Reading Notes: Little Fires Everywhere

— 3 minute read

Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere makes me think a lot for a few reasons I can't really pin down yet.

Some random thoughts:

  • I think this book is a perfect example of how you can raise a lot of issues without a convoluted, too-out-of-this-world plot. I've always wanted to write books like these. It's hard--I don't think I have the capacity yet to flesh out characters like Mia, Pearl, the Robinsons, or even the secondary characters. It takes so much wit, understanding, and observation of the little things in our life that make our life, well, the way it is.
  • "All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing.". As you can probably tell from the title and the cover, fire (and thus other related terms, such as sparks) is a recurring theme throughout the book which appears in a lot of different contexts. My favorite, however, is how fire depicts passion; fire and passion do get paired a lot, of course, but I guess I love it for the reason that I've seen it portrayed by the people around me and I've seen firsthand how it affects them as a human being and the course of their lives, the way it affects Mrs. Richardson's or Mia's.
  • The topic of family relationships and dynamics is something that I've been thinking a lot about over the past few months (or this past year), so this book does make me reflect a lot. I'm a few years older than Mr. Richardson's children yet nowhere near Mia's or Mrs. Richardson's age, which makes a unique opportunity to observe things. It makes me think about how I was when I was their age (I can relate to Izzy a lot; that nagging feeling of constantly being misunderstood was all too familiar, but the difference was there was no figure like Mia in my life) and think about how I would be like later when I'm as old as Mia or even Mrs. Richardson. I guess my biggest fear in life is that I'd turn into a Mrs. Richardson. Per Mia's words: "It terrifies you. That you missed out on something. That you gave up something you didn’t know you wanted." Terrifying indeed. It will be interesting to re-read the book again when I'm a little older.
  • The idea of a perfect, planned community is also a highlighted topic in the book, but I'm unable to make anything out of it since it's not something I'm really familiar with.
  • Interesting recurring concepts that I still have to ponder over: the concept of permanence/impermanence; do people deserve second chances? I'll go back and jot down my thoughts if I ever have the answers one day...

Highlighted permalink

"That child who she thought had been her opposite but who had, deep inside, inherited and carried and nursed that spark her mother had long ago tamped down, that same burning certainty that she knew right from wrong."

"Nothing is an accident."

"Better to control that spark and pass it carefully from one generation to the next, like an Olympic torch. Or, perhaps, to tend it carefully like an eternal flame: a reminder of light and goodness that would never—could never—set anything ablaze..."