We know at the beginning there is a family tragedy . In Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng spends the rest of the novel introducing us to the characters and circumstances that led to the hook. By the end we know who is responsible and why.
The story taps several issues, prominent among them the relationships in families and the secrecy between teenagers and their parents. Eleana and Bill Richardson are white and wealthy, residing in the community they selected to raise their four teenage children, three of which would probably attend ivy league schools. And then there was Izzy, the youngest, and the most difficult to raise, the neediest, and most emotional. Even her siblings are aware Izzy doesn't fit the plan Eleana , their mother, had for the perfect family system. Everything about Izzy doesn't fit.
The fire investigators said there were little fires everywhere and Izzy is missing, but so are Pearl and Mia, the Richardson's renters. There had been a conflict between the Richardsons and Mia. She had befriended a single mother whose child was in an adoptive placement. Parental rights hadn't been terminated and Bill Richardson would be the attorney representing the adoptive family. Simultaneously, Eleana is seeking the truth regarding Mia's past. Mia, the artist, spends most of her day with her creations, but to make ends meet she cleans and cooks for the Richardsons. Because Eleana suspects a betrayal, she is determined to investigate and discovers the reason Mia and her daughter move frequently.
The story touches on the interracial issues in adoption, surrogacy, abortion, class differences and the frustrations of a marginalized teenager. The inner rage of Izzy is released throughout the story and is relevant in today's climate of the rash of school shootings as a result of bullying and isolation. It's interesting that Ng's character chooses to victimize those closest rather than randomly shooting in an insitution, such as school.
As with most chaos, several situations could have been changed early if the characters had communicated or taken time to reason through their decisions, but these characters were true to life and living in their own insecurities and often made assumptions that weren't accurate. So in the end, there is some hope, but the damage has been done. I recommend this novel as a good read. Check it out on Amazon.