Little Fires Everywhere

I’d seen this book recommended as ‘the best book of 2017’ on a couple of Facebook feeds. When our book club chose this as our summer read, I was sure I’d find a copy without too much hassle. But the Torquay book shop had sold out, and so had the one at Aireys Inlet. What’s more, the lovely man who ran the Anglesea mobile library told me there were over 70 people on the waitlist! As you could imagine, its scarcity only made me more desperate to get my hands on a copy…

Celeste Ng’s second book doesn’t disappoint. Her writing is beautiful and draws you in from the very first page. Shaker Heights, the suburban setting for the book, reminded me instantly of a literary version of Wisteria Lane (of Desperate Housewives fame): full of manicured gardens, picture-perfect houses and beautiful residents.

When Mia Warren arrives in town, her life as a frugal single mother and itinerant artist is in sharp contrast to that of all the other residents, especially her landlords, the Richardson family. But soon all four Richardson children are drawn to Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl, and in several ways the two families become involved in each other’s lives. However, they don’t always see eye to eye – especially when Mrs Richardson’s closest friend is involved in a custody battle over an abandoned Chinese-American baby.

If you liked The Light Between Oceans, you’ll love this book, with its questions of what it means to be a mother, and the way it challenges our perceptions of right versus wrong. Little Fires Everywhere contains all the essential ingredients for a bestseller – intrigue, lovable characters, twists and turns, guilt, grief, secrets and suspense – so it’s no surprise that bookshops have found it hard to keep up with demand.