Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng, read by Jennifer Lim. Penguin Audio, , unabridged, 9 CDs, 11 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-525-49806-3
Set in the late 1990s in the town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, the audio edition of Ng’s novel begins with a fire in the home of the Richardsons, an affluent, apparently happy family. What follows are flashbacks to the moments of tension—the metaphorical “little fires” of the title that lead a member of the family to set the blaze. The drama begins with the arrival of unconventional visual artist and single mother Mia Warren, who rents the Richardsons’ guest house with her 15-year-old daughter, Pearl. The Richardson kids quickly embrace Pearl, while their journalist mother, Elena, offers Mia the opportunity to do light housework to help pay the bills. But when Mia starts to mentor one of her daughters, Elena is miffed, and her annoyance goes nuclear after Mia interferes in the adoption process of one of the Richardsons’ closest friends, by encouraging the birth mother, a Chinese immigrant, to rethink her plans. Actress Lim gives a dramatic, vivacious performance and catches every nuance of its probe of mother love and the widening chasm between the privileged and the working class. Lim is particularly effective in her presentation of Elena as both villain and victim and of Mia as a seemingly wise free spirit who’s not exactly mother of the year. A Penguin Press hardcover. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2017
Release date: 09/12/2017
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-7352-2429-2
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-525-49877-3
Ebook - 978-0-7352-2430-8
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