The Pel Mel

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Fiona Joffroy, Junior, Co-Web Editor

Shaker Heights, Ohio is the epitome of suburbia; everything in the town has been planned down to the color one can paint their house, and there are only three types of houses one can own: French, English, or Tudor. Enter Mia and Pearl Warren, the eccentric and fearless mother -daughter duo who move to Shaker Heights and become tenants of a property owned by the Richardson family. The Richardsons embody Shaker Heights: organized schedules, a lush green lawn, and four involved children. Soon after Mia and Pearl move into the rental house, they instantly bond with the Richardson family; Pearl becomes friendly with the Richardson kids, and connects with a family that has been raised very differently. Prior to moving to Shaker Heights, Mia and Pearl were moving every few months, spreading their “little fire” everywhere, but Mia ensures it will be different this time, and Pearl will finally have the chance to stay put.

Celeste Ng’s novel, Little Fires Everywhere, tells the tale of how two wildly different families are brought together, and how they are eventually torn apart. In her novel, the secrets from both families are revealed, and the utopian lifestyle the Richardsons live in soon becomes less desirable. Any Pelham reader will find Little Fires Everywhere instantly relatable. In the community, everyone knows everyone, and kids walk to school each morning. The kids in the Shaker Heights high school are enrolled in rigorous college-preparatory classes, are members of the varsity sports teams, and act in the school play.

The enticing nature of Ng’s novel is founded in the dynamic characters. As Pearl gets closer with the Richardson kids ,they develop their distinct perspectives on the local custody battle. An affluent, white couple who, after suffering several miscarriages, are almost finished with the adoption process of an abandoned Chinese baby who was left at the local fire department by her birth mother, Bebe. The custody battle that erupts inside Little Fires Everywhere once again illustrates the stark difference between conformity and freedom. Ng illustrates this complex challenge in many ways using both comic and realistic diction. The story illuminates a set of engaging questions for any reader: How do we continue to spread our own fire everywhere?

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The School Newspaper of Pelham Memorial High School
Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere