One More Chapter: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Thank you for joining me on this bookish jaunt! "One More Chapter" is the name I decided to give to my book review feature that used to be called "Bookworm Beat." After being so lazy about it, I'm happy to finally be getting into a good habit of reading once again and I'm really looking forward to sharing certain selections with you! One More Chapter will be devoted to reviews of a single book, whereas "Bookworm Beat" will likely be a quick summary of what else I've been reading lately. If you ever have any recommendations for more books or comments on the one currently being reviewed, please share! I LOVE talking all things books with ANYONE, so bring it on!!

The first selection I'm going with is "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng. This book is the sophomore release by Ng, author of "Everything I Never Told You." I haven't read her debut title yet even though I own it, but after reading "Little Fires Everywhere" I think I'm going to have to move it up on my TBR list!

"Little Fires Everywhere" was published in September of this year and was a Book of the Month choice for that month. As a BotM member, I didn't choose this particular title and has a major case of buyer's remorse once I heard of the praise this book was getting (for the record, I chose "The Power" by Naomi Alderman). I snatched it up from Target as soon as I could and raced through it in less than two days, so I hope that gives some insight as to what I think of this book. I'm not a particularly slow reader, but I seem to get distracted by other things in life (I'm sure everyone can relate to that!) and so I will often set a book down for days at a time before coming back to it. This book, however, got to be too intriguing to step away from for too long.

Let me give you a quick rundown without spoiling anything. This novel is set in Shaker Heights, a ritzy suburban community in Ohio where order and presentation is everything to everyone. Or almost everyone. The Richardsons are one of the wealthy, well-respected families in the city who have always had it easy and predictable. Elena and Bill Richardsoon and their children--Tripp, Lexie, Moody, and Izzy--haven't had to deal with much drama in their lives...that is, until Mia and Pearl Warren move into the neighborhood. Mrs. Richardson, who has a home she rents out as a gesture of self-important goodwill, takes Mia and Pearl on as tenants. Mia, a photographer and single mother to Pearl, lived an itinerant life since Pearl was born but made the decision to settle down in Shaker Heights indefinitely. After all, Shaker Heights is the model of idyllic living, right?

Pretty soon, all four Richardson children and both parents become entangled with the Warren duo, especially after a custody battle has Mrs. Richardson and Mia on opposite sides of the issue. Things spiral as secrets surface and we quickly learn that all actions have a ripple effect. Mia's mysterious past (Where did she come from? Who is Pearl's father??) and Elena Richardson's seemingly stable and perfect life crash into each other, leaving a lot of pain, confusion, and answers in their wake. The true nature of these people begins to show underneath the crumbling facade they have tried so hard to maintain. By the end of the book, everything is to intertwined that you can't help but praise Ng's storytelling and ability to think out a plot like this without making it too convoluted.

The title of this book is so appropriate, with references to fire, cleansing, etc scattered throughout. The theme is clear here and as a reader, you realize just how much everyone is keeping within themselves to keep up appearances. At some point, everyone breaks and sometimes the only way to recover is by burning it all down. Which, by the way, is exactly what happens at the very beginning of the book.

The writing, I thought, was very good, particularly with the characters. I found myself gritting my teeth as all of the misunderstandings, miscommunication, and mistakes being made that just compounded on themselves until they reached a point where there was no turning back. Interestingly enough, the one character whose perspective we really didn't get all that much was Mr. Richardson, and his involvement in the plot was honestly a little irrelevant. I didn't mind this, however, because there was already so much going on with so many strings criss-crossing in the plot.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I found myself ripping through the chapters, at times having a pretty good idea of what I would find next but still managing to be surprised by the way the details came out. This was also one of the few books I have recently finished where the ending seemed satisfying to me. A little symbolic maybe, but pretty much a resolution that made me feel okay with how everything wrapped up. I'm sitting here still wondering about Izzy...

If you have read this book, please let me know what you thought! And stay tuned for the next edition of One More Chapter.

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