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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Audio ARC review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0735224293/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=onderherose-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=0735224293&linkId=c0f59c34003f19e83c0ce2098923b5c2
Please Note:  I received an advance audio copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.  Also, I am in the Amazon Affiliate program.  If you buy the book using the link on this page, I will get a small fee.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned -- from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren -- an enigmatic artist and single mother -- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.


Review:
I wasn't sure, at first, what to make of Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng.  With its dual plot of teens, and of their parents, it's part YA, part women's fiction.  It did take me a while to delve in to this book.  But once I did, I was engulfed!  With a huge cast of characters, and a twisty story line, this book would be a wonderful choice for a book club, and will surely be the next big movie.  If you liked Big Little Lies by Lainey Moriarty, you will adore this book.
 

What I Liked:
Characters:
I really like all the teens in this book (except for Moody).  As the title suggests, each of them have small (and large) fires going on in their lives.  It reminds me that, even when people seem all perfect, everyone has something going on!

Mia, the artist/photographer who moves into the Richardson's rental unit with her daughter Pearl, is a very complex character.  She also seems to have everything figured out.  She moves randomly from city to city just on a whim.  But there is also more going on...  I had very mixed feelings about her, and her choices.  She is actually quite selfish, and doesn't think about how all of their moving around affects Pearl. 

Story:
There is so much going on in this book!  Little fires and big fires all converge to ignite the (actual) house fire that consumes the Richardson's home.  This is not giving anything away, as this happens at the beginning of the book.  The rest of the story is about everything that leads up to it.

This is also a story about pregnancy, adoptions, and a custody battle.  Of people desperate to have a baby, and people desperate once they have them.  My heart went out to both mothers in the custody battle over an Asian baby who is being adopted into a Caucasian family.  Is it right to place a child into an environment where they will surely lose their cultural identity?  Or should a person who is skirting the edge of poverty be allowed to raise her own child?

Narration:
I think the narrator, Jennifer Lim, did a fine job with the characters in this story.  While she does do an accent with the Asian character, she does so subtly, and with respect.  She is versatile, performing as a teenage boy one minute, and a scared middle-age mother the next.
 

What I Didn't Like:

Characters:
I really disliked Mrs. Richardson!  What a busybody.  Not only does she interfere in the lives of several people, but she doesn't really pay any price for it.  I really wanted her to get caught and have some consequences for her actions, but she doesn't.  I know this is probably how things would turn out in "real life",  but I was itching for her to pay for what she had done.  The author tries, somewhat, to have one result that will haunt her, but I didn't see it as much of one.  She doesn't have much regard for the person who eventually leaves, so I didn't see it as much of a loss for her.

I also thought Moody's character wasn't given much to do beyond mooning over Pearl.  I wish the author had gone a little deeper into being the rejected friend.   But he only seems angry, not hurt, about Pearl not liking him.  All he does is trash-talk her, he doesn't even act on his anger.  So this made me feel like he was just a filler character.



                                                            


Rating:




Release Date:  September 12th, 2017

Publisher:  Penguin Random House Audio

Genre:  General Fiction

Listening Length:  11 hours, 27 minutes

Page Length:  352 pages

Narrator:  Jennifer Lim

Recommendation:  This would make a wonderful selection for a book club.  The actions of the characters will make for some heated discussions!

 
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