The Richardson house has burned down. Izzy, the youngest of the four Richardson teenagers, is missing and responsible. But this isn’t Izzy’s story. This story is about the Richardsons, but it’s also about the Warrens, and the McCulloghs, and the Wrights. It’s about how dangerous and harmful it can be when we stay in our comfort zones, minding our own business. It’s about whether or not following the rules will get you where you need to go.
There was a lot happening in this book. There were lots of flashbacks, and we saw the story unfold from at least ten different perspectives. I loved how big the scope of the story was. I loved how carefully Celeste Ng unwrapped each layer, presenting it to the reader like a meticulously planned 6 course meal.
That being said, I struggled to get through this book. The story was interesting, and the characters were fascinating, but I rarely felt compelled to pick the book back up after I put it down. I didn’t want to spend my time with most of these characters, because the majority of them were astoundingly self-absorbed and infuriatingly obtuse.
I still want to talk about this book, though. It looks at so many fascinating topics: motherhood, surrogacy and adoption, racism, classism, community planning, the value of art, materialism, adolescent sexuality…I feel like so many conversations can be rooted in this text. Even though I had to push myself to get through this book, I am very glad that I read it.
Little Fires Everywhere is not meant to be devoured in one sitting. It is best experienced slowly, and carefully thought about. While not fast-paced or action-packed, the characters will root themselves in your subconscious, and they’ll stick around for a while.