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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?