Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng
Published: September 12th 2017 by Penguin Press
Genre: Fiction, contemporary, adult
(Absolutely love the cover of this book!)
After reading Ng’s debut novel three years ago, I had high hopes for this one and still it exceeded all my expectations!
The story brings together a wealthy suburban family of six and their tenants, an artistic single mother and her daughter. From there anything can happen, and will happen as the very fitting title suggests as “little fires everywhere”. And the characters all seem good at starting little fires, and none are particularly good at putting any out.
It’s set in a time I’m very familiar with myself, which gave me a wonderful nostalgic trip. The children are all born in the 80’s so their teenage years has the same soundtrack as mine did. Set in a time before cell phones and internet rules everything, it’s more about getting to know the people around you, than it is googling them. It’s more about noticing your surroundings and talking to people than seeing it on social media.
It’s also a collage of mother – daughter relationships, their challenges and all that lies in between the most complex relationship on earth. That unconditional love, sacrifice, resentment and anger that lies on both sides of that.
“Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less.”
Ng writes characters so human, so layered and complex that you miss them after you’ve finished. She draws you in with a narrative that sets your mind and then slowly changes it and twists your mind into a grey area where you realize that the world isn’t just black and white and issues are never as easy as you want them to be. Life is complicated and it’s messy and we all just deal with it the only way we know how. And sometimes, that’s not always the best way, and sometimes you’ll never know.
I’ve read many good books this year, and this takes a spot right up there with the best of them. I’ll be having my ear to the ground for anything Celeste Ng does in the future, and if you haven’t already read her work, I’m a little jealous, cause you’re in for a treat!