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Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Rachel Saylor


Little Fires Everywhere inserts us into a progressive community structured around rigid rules and regulations in the 90’s called Shaker Heights. The community located in Cleveland is real, and author, Celeste Ng, actually grew up there. A mother-daughter combo Mia and Pearl land in Shaker to stay put after over a decade of vagabonding around the U.S. Their unconventional lifestyle both intrigues the young, impressionable teens of the Richardson family, while ruffling the feathers of the Richardson’s mom. 

Ng pushes you to think about the roots and beliefs in which you grew up and if you hold onto those ideals because you believe it to be the right way to live or merely because it’s what you were taught. She uncovers all of the different facets of what it means and feels like to become a mother. The characters struggle with constant judgement, revealing there is no black and white way about motherhood nor the decisions we make, but rather, a lot of grey space. The way a woman enters motherhood through surrogacy, adoption, or giving natural birth and then the decisions that mothers make as to how they will raise their children are all topics explored throughout Little Fires Everywhere. 

Ng brilliantly depicts what it is like to be human. She shows that no person is the perfect protagonist, making all of the right decisions, but rather everyone lives somewhere in the grey area. Some decisions made are questionable, others less so, but we as humans have to make decisions, we just have to carry them with us after we do so. Sometimes, our decisions lead to little fires that can cause harm, but then there can sprout some of the most beautiful growth from that. Ng asks: what will you do about your situation that you find yourself in now?  

Two Years of Writing

Rachel Saylor


Writing is a passion I discovered after I went to college for Psychology, after I’d been working in a steady job in the social work field for a couple of years, and after I’d thought I already understood the course of my career path. It is not something I was born knowing I was destined to do. It was not what I studied in school. In fact, it was something I believed I was pretty bad at. These facts intimidated me when I jumped into the unknown. On better days I say, "To hell with facts!" On bad days, thoughts crop up and tell me I’m in over my head. 

I’ve been writing for two years now. For 1½ years I was still working my full time job in the social work field, and the last half year I’ve been traveling like crazy. Growth is inevitable when you consistently practice your craft. I’ve been able to look back on when meek Rachel began this journey and seen how much that growth is evident for me. I’m a firm believer that stagnation = death, and just because I’ve made leaps and bounds these past couple of years, I expect to make a whole hell of a lot more in the years to come. 

How did I grow? I practiced all the time. I wrote on my blog. I wrote things I never showed others. I wrote with alcohol, coffee, tea. I wrote early in the mornings, afternoons, evenings, in the middle of the night. I tested when I was best at my writing, (mornings seem to test the best). I wrote a nonfiction short and had people read and critique it. I met people in-person to go over their critiques and I edited and edited. I typed my short out on a typewriter, one click at a time and installed the piece in an old mailbox where the story I wrote took place. I made a writing group. I participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge and wrote my first novel. I’ve been editing the shit out of that novel. I got an incredible editor for my novel. I sent out work to get published. I got rejected. I talked with people about my writing - anyone who would listen. I met authors. I reached out. I put myself out there. I wrote more. I asked for more feedback from others. I pushed past the fear of feeling like my work sucks and still asked people to read my work. I asked questions. I reached out to others. I started a second novel. 

With each new step, confidence is sure to get closer on your heels. Even if one conversation was awkward as hell or a piece of writing was total rubbish, I’m growing as I make a point to plow ahead. Do I still have a long road ahead? Hell yes I do, but it feels so good to take the time to look back and see that my hard work has paid off in becoming a better and more confident writer. 

Wherever you are at in your journey of developing the skills and confidence in your passion, I hope you can feel encouraged to continue to put your heart and soul into it, knowing it’ll pay off, perhaps slowly but it will definitely happen. 

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Rachel Saylor


William Faulkner can be found on many "top authors to read" lists. There is, in fact, a reason for this. Not only is Faulkner brilliant, he went against the normal way of writing a novel for his time. Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying through 15 different perspectives, using their stream of consciousness'.

Will you be daunted at following all of his details and wording at times? Most likely, unless you're a genius too. This book will take your extreme attention and focus. However, about half way through, you'll find the rhythm and the character's strange individual behaviors will start to make more sense. Either that or maybe you'll just accept their eccentricities better half way through.  

As I Lay Dying is a story of a rural Mississippi family with secrets and complex relationships. Through their mother's death and their trek to take her 40 miles on mules and buggy to where she wished to be buried as her last dying wish, secrets begin to unravel. Faulkner shows you just how rural and stubborn this family is and how unwell towns people take to them. At times, you'll find yourself holding your nose so as not to smell the stench of their decaying mother that they haul into each new town they cross. 

Reading books that take you out of your comfort zone or stretch your mind of understanding, can only help you learn and become a better reader. Take a chance on As I Lay Dying and broaden your horizons through Faulkner's lens.