Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
When Reese Witherspoon recommends a book on her Instagram you know its going to be good.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is an amazing book about morals, belief and hope and for me had little feels of a Jodi Picoult or Liane Moriaty novel.
Mr and Mrs Richardson and their four children live in Shaker Heights, a stepford wife type area. Mrs Richardson’s family has been there for generations and she has done things by the book – married her childhood sweetheart, worked hard and now live comfortably. There are rules for everything. So when the bohemian Mia and her daughter Pearl arrive and rent one of the Richardson’s apartments the community takes notice.
Pearl strikes up a friendship with the Richardson children, in particular Lexie and Moody. Lexie, who has strong morals installed in her by her parents does everything by the book. So when she falls pregnant with long term boyfriend Brian, panic ensues. She asks Pearl to come with her for an abortion and gives Pearl’s details to the doctors. So when Pearl and ladies man Trip Richardson start sleeping together and journalist Mrs Richardson finds out she’s supposedly has an abortion she tells Mia. However Mia has kept Lexie’s secret that it was actually her.
Babies and motherhood are at the centre of this novel. Mia works multiple jobs to make a living, she’s a trained photographer, cleans for Mrs Richardson and works at a restaurant along with Bebe. Bebe, a single mother suffering from post natal depression and a lack of money, abandons her baby outside a fire station. The McCullough’s, friends of the Richardson’s have been trying for a baby for 10 years and when they hear there is a Chinese baby up for adoption, Bebe’s baby, they jump at the chance. Bebe, now in a better frame of mind, later decides she wants her baby back and Mia encourages her to fight for her child. A custody battle ensues.
Hurt at how Mia’s encouragement might mean the McCullough’s lose their baby, Mrs Richardson uses her journalistic skills to dig up some dirt on Mia.
Mia no longer speaks to her family. She was a talented photographer at university and won a scholarship but when the scholarship isn’t renewed for a second year she worries about where her fees are going to come from. A chance meeting with a Wall Street banker brings her some much needed cash. The banker and his wife want her to carry their baby for $10,000. Mia eventually agrees however when her beloved brother Warren is killed in a car crash and her parents turn their back on Mia for being a surrogate she tells the Ryans she’s lost their baby and runs. That baby is Pearl.
Mia has to run again when Mrs Richardson finds out the truth. But Mia’s actions with Bebe highlight that although she did wrong by taking someone’s child, she doesn’t want to see it happen to someone else.
It’s an incredibly powerful book which I finished in three days – hello holiday! I really didn’t want it to end. It questions whether it’s nature or nurture that makes you a mother. The book brings up all sorts of topics – race, biology, beliefs and what really is right or wrong. I loved this book!