Shaker Heights – a progressive suburb where everything is planned, where nothing can destroy the successful lives of its residents whose main principle is to obey rules. At first, we met Richardson family and in particular Elena Richardson, a journalist for a local newspaper, a mother of three teenage kids, and a wife of a successful lawyer.
When Mia Warren, an artist, and single mother arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl and rents a house from Richardsons everything changes. Her way of living and a secret that she carries with her put a threat on this perfectly ordered community. Shortly after their arrival, Pearl becomes friends with three of the Richardson kids: Moody, Lexie, and Trip. Isabelle, the last of Richardson children, a rebellious teenage girl who is the only one that can see and think beyond the perfectly imposed way of living. Soon, she is drawn to Peral’s mother Mia and helps her with her artwork.
Shortly after, Richardsons’ friends try to adopt a Chinese-American baby. This custody battle divides town and puts both Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Meanwhile, Elena is determined to discover the secrets of Mia’s past. Eventually, her investigation leads to an unexpected turn of events. However, her obsession will cost her relationship with her own family and she will soon question her own way of living.
‘Little fires everywhere’ teaches us about a mother-daughter relationship and that sometimes playing by rules can have devastating consequences. Being a mother does not mean ‘being perfect’. It comes down to love and sacrifice that proved to be more important at the end. Celeste Ng did a perfect job describing each of the characters in an emotional and passionate way, giving a reader an opportunity to choose on which side they will stand.