the nest.
Single mum and photographic artist, Mia, is the Richardson’s new tenant, and to Izzy, everything her mother is not: vibrant, passionate, spontaneous — and she doesn’t judge. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Mia takes Izzy under her wing and feeds her hunger for photography.
When Elena and Mia find themselves on opposite sides of a moral dilemma, Elena starts digging into Mia’s past. The secrets she uncovers unleash a series of events that culminate in a moment of devastating, life-changing clarity for Elena.
Ng’s messaging is both incisive and powerful. A neat, monochrome world may be some people’s idea of perfection, but what is life without colour? Without those flares of passion and excitement, of spontaneity? This is a book all mothers should read; the little fires in our children should be fanned, not quenched.
Thanks for reading my review. I hope you found it helpful. You can find more candid book reviews on my Amazon profile page.
Strongest elements of the book for me related to Mia’s backstory and her passion for photography. The descriptions of the portraits left for the Richardson family (given towards the close of the book) encapsulate the thought processes behind the images created for each of them, and I loved how for Mia “some pictures belong to the person who took them. And some belong to the person inside them.”
Celeste Ng has a wonderful ability to make the reader imagine the future story line for some of these characters too with subtle references given to events and thoughts of key characters in a future timeline. So although the ending does seem a little open ended, all the answers are there in the book. As the author herself states on goodreads.com “Everything I know about the characters in Little Fires Everywhere is in the book” yet doesn’t dismiss the idea of a possible sequel. Great book😊
Das Erstaunliche an diesem Roman ist jedoch nicht sein Ende – in der Trivialliteratur brennen Burgen, Schlösser und Herrenhäuser mindestens seit Daphne du Mauriers Rebecca zu tausenden ab -, sondern die Bewertung dieser Konflagration durch die Autorin. Die sagt nämlich: das geschieht den Richardsons recht. Wer so strukturiert, wohlhabend, bürgerlich, arbeitsam und philanthropisch-wohlmeinend ist wie Helena Richardson, ihr Mann und ihre vier Kinder; wer vier dicke Autos besitzt und noch dazu einen Aufsitzmäher, eine Schneefräse und ein Riesenhaus mit Dreifachgarage hat – der hat es verdient, unterzugehen.
Dies ist das Fazit einer Geschichte, die 1998 spielt und damit beginnt, daß Helena Richardson der alleinerziehenden Mia, von Beruf Künstlerin und alleinerziehende Mutter der fünfzehnjährigen Pearl, eine Doppelhaushälfte günstig vermietet, weil sie auf ihre freundliche, aber penetrante Art der mittellosen Mia helfen will. Die beiden Familien kommen sich daraufhin außerordentlich nahe. Mia beginnt bei den Richardsons zu putzen und ihre Tochter freundet sich mit einem der Richardson-Söhne an. Eine Zeitlang sieht es so aus, als würde eine privilegierte Familie einer weniger privilegierten aus reinem Altruismus unter die Arme greifen, was für alle gut ist. Aber der schöne Schein trügt.
Die spätere Katastrophe beginnt vollkommen harmlos: Helena Richardsons beste Freundin Linda – ebenfalls weiß, ebenfalls wohlhabend und genauso hyperordentlich, aber weniger fruchtbar – adoptiert ein chinesisches Baby, das in Cleveland ausgesetzt wurde. Aber Lindas Mutterglück währt nur kurz, denn Bebe, die chinesische Mutter des Kindes, taucht plötzlich auf und reklamiert ihr Kind für sich. Dahinter steckt nun ausgerechnet Mia an, was Mrs. Richardson erzürnt und sie anstachelt, Mias ohnehin verdächtige Vergangenheit genauer unter die Lupe zu nehmen. Und sie wird fündig: Mia, stellt sich heraus, hat einst gegen gute Bezahlung als Leihmutter für eine reiche Bankers-Familie fungiert, das Kind auch ausgetragen, es dann aber dem Banker und seiner unfruchtbaren Frau nie übergeben, sondern selber aufgezogen. Das weiß aber keiner, auch Mias Tochter Pearl nicht, der von ihrer Mutter sowieso dauernd erklärt wird, daß Väter nicht wichtig seien.
Als eine der Richardson-Töchter mit sechzehn ungewollt schwanger wird und das Kind mit Pearls Unterstützung und Mias rührendem Verständnis abtreibt und dann auch noch Mr. Richardson, ein Anwalt, die Adoptivmutter des chinesischen Babys gegen ihre leiblichen Mutter vor Gericht vertritt und gewinnt, beginnt die Katharsis. Mrs. Richardson konfrontiert Mia mit deren Vergangenheit und schmeißt sie aus der Wohnung, muß dabei aber erfahren, daß die eigene behütete Tochter mit Mias Ermutigung heimlich abgetrieben hat, während die anderen Kinder der Richardsons wegen des Adoptionsprozesses Stellung gegen den eigenen Vater beziehen, den sie einen "Kinderräuber" nennen. Und jetzt geht alles ganz schnell: Mia und ihre Tochter flüchten aus Cleveland, während die jüngste Tochter der Richardsons das Elternhaus anzündet und danach auf Nimmerwiedersehen verschwindet.
So weit, so trivial, könnte man sagen. Wäre da nicht der erstaunliche und durchaus ungewöhnliche Unterton, der sich durch das ganze Buch zieht und dem Leser sagt: Das normale, bürgerliche, wohlgeordnete Leben amerikanischer Vorzeigebürger ist es wert, zu Asche zu werden. Alles in diesem Buch ist besser als das Leben der Richardsons, das, daran läßt die Autorin keinen Zweifel, eine verlogene, böse, trostlose Charade darstellt.
Mia, die kein Geld, keine Möbel und keine Anstellung hat, Männer haßt, mit ihren Eltern seit Jahrzehnten kein Wort redet, ihre Tochter über deren Herkunft stets im Unklaren läßt, weil Männer vielleicht als biologische Samenspender, nicht aber als Väter wichtig seien, ist besser als die Richardsons. Bebe, die chinesische Mutter, die weder Beruf noch Geld noch einen Mann noch eine Zukunft besitzt und ihr Kind mitten im Winter an der Feuerwache von Cleveland ausgesetzt hat, ist ebenfalls besser als jede gutbetuchte amerikanische Adoptiv-Mutter, weil Kinder zwar keine Väter, wohl aber die biologische Mutter brauchen. Und bei einer chinesischen Mutter spielt nun genau das, was bei weißen Amerikanern doch so total verpönt ist, nämlich Herkunft, Ethnie und Geschichte, sprich die kulturelle Identität, eine zentrale Rolle, welche rechtfertigt, daß die Chinesin ihr Kind bei Nacht und Nebel aus dem Haus seiner Adaptiv-Eltern holt und mit dem nach China entschwindet - obwohl ihr fünf Minuten davor noch das Geld für ein warmes Essen abging.
Ebenso wichtig wie die Ablehnung bourgeoiser Wohlanständigkeit ist in diesem Buch die Befürwortung von Teenie-Promiskuität und der lockere, absolut entspannte Umgang mit der Abtreibung. Die Kinder der Richardsons sind, obwohl noch auf der High-School und damit jünger als achtzehn, alle sexuell bereits ganz schwer am Machen. Als die sechzehnjährige Lexie von ihrem schwarzen Freund - aus selbstverständlich bester Familie - schwanger wird, ist der mit einfühlsamer Detailfreude geschilderte Besuch in der Abtreibungs-Klinik eine organisatorische und ethische Lappalie, nicht problematischer als eine Zahnreinigung. Bei Bauchschmerzen am Folgetag hilft Mia mit Kräutertee.
Feminismus, Antikapitalismus und der Haß auf das weiße, republikanische Amerika sind also in der Unterhaltungsliteratur angekommen. Die Ideen, die Celeste NG hier in Romanform verkündet und von einem klebrigen allwissen Erzähler, der dem Leser verbindlich sagt, was der zu denken hat, vortragen läßt, sind uralt. Sie stammen aus den sechziger Jahren des letzten Jahrhunderts, aus der Frauenbewegung und dem Populär-Marxismus. Daß diese Ideen irgendwann den Weg in die Trivialliteratur finden würden, war klar, denn sie dominieren Politik, Journalismus und den liberalen gesellschaftlichen Diskurs seit Jahren. Ebenso klar ist, daß kein Mensch im echten Leben das prekäre, halt- und bindungslose Leben Mias oder gar Bebes führen will. Aber Literatur und Leben waren ja noch nie das gleiche.
more than her first book.
it follows several chaacter in Shaker heights that are middle class upper-middle
class and have a certain set of view and hegemonic ideas, which is distrubed by the arrival of our
two new characters. this really are incredible and i enjoyed the book. i would
have liked a different ending or a more filled out ending that would have been much better in
my opinion but other than that i loved it.
by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a well crafted novel with vivid characters. Multi-faceted, well paced and sensitive with layered themes, it deals with themes of identity, motherhood, secrets and artistic ambition.
The opening ‘prologue’ tells us of a fire at the home of the Richardson’s, started deliberately by laying ‘little fires everywhere’ throughout the house. The youngest Richardson daughter, Izzy is suspected by her siblings, because she is the ‘crazy’ sister and also because she is missing.
The Richardsons live in Middle-class, Midwestern suburbia in an ordered and planned community. Mia, a single mother, and her daughter, Pearl provide the tension between this bastion of conformity and the rebellious lifestyle of the pair, who seem to move on a whim and always remain on the fringes of society. They arrive and rent the top floor of a house owned by Mrs Richardson. Pearl makes friends with the Richardson children and becomes a frequent visitor at their home. Mia finds part time work at a local Chinese restaurant whilst devoting her free time to her artistic pursuits, as an innovative photographer.
Mrs Richardson’s friend adopts a baby after years of frustration and sadness over her own inability to carry a child. Found abandoned, the baby is the daughter of a Chinese woman working at the same restaurant as Mia. She discovers that her friend, Bebe left her child in a fire station, because of poverty and post-partum depression and has been searching desperately for her ever since. Mia makes the connection and encourages her to reclaim her daughter.
The dynamics between the characters are plausible. Empathetic and interesting, their different ‘voices’ are heard throughout the book. The females are particularly strong, well defined characters.
I enjoyed this book so much that the first thing I did on finishing it was to buy Celeste Ng’s first book ‘Everything I Never Told You’ which I devoured with the same speed and fascination. I look forward to further books by Celeste Ng.
Having said that, I felt this book had soo much potential that it simply didn’t reach. So much time is spent setting the scene, telling us about the characters and I was expecting this to lead to some big development but that just didn’t happen.
I’m baffled at the reception this book had. For me, I needed more to happen towards the end. I sensed a big drama was going to unfold and it just didn’t.
It’s a shame as I was looking forward to reading it and I saw the author being interviewed on tv. She came across wonderfully I really warmed to her but I was just disappointed with this book.
In Shaker Heights everything is just so. The houses look a certain way, there are rules about how your grass should look and people are expected to act in a certain way. If you’ve been brought up living there, it just feels like the “norm”; after all everyone is kind, friendly and sensible. But when out-of-towners, Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive, their energy begins to distort the town’s.
Now for Pearl, she just wants to fit in and she immerses herself into the Richardson’s family home: becoming close friends with Moody and Lexie, having a crush on Trip and being curious about Izzy. Mia, however, sees the real ‘Izzy’ and begins to share advice with her; Izzy is overjoyed that someone finally gets her. I could go on about these characters for a while, as it’s clear from early on that Ng has great skill in creating characters which fully suit her story; they match the plot with their complexity, hidden thoughts and their uniqueness – they had such an alluring effect on me drawing me further into this story.
I was perfectly happy to just explore the dynamics of the Richardsons and the Warrens, but Ng shifts it up a gear by adding a new subject matter that really intensifies the characters’ true personalities. The Richardson’s friends are in the process of adopting a Chinese-American baby that was left abandoned. After having her for a year, the Chinese mother now wants the baby back. Who’s side are you on? The McCullough’s will be able to provide her with the best start in life but is biology and heritage more important?
The town becomes divided and cracks begin to show, just as the side stories come to the surface, revealing secrets and lies.
Without spoiling the plot, I’ll just say Mrs Richardson’s research added a fascinating dimension to this story and I loved how Ng joined the dots for this particular subplot. What was so interesting about it, was the fact it showed the contradictions that a person can show in their personality on what seem to be similar topics.
A deeply absorbing book from a very skilled writer, and with ‘a little bit of everything’ when it comes to topics explored, it’s a book that many will enjoy!