Little Fires Everywhere

Middle-class, midwest suburban family life is Celeste Ng’s ( subject matter in this recent novel. It concerns motherhood, surrogacy, abortion and adoption, and the narrative traces the events which lead to the tragedy of a raging house fire.


The Richardson family owns a large picture-perfect house in Cleveland’s progressive Shaker Heights neighbourhood. It has four cars in the copious driveway, and is torched as the novel opens. Mia Warren, a previously nomadic artist, and her 15-year-old daughter Pearl are Mrs Richardson’s tenants. Pearl strikes up a friendship with the Richardson clan – he’s a lawyer and she’s a reporter, and they have four children: Trip, Lexie, Moody, and Izzy. Mrs Richardson, seeing herself as something of a philanthropist, decides that instead of paying rent each month, Mia can take on housekeeping duties for the larger family.


Ng’s skill lies in observing the small but significant shifts in personal dynamics. Pearl becomes increasing close to the Richardson kids. Izzy finds refuge in laid-back, bohemian Mia’s company. The tension between the two women as they come down on opposite sides of a custody battle that’s making the local news. Mrs Richardson’s annoyance at what she’s sees as Mia’s ‘perverse pleasure in flaunting the normal order’. By the end there are so many threads entwined that almost any of the characters could be implicated in the house fire. You’ll find this an intriguing read to set off the year.


Check if this thoughtful and entertaining new novel is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue at



352 pages in Little, Brown

First published 2017

ISBN  978-1408709719


Celeste Ng

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