Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else

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Little Fires Everywhere

I have finished a few books recently so am behind on my reviews. I read Celeste Ng’s other book, Everything I Never Told You, a few years ago. After starting Little Fires Everywhere, I remembered more about that book, or really Ng’s writing style.

Little Fires Everywhere was an interesting book about suburban America, set in a real Ohio town where Ng grew up. It covers a lot of issues – adoption, parental rights, parenting, race, social class, family dynamics. Possibly too many issues. Overall I thought the book was slow, which is how her other book was for me as well. I also was not thrilled with the ending.

A single mother, Mia, and her daughter Pearl find their way to Shaker Heights, an suburb touted as the best in America. They never stay long in any place, but Pearl quickly makes friends with the children of a typical, wealthier Shaker Heights family, the Richardsons. Throughout the story, glimpses of Mia’s secretive past creep in but eventually, a local scandal pushes Mrs. Richardson, a local journalist, to dive deep into Mia’s past. The local scandal is a family attempting to adopt a Chinese baby who was left at a fire station, but the mother resurfaces and wants her daughter back. I cannot imagine how hard this would be from either side. The Richardson children end up with various relationships and debts to Mia which Mrs. Richardson will not accept.

Little Fires Everywhere is an interesting outsiders look at a Stepford-like town, both from the reader’s perspective and Mia’s outsider perspective. Again, it’s a little slow so I wouldn’t expect to fly through it. And it covers more serious topics, so don’t expect to laugh. But it was interesting and a great commentary on social relations in a small town.

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Everything I Never Told You

Another book finished for book club! Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng was not my favorite book ever. It is a story about family, race, identity and especially dealing with these things as a teenager. There is not really a main character – the whole family is main ‘character’. The story takes place during a time when this American-Chinese family sticks out like a sore thumb and is not at all like the families around them. And although this story can kind of claim to be a mystery, as there is a mysterious death to be resolved, it is mainly about the tumultuous and heartbreaking history of the family – from the parents’ meeting to the death of a daughter (I promise this is not a spoiler – it’s the first sentence of the book).

The story was well-written but wasn’t the most exciting or gripping tale. I’m actually pretty surprised it’s on all kinds of ‘must read’ lists. But you might like it depending on your interests!