Dear Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng:
You’ve been one of the most recommended books on my TBR ever since I watched and enjoyed Big Little Lies a few years ago. I had never read anything by Celeste Ng up until this point, and numerous other bookworms recommended you both for your gripping story and your fantastic writing. Needless to say, my expectations were already a little high when I first started listening to your audiobook.
I was hooked from the very beginning, with the aftermath of a fire set in the Richardson house. You reminded me of The Secret History by Donna Tartt in this way, another novel that begins with what is conventionally thought to be the “end” of the story (in that case, a murder). I knew the rest of the novel would be lead up to those initial moments, an explanation of why rather than what.
You were different from what I expected in many ways that I really enjoyed. Not only were you much more character-driven than plot-driven, but you also included a balance of teenage and adult perspectives. It’s difficult to say whether you would fall in the young adult genre or adult genre. In a way, I feel like it depends on the reader and which story line they personally relate to most. Although I’ve graduated college and am now in law school, reading about Izzy, Lexie, and Pearl’s struggles in high school brought me right back to my teenage years. Ng perfectly captures the awkwardness of being a teenager and not knowing what to do, how to act, and who to be in the future.
Along these same lines, it was also interesting to read about certain issues from the perspectives of different adults and teenagers. From race, class, motherhood, and even sex and abortions, you present the reader with multiple views on topics that aren’t often discussed so frankly and in such detail in novels like you. While you could certainly be categorized as a mystery or suspense novel, I think you could also be considered a contemporary novel about family dynamics and drama. You’re genre-defying in so many ways!
“It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?”Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Your story itself was engaging, gripping, and suspenseful. Your many story lines weaving in and out of each other kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. For each question answered you posed two more, making me reluctant to stop listening whenever I had to do work or something else that required my attention. As a law student, I was especially intrigued by and invested in the plot line involving the guardianship trial. I love reading novels that involve trials, but they can be a bit difficult to come by.
And yet, when it came time for your conclusion, I must admit that I was a bit disappointed. Perhaps it was because I had such high expectations going in or because you started with such a bang, but I was hoping for a bit more of a shock at your end. I suppose the surprises may have been intended to come along the way, and they certainly did; however, I still would have liked a bit more of a punch in the conclusion. You sort of fizzled out, leaving me wondering what I missed.
“Most of the time, everyone deserves more than one chance. We all do things we regret now and then. You just have to carry them with you.”Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Nevertheless, you are a poignant, gripping, thought-provoking, genre-defying novel, one brimming with unexpected twists along the way. I am so glad that I finally followed the recommendations of so many bookworms, and I can’t wait to read more by Celeste Ng.
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