From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.
In Shaker Heights, a placid,...Read More
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother - who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town - and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood - and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.
Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio. She graduated from Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, was a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the ALA's Alex Award. Little Fires Everywhere, Ng's second novel, was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the Ohioana Book Award, and named a best book of the year by over twenty-five publications. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages and she was the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"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
"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
"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
"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