I really wish I was friends with Celeste Ng. Child Number One recently encouraged me to join Twitter in order to make my blog more successful and less of a pet project. Reluctantly I began the process and if the truth be told, I still don’t really understand what I’m doing and I’m pretty sure that I’ve made zero impact on my blog. What I did do though, is start to follow all the various authors whose books I had enjoyed and yes, maybe reviewed, over the last couple of years and then I waited to see what would happen. The answer is nothing. Well, nothing tangible at least from my perspective. On the up side however, I did discover that many of the writers I’ve enjoyed, appear to be pretty great people too. I know that there’s a saying and I’m totally paraphrasing here, that people go on Facebook to tell lies to their friends and on Twitter to tell the truth to strangers, but putting that aside, I can truthfully say that I really like some of these folks, most notably Celeste Ng and the fabulously quirky Laura Purcell.
It’s actually impossible to be on Twitter at the moment and not discover that Ng’s second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, is set to become the latest Reese Witherspoon mini-series. It’s also impossible to read this novel and not understand exactly why this would be happening. If I was Reese Witherspoon, I would have snapped it up too! Little Fires Everywhere is a genuinely beautiful and thought provoking novel. Whilst reading it, I was going through a period real upheaval and unhappiness, everything felt like it was just too hard, everything except reaching into the world of Shaker Heights. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a happy story designed to lift the spirits of whoever picks it up, rather it gently draws you in making you think about parenting, the moral choices people make and the paths we carve out in our lives. How any small or hasty decision can cause echoes throughout the years and in the generations that follow. How change isn’t always fuelled by one single cataclysmic event, but rather by a series of small things that lead into the greater pattern.
Central to the story is the Richardson family. As the book begins their house is burning to the ground, due to a series of little fires having been lit everywhere inside it. Izzy, the Richardson’s fourth and most troubled child appears to be to blame, but this is outlandish behaviour even by her standards and if she did it, then where is she now? Ng transports her readers back over the last few months to show exactly how each little fire ignited in the hearts of her characters and how life altering they were. By the time you finish the book, all you can do is sigh in understanding, feeling both happiness and unhappiness simultaneously and it’s this confusion of emotions that makes Little Fires Everywhere so very satisfying.
This book is fiction writing at its best and not to be missed.