“But the problem with rules, he reflected, was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time there were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure which side of the line you stood on”.
Little Fires Everywhere is perhaps the book that has taken me most by surprise this year. I got stuck into this one expecting some sort of thriller, especially after its dramatic beginning, however as the story continued to unfold I found myself being drawn into a complete web of moral dilemmas, consistently having to pause and ask myself: what would I do if the decision were in my hands?
Rather than the physical ‘Little Fires’ that kicked off the story, the title truly referred to the huge life questions that various characters were faced with. Would you give up your baby to give it a better chance at life? Who is a more deserving mother? Are looks more important than love? Is the law necessarily always “right”? These were just a few thoughts that cropped up whilst I was reading, causing me often to put the book down and think long and hard about actions and consequences.
I didn’t think this book was incredibly fast paced (that being said, I did stay up til an ungodly hour last night desperate to know what would happen next) however it was definitely engaging in the sense that when I was away from it I was still thinking about it and wondering what the resolve would be. I also thought the writing style was beautiful and incredibly profound; it was almost poetic in its reflections on life.
The characters were an interesting blend of incredibly flawed and inherently good; in short, human. I really liked how Celeste Ng made sure to show how each character had both light and dark within them and never depicted anyone as specifically being the hero of the story. It was a true and honest depiction of what people, and life as a whole, are like with lots of fun and thrilling anecdotes driving the story along the way. An excellent read, I’m definitely glad I picked this one up.
Trigger Warnings: abortion, teenage pregnancy, adoption, infertility, miscarriage, surrogacy