Our first ever Zoella Book Club read in 2019 was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Celeste is an American author who won Amazon’s book of the year with her first novel Everything I Never Told You. Suffice to say we were very excited to get stuck into her second novel.
Little Fires Everywhere takes place where Celeste grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It follows two families in the 90s who are brought together by their children. Have a read of our reviews below and check out our current book club pick here.
I found the book hard to get in to, but this might be because it’s the first book I’ve read this year! I kept reading because I was waiting for certain characters to be put in their place but that didn’t really happen which was somewhat frustrating. I thought it was such an interesting look at different angles and why people make the decisions they do and behave the way do, as we don’t always know someone’s motives despite being very close to them. I thought Celeste really captured how tricky parent-child relationships can be and how they can mature over time, it definitely made me think about some of my own relationships and I really enjoy books that I can relate to on that kind of level.
Rating – 3.5/5
Would you read again? – No but I’ll definitely watch the series, I love seeing characters come to life
Would you recommend to a friend? – I think I would make sure they would enjoy it first
I loved the way Ng explored themes of identity, privilege and motherhood while weaving an absolutely gripping narrative. As someone who is half-Chinese and has the surname McCulloch I found it particularly disconcerting! I can’t wait for the screen adaptation (with Reese Witherspoon & Kerry Washington).
Rating – 4.5/5
Would you recommend to a friend? Yes
Would you reread? Probably not (too many books for that!)
This was the first book I read on my snazzy new kindle so I think that made it a bit more exciting for me if I’m honest, as I didn’t want to put it down (lol). Without spoiling anything, I found the relationships between mother and child interesting and how they change and develop throughout the book, this is pretty integral and I thought Ng wrote these relationships convincingly despite their complications. This book is less about twists and turns and is more of an explorative view of a town, it’s residents and their relationships. I feel like a lot of characters didn’t necessarily get their comeuppance and that that felt unjust as the description of them was so thorough and well thought out that you become attached to how their stories unfold. The ending left me wondering about what what happens yet as its not the conclusive finish I desired. Celeste is obviously a very strong writer and I think fans of her previous writing will enjoy this as it’s in line with her usual style.
Rating – 3/5
Would you read it again? No but I rarely ever reread books
Would you recommend it to a friend? Yes
This book wasn’t the page turner I had anticipated after reading so many amazing reviews and it started out quite slow. The authors descriptions of the town, homes, relationships & characters were superb and I adored her writing style, although I do feel that some of my favourite characters weren’t as focused on and I would have loved a bit more depth to those (Moody for example). I usually prefer quite fast-paced, gripping storylines, and although this one felt a bit more subdued, I can still appreciate its real-ness, honesty and themes throughout, and it felt a bit like being a fly on the wall. I particularly liked the emphasis on mother-daughter relationships!
Rating – 3/5
Would you read it again – No, but I do think it lends itself particularly well to a TV style format so excited to see the series
Recommend to a friend – Yes
Although not the most exciting pace to begin with, I felt the author captured and drew you in to the feel of the small town neighbourhood through fine details and descriptions in such a way that made you feel like a nosy resident watching the story unfold.
I enjoyed how the author presented the flaws and complexities of real personalities and relationships, and took you through the more detailed backstories of the characters to help in understanding their point of view. I thought this was a particularly interesting way of dealing with the more complex themes in the book and the dilemmas they presented.
Would you read it again?
Probably not but am looking forward to the TV adaptation
Would you recommend –
Yes, I think this is a well written book that many people would enjoy
This book was not the page turner I was anticipating. Not a lot happens for the first 50% where you largely just get a lot of back story and character development. I think I was expecting more as a lot of people I know had read it and really enjoyed it. I was waiting for a big twist or crescendo moment which never really came and it was a bit of an underwhelming ending in my opinion. The writing is good though and there are some very interesting and polarising themes in the book which the debater in me really enjoyed.
Rating – 2.5 out of 5
Would you read it again – definitely not but I would watch the series as the characters and storylines are good.
Recommend to a friend – With the right caveats and minimal hype I would.
I really enjoyed LFE, at first I thought the premise was confusing but once I got two chapters in I was hooked. It’s very Desperate Housewives meets Bad Moms but without the comedy, the hierarchy of status and following the rules otherwise you’re untrustworthy. It covers a lot of themes that really elicited a response in me – privilege and how those with it believe best to use it, social status, motherhood and the bond between a mum and her child, and how it can cause conflict and an urge to find stability, even at a price. I liked how Ng would share backstories to explain why a character acted a certain way, and then end it with ‘obviously they didn’t share that in the moment, but that’s why they felt that way’, which helps you understand the characters more, even if you choose to not empathise or agree with them. Overall, I think it was all cleverly woven together to reach a volatile yet sad end, which hopefully teaches the characters and the reader a life lesson.
Rating – 4.5/5
Would you read it again? I think I would re-read before the TV adaption comes out, but it’s definitely a one-read pony.
Would you recommend it to a friend? Definitely!