Little Fires Everywhere Book Review
Review of Little Fires Everywhere
Hulu subscribers and Reese Witherspoon fans probably already know that the book, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is now a hit show. While I haven’t finished the series (because they haven’t all aired), I’ve seen enough to begin the conversation about how it stands up. And since I haven’t yet reviewed this novel (or any for a while) this just felt like the perfect place to begin.
First, I want to start by saying to all hospital care workers, THANK YOU!! And all of our current articles and reviews are written for the people who are staying home, so you can stay safe.
Let me be honest up front, I would have loved this book — five-star head-over-heels loved — if it hadn’t started with the conclusion. It’s that impactful first scene that makes you say, Holy sh*t this is gonna be good. But that only works if there is an oh snap! moment at the conclusion. But in Little Fires Everywhere that just didn’t ring true… at least for me. Read it and make your own decision.
It’s most evident between the two families at the heart of this story. The differences in how these families fight, love, laugh and politic play in stark contrast to one another.
One family’s controlling matriarch rules a coordinated roost. Married to an overworked lawyer, she has three kids that she desperately wants to control, but can’t. The other family consists of a single mother struggling to live the life of a free-willed artist while battling with the need to appease a daughter begging for normalcy. When these two opposing, strong female protagonist/antagonist personalities intersect, it leads the reader down a windy road of heartbreak.
Questions about race and poverty, versus wealth and feigned stability take the narrative to deep and heady places. So much so that the storylines had me questioning my perspective and with what lens I’m truly seeing things through. I also found myself thinking about the story long after I had put it down, itching to return to the story, to the characters. And in the end, isn’t that what the reading journey is all about?
The show also titled Little Fires Everywhere, which airs on Hulu, takes the story a step farther. Not just being a book about class structures and how they don’t play well together, but it throws race into the forefront. At first, and I’m not gonna lie, I was upset because the narrative had a much different tone than the book, at least in my interpretation. But then I realized that bringing the racial inequities to the forefront shined a vivid light on the class structure in a connective way.
Racial and class inequities are often intrinsic and the way they play on-screen unmasks the ugliness of privilege brilliantly. Contrary to my initial bias toward the original story, it was a good move. The lens is the same, it’s just more glaring. I also didn’t like how they made Kerry Washington’s, Mia immediately distrustful and angry, but then I had to pivot because this character had a host of different issues because she was also a person of color and again, it works.
There are also several other small differences, like adding the father into the storyline more and making him, at least in the shows infancy, drawn to Mia sexually. The building tension I caught in just the first few episodes had me intrigued, especially because I’m a fan of the actor, Joshua Jackson, who plays Mr. Richardson. But I will reserve full judgment until the season has ended and I revist this review.
Am I going to continue on this Hulu journey with two sets of messed up families? Absolutely! Do I recommend this book to those looking for a well-written story that will be an easy read with an accompanying show? Definitely.
Happy reading and remember to stay in and stay safe, if not for yourself, do it for everyone else!