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New from Celeste Ng: Little Fires Everywhere

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 3:32pm by eapearce

By now you've probably heard that Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You, has published her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere. Like Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere is focused on family intricacies. However, while her first book centered upon one family, Ng's latest work explores how two families become intertwined. Set in Shaker Heights, Ohio (an idyllic community that got its start as an envisioned utopia by its creator) in the 1990s, the book masterfully weaves together several storylines full of moral ambiguities. Single mother Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive in Shaker Heights in the summer, looking for a place to rent. Although most spaces are out of their price range, local landlady and prominent Shaker Heights resident Elena Richardson takes a liking to them and rents them the upper half of a duplex that she owns. Pearl quickly befriends the Richardson children, who are all about her age, and Mia, an artist, begins working as a housekeeper for the Richardsons to help make rent money. Readers know from the very beginning that this close relationship between landlords and tenants is a ticking time bomb; the book opens with the Richardsons' house in flames and Mia and Pearl leaving town in the dead of night. Still, we can't help but cheer for all of the characters in the book who--although all flawed in their own ways--are mostly kind-hearted. As the book goes on, Mrs. Richardson begins to dig into Mia and Pearl's past and all of the characters become involved in a local scandal--some intentionally and others by accident. Little Fires Everywhere, like Everything I Never Told You, showcases Ng's ability to create amazingly nuanced characters that tell a story that is thought-provoking in part because of its shocking believability. I did feel that this story wasn't quite as gut-wrenching as her first, mostly because the number of players in Little Fires Everywhere makes it so that readers cannot really get to know and understand any single one. Without a doubt, however, if you liked Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere is a must-read. And, if you're unfamiliar with Celeste Ng, now is the time to play catch up! I am already eagerly anticipating her third work.

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