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I recently read this gem of a book and I HAVE to share it with you!
First, a confession: I genuinely thought the image on the cover was a bunch of leaves up close, not a suburban street. I honestly have no idea how I could have made that mistake except that I only looked at it as thumbnail images when I was taking the e-book out from my library, so... hopefully don't let that colour your view of my judgment too harshly.
Second, this book is truly a beautiful thing to experience. I almost don't want to tell you too much about it: I had no idea what the story was when I picked it up and it was a joy to discover. However, I also don't believe in this whole nonsense around every little thing being a spoiler, so here you go (no actual spoilers, don't fret):
Little Fires Everywhere is set in one of those perfect little suburbs where the town was planned from the start and everyone is nice to each other.
The Richardson family are perfectly suited to the town: moderately wealthy, charitable, well-behaved (except the youngest daughter, who everyone seems to think is a total freak show of a failure but really just rages against the machine in relatively reasonable teenage ways - for the most part). They rent their second home out to a single mother and her daughter, and the two families become quickly entwined until, obviously, something goes awry.
Here is what I love about this story:
It takes the topsy-turvy teenage experience entirely seriously. There are five teens in this story with varied and interesting inner lives and little journeys that are both earth-shattering and minuscule all at once.
While it is obviously critical of some elements of the cookie-cutter planned suburb, it fully respects the lives of everyone living in it.
There is so much richness in how the racial and financial differences in this town are layered in beneath the narrative before they become a part of the primary story itself.
Family is such a beautiful and complex and damaging and wonderful thing in this story, as it is in life.
There is a major conflict that arises out of a wealthy white family that adopts a Chinese-American baby girl. A custody battle that ensues, dividing the town and the Richardson family. It is written in such a way that I felt entirely torn between the two sides, swinging back and forth along with the characters, never sure if the outcome was right.
It grabbed my heart and didn't let go. It's a thoughtful, detailed, complex, beautiful story. Go read it! Go now!
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