Little Fires Everywhere

By Celeste Ng,

Book cover of Little Fires Everywhere

Book description

The #1 New York Times bestseller!

"Witty, wise, and tender. It's a marvel." -Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and A Slow Fire Burning

"To say I love this book is an understatement. It's a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage…

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Why read it?

11 authors picked Little Fires Everywhere as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Any book set in suburban life with a dark underbelly has me hooked.

I loved the themes of privilege, race, and motherhood within the context of suburban life. I also enjoyed the contrast between such different ways to parent: a wealthy and seemingly perfect family compared to a nomadic and unconventional mother-daughter duo.

I think the story also raised some interesting questions about the intricacies of motherhood and, of course, how we always feel the weight of the choices we make as mothers and the impact of those choices on our lives and the lives of our children. Not to…

When Elena rents a house to Mia, Mia’s past is somewhat unclear, but Elena sees no reason to pry. That is until Mia voices opposition to Elena’s close friends in a very public child custody battle. Elena then begins to investigate Mia’s past to find out who her tenant really is.

While not technically a thriller, Little Fires Everywhere reads like one. The mystery is “who is Mia?” But also slowly becomes, “Who is Elena?” This is often the kind of mystery I’ve experienced in real life. I’ll be close to someone and then they’ll do something I disagree with,…

Gosh, I can’t even tell you all the mothering-related reasons I love this book without giving away spoilers.

Suffice it to say, Little Fires has at least two complex mother characters with a lot to say about our responsibilities to our children and ourselves. I thought of Elena Richardson a lot when writing Sheryl’s character in my book.

Even when we sacrifice most of ourselves to do everything “right” as mothers, the end result can still be calamity and loss. It doesn’t get much gnarlier than that.

The Road from Belhaven

By Margot Livesey,

Book cover of The Road from Belhaven

Margot Livesey Author Of The Road from Belhaven

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Secret orphan Professor Scottish Novelist

Margot's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Road from Belhaven is set in 1880s Scotland. Growing up in the care of her grandparents on Belhaven Farm, Lizzie Craig discovers as a small girl that she can see the future. But she soon realises that she must keep her gift a secret. While she can sometimes glimpse the future, she can never change it.

Nor can Lizzie change the feelings that come when a young man named Louis, visiting Belhaven for the harvest, begins to court her. Why have the adults around her never told her that the touch of a hand can change everything? When she follows Louis to Glasgow, she begins to learn the limits of his devotion and the complexities of her own affections.

The Road from Belhaven

By Margot Livesey,

What is this book about?

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, a novel about a young woman whose gift of second sight complicates her coming of age in late-nineteenth-century Scotland

Growing up in the care of her grandparents on Belhaven Farm, Lizzie Craig discovers as a small child that she can see into the future. But her gift is selective—she doesn’t, for instance, see that she has an older sister who will come to join the family. As her “pictures” foretell various incidents and accidents, she begins to realize a painful truth: she may glimpse the future, but…


“It came, over and over, down to this. What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?” Nineties suburban America sets the scene for Ng’s second novel, which I adored for its exploration of mothering in various forms – surrogacy, adoption, abortion, and the blood that isn’t always thick enough to bond us. 

As someone who tends to write in the first person, I hugely admire Ng’s ability to move between different characters’ perspectives. The empathy she incites in her reader is a testament to the sensitivity with which she handles her varied cast. Having felt…

From Amy's list on modern motherhood.

In this seemingly perfect neighborhood, all that glitters is not gold. This is the story of the unraveling of Shaker Heights, an opulent neighborhood in Ohio. A single mother and her daughter rent a house and change all the unwritten rules in this seemingly perfect community. The story unfolds in a matter that you simply must know, literally, what is going to happen next. The characters are well developed, and you find yourself rooting for the underdog. 

From Deena's list on that I couldn't put down.

Mother-daughter relationships are fertile grounds for exploration—but be prepared to navigate some landmines. As a daughter myself and the mother of two strong adult daughters, I find myself drawn to books that explore these complex relationships. Celeste Ng masterfully depicts the intricacies, drawing examples from two families who are seemingly worlds apart. Elena Richardson and her family live in Shaker Heights, an upscale, suburban community outside Cleveland. Mia Warren, a mysterious artist, and her daughter Pearl arrive in town and rent a house from the Richardsons. As the story unfolds, the Richardson children are drawn to Mia, with sensibilities so…

I loved the dynamics of the two families and how the mothers are kind of thrown together and forced into a relationship neither wants. Both families have their secrets, dysfunctions, and hurdles to overcome. And that’s the exact dynamic I had in mind when I wrote my book; the Wilsons, being broke, surviving off the land, and dealing with their goodhearted, kind father who pushes them all to take up his fight and hack his former employer (Colossal Oil) and the Carters, the rich family that owns the oil company and yet are deeply tied to the Wilsons. Give me…

From Melanie's list on poor vs. rich.

Because nothing is more entertaining than reading about messed up families. I mean, really messed up. But there’s a story here that goes beyond typical family dysfunction. It would be so easy to paint a wide swath across the pages of a story, labeling someone as the evil one. But isn’t everyone flawed? And don’t we all have some good in us? Ng shows us a family that is raw and pained. An engaging read from start to finish. When you are done with reading this, be sure to check out the limited TV adaptation with Reese Witherspoon.

Best read…

I made the mistake of taking Little Fires Everywhere with me on a rare trip to Mexico with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I really did want to catch up but kept finding myself sneaking out of happy hour to huddle by the pool alone with this novel which I tore through in two days. In this novel, Mrs. Richardson, a third-generation resident of picture-perfect Cleveland Heights, comes head-to-head with boho single mom, Mia Warren, who is new in town. What unfolds is an unexpected story about control versus chaos and the unpredictable consequences both can wreak. You…

From Virginia's list on suspense in a suburban setting.

This story takes place in the orderly, progressive suburban town of Shaker Heights. The lives of two families the “perfect” Richardson family and an enigmatic, artistic mother and her daughter – interweave and are changed forever. The novel explores the layered complexities of power, the conformist’s vs. artist’s life, and motherhood.

From Kate's list on dysfunctional families.

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