Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is currently the #1 book on the NY Times Best Sellers List, and it’s been made into a TV series streaming on Hulu plus it’s on our list of Popular Books Worth the Hype. Have you seen the show? It should be on your radar as it’s intriguing from episode to episode, and true to the spirit of the book.
I went back and forth with this book so many times – from starting it as an audiobook and then putting it down … and then picking up the hardcover … reading that for a while, and then switching back to audio. I’m glad I kept going though because I ended up loving the story and familial drama in Little Fires Everywhere – the simple yet complicated lives that could be playing out right now in any town.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours 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. Mia Warren is an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
If You Liked Little Fires Everywhere … Then Try …
Normal People, Sally Rooney
… because of complicated friendships …
Normal People had me running through a range of emotions – many times, I didn’t think I liked it. Many times I couldn’t stop listening to the audiobook. And the characters, through depressing as hell – have stayed with me long after I finished reading. It’s the story of 2 teenagers as they go to the same high school – one popular, one not – and how they interact. Then in college, the roles are reversed. To say anymore is not necessary – that’s all you really need to know. It’s about their struggles growing up – and there’s some serious issues with family, friendships, self esteem, love and depression.
Miracle Creek, Angie Kim
… because of destructive secrets & fire …
The book opens with the trial of Elizabeth Ward, who is accused of setting fire outside a hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) chamber during a treatment session, leaving two patients dead, and others paralyzed or permanently scarred. We get the point of view from several people involved – and it’s like everyone has a secret which means any of them could have set the fire … or was it Elizabeth?!
In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident. A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?
The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapena
… because of secrets …
Every character in the book has something to hide! Get ready for a fast paced, quick, twisty, dramatic novel where many of the characters are quite un-likeable! Nobody is telling the full story and you’ll suspect everyone of something.
Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed – baby Cora is kidnapped.
Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
… perfect lives …
Big Little Lies seemed like it would be a light, airy take on simple humdrum housewifery, but it went deeper and also takes a look at underlying insecurities that exist with trying to appear perfect life, the perfect kids and be the perfect family. It hits on many complex subjects such as bullying, betrayal, abuse and classism but with a slew of likeable, whimsical characters that lightened the heavy subjects, making it an enjoyable and at times funny but real, and emotionally moving book.
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.
The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
… family drama …
Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab.
The Plumbs come off as quite ridiculous people at first – selfish, greedy, and a little unfeeling. It’s told from the point of view of each of the four adult siblings fighting over an inheritance, aka the Nest. We hear from each of the characters why they need it, and why they like – or don’t like – their other siblings. It’s a fascinating character driven novel and although the pace is uneven, stick with it and you will become emotionally invested in the Plumb family.
Have you read any of these books? Have you seen any of the tv series based on the books Little Fires Everywhere are Big Little Lies?