I really liked Little Fires Everywhere. Opening with a fire in the Richardsons’ home, this book delves into the past to tell the story of the complicated reasons why one of the main characters and the black sheep of the family, Izzy Richardson, set her family home ablaze. “Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”
The main theme of this book is what makes a mother a mother? Blood alone or love? The author carries this theme through 3 main storylines (which I will not divulge as it would spoil the overall story).
At the center of the book are two families, the Warrens and the Richardsons, and more precisely the juxtaposition between the matriarch of each family, Mia Warren and Elena Richardson. “One had followed the rules, and one had not. But the problem with rules… was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time they were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure what side of the line you stood on.”
Mia Warren, an artist, and her daughter Pearl, decided to end their nomadic existence in Shaker Height Ohio, a planned suburban community. They rent an apartment from the Richardsons, who have 4 children of their own. Thinking that she will not have to move around anymore, Pearl allows herself to finally make friends, and befriends each of the Richardson children — their relationships blossom in different ways, and are fraught with all the complications of teenage relationships.
This book is centered around the relationship between the Warrens and Richardsons and is told through many interwoven and sometimes complicated threads. The story also touches on themes of race, white privilege, motherhood, and family secrets.
I was particularly moved by the back story of the Chinese immigrant who abandoned her child in a misguided attempt to give the baby away for adoption, only to regret the choice and fight for the baby’s return. The Court case centered on whether it was in the best interests of the child to be adopted by a privileged family (mother + father with good jobs), or the biological, single, mother, who struggled to make ends meat.
As Eleanor Henderson writes for the New York Times: “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. Who set the little fires everywhere? We keep reading to find out, even as we suspect that it could be us with ash on our hands.”
Check out this book on Goodreads: Little Fires Everywhere http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34273236-little-fires-everywhere