Little Fires Everywhere

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone round the bend and burned the house down.

Writing this review made me feel like reading the book for the second time, consider me a fan of Celeste Ng’s (you pronounce it as ‘ing’) work.

Again it’s a seemingly lovely, decent family of which the image (they project) slowly starts to show cracks. This time it’s literally and figuratively a small town story, and even though something quite big happens, there’s such a subdued, rosy-tinted tone to everything that even the moment when it all boils over, you don’t feel more like a soft ‘huh’. Because it wasn’t inevitable, but mostly because Ng writes in such a way that you’re swaddled, embedded into these lives and can almost feel the possibilities pass left and right. Maybe Izzy (Isabelle) will find her way sooner than later, maybe Mia and daughter Pearl will air out the secrets between them and for once put roots down somewhere. Maybe Mrs. Richardson can become a person again, instead of a connection between others.

So you wait, and hope while things crash and literally burn, while still ending on a high note. Because Celeste Ng is good like that.

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng, Penguin Publishing 2017

Everything I Never Told You

Lydia is dead.

This is one of those books that you just stare into the distance for a while after finishing it.

Still, that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to review. Because, the bare bones of it, it’s a very simple story. A daughter dies, a family completely unravels. It’s the time (seventies/eighties), the people (a mixed Asian-American family) and the family members (hurt, unwanted, invisible) that make the story.

Ng makes you want to reach out through the pages all the time, simultaneously hugging the family members and giving them a kick in the behind because seriously, how can one human being be so selfish, insecure, loving and hating? And honestly, can small town America stop making a freaking fuss about people that don’t have blond hair and blue eyes?

It’s her so very human touch to these characters that leave you uncomfortable yet appeased.

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng, Blackfriars 2014