“This is a terrific book, one of the best I have read all year. Ng is a terrific writer.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
This is a book I have wanted to read for a long time but never got around to. And I did start it a couple of times but it didn’t hold my attention then.
Having finally read it now, I have mixed feelings about it!
The writing is beautiful with respect to the setting of the characters within the location of Shaker Heights, a suburb where everything is orderly and planned and regular. This is a place where people live in the same or same kind of home for generations together and raise their children to have a decent education and livelihood. In short, it conforms to the ideal in many ways.
The Richardson family with their elegant house and four children are the perfect representation of this place. Mia Warren, their new tenant is the perfect antithesis!
Leading a nomadic existence of sorts with her fifteen yo daughter Pearl, moving from one place to another with only enough things to fit into her car, and stopping wherever inspiration strikes her, Mia is a photographer who takes unusual photos. She also happens to be very unconventional in everything including her approach to transgressions by teenagers.
Mia and Pearl get drawn into the Richardson family dynamics when Pearl becomes a friend of their children and hangs out with them.
When friends of Mrs Richardson want to adopt a Chinese American baby who was supposedly given up by her mother who now wants her back, the residents take sides and Mia and Mrs Richardson find themselves not of similar thinking on this issue.
The tone of the story all along is that Mia, as the unconventional one, is someone who is exciting and whose views in any situation are probably more up to date than those of the stuffy, conventional ( as the story implies) Elena Richardson. Though she never actually does anything unsupportive or wrong, the contrast is highlighted constantly. And this, in light of secrets from Mia’s past, jars, to be honest. It isn’t like those who are living ordered lives have no fun or prevent their children from enjoying their lives, but that is what is implied.
In all situations, Mia seems to be painted as the saviour and when the reason for the kind of life she leads is clear, this seems a tad unfair.
I also felt a lot of things in the plot were too convenient, even given the time period of the story. You tend to wonder why this or that didn’t happen and realize it is just assumed to take the story in a particular direction.
Underwhelmed by this one though the actual writing is beautiful.
Added 17th August 2019
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Just finished Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng this is the story of the Richardson family. A married couple with 2 boys and 2 girls.
The husband is a very successful attorney and the Mother is a news reporter. The kids are all in high school. They live in upscale Shaker Heights.
They will soon have a new tenant in one of their local rental properties, Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. Mia is a budding artist whose specialty is photography and Pearl is a brilliant girl who also goes to the same school as the Richardson’s kids.
The book actually begins with the event which will close the book, which is the Fire that will destroy the Richardson home. The fire will be set by Izzie, the youngest Richardson daughter. The real catalyst of the book however is the abandonment of a Chinese baby by her mother. The baby will be put into Foster care with the McCulluch family, who have bern trying for years to have a child of their own.
The McCulluchs are very good friends with the Richadsons’. This event will cause ripples like a window with a crack in it, slowly spreading until the window breaks. It will put the Richardsons’ and the Warrens’ in direct opposition to each other, and all the little fires that existed amongst the kids and their parents will explode like their home will.
This is a terrific book, one of the best I have read all year. Ng is a terrific writer.
A must read.
Added 19th November 2017