Little Fires Everywhere to Celeste Ng

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I know this review is a long time coming. I’ve been mulling over this book for the past couple of weeks. I don’t know how to describe my feelings for this book, but I know they are good. I just don’t know how to explain it the best way possible. I’m going to at least try.

I don’t know where to start with this book. There were stories within stories and some of them I wanted to know more about and there were others that I could have done without. There were stories that randomly popped up and ones you followed throughout the book.

Have you ever been the new person in town? I’ve never been new and when I’m new, I’m already assimilated to the town the best that I can. However, some towns are just too small and too friendly that if you’re slightly different you may be facing some serious backlash.

In Little Fires Everywhere, you follow Mia and Pearl as they arrive in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It’s considered one of the most idyllic towns in the suburbs of Ohio and we all know that with idyllic towns there’s always something hiding under the surface.

This was my official first book by Celeste Ng. I’ve tried reading books by her in the past, but I had some trouble with them. Mostly because of the I’m really bad when it comes to death and dying and her first book was all about that.

Little Fires Everywhere feels like a combination of stories. It’s almost like watching a play where all the characters are important and all of them have a background that needs to be discussed and discovered to help with outlining the bigger theme of the book; the sacrifices mothers go through.

I’m not sure if it was Celeste Ng’s intention to make a book about being a mother, but it happens to be that way. And for some reason I’ve been reading a lot of books about mothers and what they do for their children. Perhaps it’s a sign that I should call mine?

But the story is a culmination of different stories. Themes covered from sex as a teenager, pregnancy, abortion, adoption, surrogacy, sacrifice, suffering, struggle, all the words that start with the letter S. Honestly, I thought the book could be longer since there was so much covered.

So Mia and Pearl arrive in this town and you’re curious as to where they came from. What made them move here? Why did they decide on Shaker Heights? All these questions kind of rise up while you read the book. The further you read, the more you find out.

However, I think the most important part of the book and probably the catalyst for everyone’s secrets revealed is when a young couple tries to adopt an abandoned Asian baby. Without giving too much away, the birth mother realizes too late that she didn’t want to give the baby away and the couple who wanted to adopt her was already in love with the baby. You can imagine the tension between the two families and what will happen next.

What’s interesting is that Celeste Ng takes on every major character in this book and starts to unpack their lives. It’s expertly laid out throughout the novel so that with every chapter that goes by, you learn a little bit more. Perhaps it’s more like watching a serial TV show than a play where each episode shares with you more about the people involved.

But the amazing part is how everything is sort of attached to the lives they chose, the decisions they made, and the actions that took their lives and changed who they are and why they did what they did.

It’s really hard to talk about this book without giving it away. I will say that if you’re a mom and you know the struggles and sacrifices you’ve made for yourself and for your children, then this will be a good book for you. And if you’re a person without kids, you might wonder what your mom went through in order to let you grow up in a good and loving home.

I received this copy of the book at BookCon. You can find Little Fires Everywhere on Amazon.

December 2016 TBR – #readthemargin

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Recently, a fellow book blogger going by the name of @ladybookmad created a new hashtag called #readthemargin for the month of December.

What’s the point of the tag? Well, because there’s a want and need to read more diverse books. As an Asian American woman, I want to educate my fellow readers on the different cultures and backgrounds . Also, it feels good to relate to the people and places I read about.

So, I’ve dedicated my December TBR not only to reading authors on the margins of society, but also to read a little bit of the people that make up a huge part of my being. I hope you’re reading the margin, or at least taking some time to read.

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

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Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

18373213When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. 
 
On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

23398763“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, drama, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.