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Published: September 12, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Domestic
Take the title literally. The story follows several families and their life in Shaker Heights. A take on subtle perfectionism in the community of Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga County in Cleveland Ohio. Yes, it’s a real place where the author grew up!
Possible spoilers ahead (I may not consider it so, but some might. So I must warn you.)
Mia and Pearl Warren are a dynamic mother-daughter duo who shake up the seemingly perfect community of Shaker Heights particularly among the Richardson’s family. I can relate to the constant moving between houses and cities/towns at a young age. You don’t get too attached, so leaving isn’t hard. And you learn to live with what you have by mending and reusing items, and only taking the important things with you. They go about their usual lives laying low, but not without making the four Richardson’ children believe that there was more to life outside the comforts of Shaker Heights. Mia herself introduces art as more than getting famous for the money. She lives and breathes art, and she has a proud daughter who is both beautiful and smart and is unbothered by delving into the unknown.
The Richardson’s are comfortable where they are. Three generations in Shaker Heights and the notion of unison and equality as a community are passed down through families from the origin of its history. On the outside, everyone is the same. Parents with great careers, high-income, and social status. Their children sent off to Ivy League colleges and grow up with everything they need and want. Even without the Warren’s, everyone’s got varying opinions that they’re always afraid to share because it might off-balance the social norms that have kept the community the way that it is.
There are several side stories that tie into characters, such as Mrs. Richardson finding out more about Mia Warren. The adoption of a Chinese infant and the legal trial that ensues thereafter. These strengthen the theme of mother-daughter relationships, and drastic measures they take to uphold their own dignity and their families.
What I love about this book is that it is written in the third person omniscient narrative. We look into the history and lives of each of the characters, so we too might understand their reasons for taking actions, but also for not. It reminds us that there can never be such a community that exists without some sort of rebellion within, changing up the course of history.
Little Fires Everywhere reminds us that we can always start anew. Fires die out and we have to make do with what’s left. And this isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. The past will sometimes follow us, but it will only go as far as you let it.
Why 4 out of 5 stars? I really wanted reconciliation between characters towards the end of the book. A chance to let each of them tell their story so there weren’t any misunderstandings.
You can purchase the book here.