The first book I read in 2018 was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG, and wow, what a way to kick off a new year of reading. I absolutely inhaled this book and if it wasn't for other commitments, I probably would have read it in one fell swoop as it was truly breathtaking.
From what I have read on NG, she began her debut, Everything I Never Told You (which I just purchased yesterday!) in the same way she began this one - with a catastrophic event. In this novel, it is the seemingly perfect Richardsons' house being engulfed in flames as they watch it burn to the ground. We then travel back in time to find the culprit and their motives.
Set in the 1990s, Shaker Heights, Ohio, one of America’s first planned communities, order and harmony are prized. There are rules regarding all aspects of neighbourhood life including how high your lawn was allowed to grow and what colours you were allowed to paint your house. The citizens of Shaker Heights, particularly the Richardsons' have a heightened sense of superiority, the matriarch of the family, Mrs Richardson, a born and bred Shaker seems to be the pillar of the community, reporting for the local paper. Her family of six seem to be picture perfect, apart from the youngest, Izzy, who is the assumed culprit right from the start. As we begin to unravel the chain of events that lead to the fire, it is traced back to 11 months earlier when previously nomadic Mia Warren and her 15 year old daughter, Pearl, move into the Richardsons' rental flat and Pearl becomes good friends with the Richardson children and Mia becomes the family's cleaner. Meanwhile, Ng constructs three subplots that are less about arson and more about children, parents, race and coming of age. And in each case, whose rights and wants are most important.
This is an absolutely stunning read, I am so glad it was my first book of 2018 and that I now have her debut on my shelf as well.
Have you kicked off the new year with a new book?