So…here’s another book that I picked up because it seemed I was seeing it every day on my Instagram feed. I feel like it’s always a dangerous way to start a book because my expectations are built up even before I know what the book is about.
Little Fires Everywhere mostly follows the lives of the Richardson Family. Living in Shaker Heights, where everything is carefully planned out, and for the most part conforming to the expectations of the society they live in. Until Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl move in to the Richardson’s rental house and unknowingly shake things up for the Richardson Family. The ‘action’ centres around a custody battle that erupts around one of Mrs Richardson’s friends, who found a baby and has given it a good home, but whose mother (a colleague of Mia Warren) is now back on her feet and wants her daughter back. (Read the full blurb here)
I’ll admit that this book didn’t grip me as I expected it would (probably hinted at by the fact it took me 2 weeks to read it). That said, the action didn’t really start until maybe halfway through the book and from there I was fully invested in what was happening in the story.
But more than the story, this book turned out to be a perfect ‘slice of life’ type story. Almost every character is fleshed out, given an interesting background or clear motives. None of them are black and white characters, and I love that Ng lets us see this so clearly. She does a fantastic job of making us realise that no decision made in the book – whether it’s how the children interact with each other, how the lawyers and public feel about the custody battle and whose side they take, or even how the judge deliberates over it – is made lightly because there is always, always, a grey area. To me, this is an almost perfect representation of life and I enjoyed how relateable these characters were when questioning themselves (or others).
By the end, I’ll admit, I was hooked. Every character was interesting to me, and I could never fully get on board with anybody’s “side” in any of the conflicts. This is largely credit to Ng’s ability to make you understand why people thought and acted the way they did, and the part of their history that led them to the beliefs they held.
I think if I re-read the book I’d enjoy the start more, however it felt like a lot of set-up before the action of the custody battle began. Granted, that could be why I ended up enjoying the last chapters more, I’m not sure, but at the time they didn’t make me overly keen to pick the book back up. I’m glad I saw the book through to the finish though.
Rating: If you’re a fan of contemporary adult fiction and don’t mind a slower start to a book, definitely pick this up and give it a go!
You can buy the book here.
If you’ve read this book I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below! Since posting about it on the ‘gram I’ve heard mixed reviews – some people loved it and some people thought it missed the mark. ♥