Sunday, May 19, 2019

"Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng

Another art-related book I have recently enjoyed is Little Fires Everywhere, by Asian-American author Celeste Ng.  When I'm slogging away in my studio I sometimes want the diversion of an audiobook. This time I chose an author whose previous novel Everything I Never Told You impressed me. It was an Amazon Book of the Year in 2014.

Ng's parents emigrated from Hong Kong in the 60's, and Ng was born in the US in 1980. At the age of ten she moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio, a progressive, well-regulated suburban community that she has chosen as the setting for both her novels.

A winner of Goodreads Choice in 2017, Little Fires Everywhere is mostly about family and motherhood. One of the main characters is Mia Warren, a peripatetic artist who, with her teenaged daughter Pearl, moves from one American town to another. Once one project ends, they pack up their few belongings and move on to find another. There is a stark contrast between the bohemian lifestyle of this little family and the rigid conformity of Shaker Heights.  This is reinforced by the introduction of  the Richardsons, an affluent, conventional family who take Mia and Pearl Warren under their wing. The reader slowly learns about the mysterious background of the Warrens as another plot line involving cross-racial adoption evolves.

The life of Mia Warren as an artist is central to the story, and comes into focus as the novel ends. A good read, Little Fires Everywhere is being made into an 8-part mini-series for Hulu, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

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