‘Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer : how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
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.
Enter Mia Warren – 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 mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend the carefully ordered community.
When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town – and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost…’
It’s taken me a while to write this review. I actually finished the book a few weeks ago. I’d heard many people saying they really enjoyed the book, so I was eager to read it, and requested it from my local library. I was really excited when I got it, and delved in straight away.
To my disappointment though, this book just didn’t wow me. I definitely didn’t dislike it, to the contrary, I quite enjoyed it, but I can’t put my finger on why. I can’t recall the last time I read a book and was left with no strong feelings about it. I closed it, thought ‘well, that wasn’t bad.’ and promptly forgot about it. That’s why this post doesn’t follow my usual format of likes and dislikes, because try and I might, I couldn’t really come up with anything.
The characters weren’t particularly likable. I didn’t find them to be very well written. Mia is the stereotypical ‘free spirit’ with a secret, and I didn’t find her story surprising. Her ‘twist’ was not so shocking, and it didn’t move me. I found I just didn’t really care. The Richardson’s also felt a bit clichéd – the overbearing mother, the father always at work, and the popular children with one black sheep in Isabelle.
It was a bit lackluster in my opinion, I don’t think books always need a big twist or shocking events to be interesting or enjoyable, but I felt the events in this book were dull and not very well written.
This review does sound mostly negative, but again, I didn’t actually dislike the book as a whole, I just found it underwhelming and it wouldn’t make me hurry to try the other books by this author.
I rated Little Fires Everywhere 3 out of 5 stars.