Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (2017. Audible. B074F3BX79)
I’ll confess. Before I listened to this audio version of Ng’s novel, I watched the Hulu series adapted from the book. I’d suggest reading or listening to the story first, then watching it, because once you spend time with Reece Witherspoon and Kerry Washington as the two primary characters in the video version, it’s awfully hard to get those faces and their depictions out of you mind while reading or listening to the novel. Still. Even after watching the series, I found the book extremely well-written, timely, and full of interesting character (if not plot) twists.
Elena Richardson is a well-off, well-meaning, wife, mother, and journalist who believes she is a modern, highly educated, race-neutral American woman. She and her husband and their three kids live in Shaker Heights, a planned suburban community outside of Cleveland where income, race, religion, and connections are believed not to matter. Mia Warren is an African American woman, artist, and mother of Pearl Warren, her only child (who was actually supposed to be adopted as a surrogate but Mia ran off before fulfilling her surrogacy contract). The Warrens end up living in a rental home owned by Elena, which is the foundation of the connection between the two families.
I’ll not try to walk through all of the plot twists and turns in this short review. What I will divulge is that Ng tackles not only race as it pertains to interracial dating and the everyday interactions of Americans of different ethnicities, she heaps the social issue foundation that undergirds this lovely, well-written work with, as mentioned, additional questions devoted to surrogacy, abandonment, interracial adoption, poverty, white guilt, and a host of other triggers that keep the reader, viewer, and listener riveted on the story.
A fine effort.
4 and 1/2 stars out of 5