from my bookshelf: little fires everywhere by celeste ng


little fires everywhere takes place in shaker heights, a suburb of cleveland, ohio. in shaker heights, the homes are pristine, the adults have carefully planned out their lives to involve nice houses, cars, and clothes, and the children are mindfully placed on the same track; planning is crucial, and will keep people and things from getting out of control. but all of this is flipped on its head when mia and pearl warren move into a rental apartment down the street from the richardson family. the richardsons and other life-long shaker heights residents are in for the difficult lesson that even the most careful planners can’t micro-manage the effects of basic human experiences: young love, parenting, loss, estrangement from loved ones, and the search for belonging.


“So it would feel to him that he had always known her name, and that she had always known his, that somehow, he and Pearl had known each other always.”

“At that moment Moody had a sudden clear understanding of what had already happened that morning: his life had been divided into a before and an after, and he would always be comparing the two.”

“To have such a deep taproot in a single place, to be immersed in it so thoroughly that it had steeped into every fiber of your being: she couldn’t imagine it.”

“Mrs. Richardson, however, could not let Izzy be, and the feeling coalesced in all of them: Izzy pushing, her mother restraining, and after a time no one could remember how the dynamic had started, only that it had existed always.”

“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all at once.”

“All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control. It scaled walls and jumped over trenches. Sparks leapt like fleas and spread as rapidly; a breeze could carry embers for miles.”

“Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less.”

“It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was the devour it, sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”

“But the problem with rules, he reflected, was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time there were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure which side of the line you stood on.”