A review on The Little fires Everywhere

*spoiler warning


Alyssa Durkin

the book “little fires everywhere” by Celeste Ng

The novel  Little Fires Everywhere focuses on motherhood, racism, and privilege. The main character, Pearl Warren, and her mother, Mia Warren, have moved around everywhere and never settled down. Eventually, they move to a small town called Shaker Heights. Mia promises Pearl that they won’t get up and leave… but Mia, Pearl’s mother, has a very secretive past. 

Pearl starts to make herself at home in Shaker Heights and makes a new friend, Moody Richardson. Moody is part of the Richardson family, a wealthy family with a lot of money and power. The Richardson family is made up of Moody, Trip, Lexie, Izzy, Elena, and Bill.

Izzy is seen as the black sheep of the family and always getting on Elena and Bill’s nerves, who are the four kids’ mothers and fathers. Izzy sees herself as different from the rest of her family and when Mia and Pearl come in she starts to develop a fondness for Mia after Elena hires her as their housekeeper. Izzy starts to follow Mia around and takes interest in Mia’s art. 

Elena, a journalist, starts to question Pearl about where her father is. She finds it very strange that Pearl does not know anything about her father or even her mother’s family. With Elena being a journalist and having access to an assortment of records, she tries to uncover Mia’s past. 

Mia has always noticed Elena’s suspicion of her even though Elena tries to hide it with sweet gestures and open arms in her home. Elena digs deeper into Mia’s past and finds out why she’s been on the run. 

The prose of the book is amazing and Ng is a very talented writer the way she pits the characters against each other and has a rivalry against each other but in the end, they are more similar than they think they are. 

In the novel, Ng covered the topic of race and used one of the characters, Bebe, an immigrant from China who abandoned her child out of hope she would be better without her but in the end, fights in a court case against her back. She does a great job with Bebe’s character and shows how there is stigma around immigrants and especially when they’re mothers. 

With Izzy being stubborn and portrayed to be the rebel of the family, you can easily fall in love with the different aspects of the characters. One example of this is when Izzy gets mad at her orchestra teacher and breaks her bow. The reason Izzy had done this was that she was sticking up for a student. I think it was hard for other characters to relate to Izzy because she was creative and didn’t like the close-minded ideas of Shaker Heights. Ng does a perfect job of showing Izzy’s wild streak, her charismatic personality, and her compassion for others.  

This book did a beautiful job representing motherhood and discussing the issue of race. Celeste Ng focuses on the main topic of how mothers will go to wit ends to protect their children. Mia moved Pearl around to protect her from her past. Bebe fought in court to get May Ling back and tried to do everything, and you can look at the opposite side of the court case Linda wanted May Ling and loved May Ling. 

Even with Izzy’s stubbornness Elena still loves her very much, and the book described how she had always worried about Izzy. Even when Izzy was born she was sick, and Cheletse Ng talked about how Elena felt Izzy had always worried about her and how she was afraid to lose her. As Izzy got older she rebelled more against Elena and Elena began to become more fearful of losing Izzy. 

One of the only critiques I have for the novel is I wish they would’ve shown more of the emotions and feelings of the characters towards certain situations and I feel like something the book was missing was communication among the characters.