I just finished reading Celeste Ng’s book, Little Fires Everywhere. It was recommended to me by multiple sources. First (and most-directly), my friend Jason recommended it to me. Our mutual friend Stephanie was indirectly involved as the one who originally recommended the book to Jason. And the thing that finally pushed me over the edge is that my wife, Marci, coincidentally borrowed the book from the library. So: I started the book a couple of weeks ago, but then I zoomed through the last two-thirds of the book in a couple of days over the Thanksgiving break.
The most unique aspect of the book, in my opinion, was its setting: the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights. Setting the story in Shaker Heights was significant because it was designed to be a model, Utopian community — one of the earliest progenitors of suburban society. But while everything looks pretty and put-together on the outside, the inner lives of the characters were in turmoil.
The action of the story centers around two families. One family is an affluent, established family who’s lived in Shaker Heights for generations. The other family is new to the community. They start their lives over every few months, carrying all their earthly possessions with them from place to place in a Volkswagen Rabbit. The two families become intertwined through friendship, romance, business, and secrets.
I appreciated the way that the book dealt with themes of power, immigration, grief, and the especially-complicated issues of abortion and adoption. Thought-provoking social commentary was written into almost every page, but it didn’t feel heavy-handed. It made me think.
I look forward to reading more of Ng’s books in the future.