Burning Sunset painting by DJ Geribo

As Ms. Ng described the community of Shaker Heights, I got a ‘Stepford Wives’ vibe that stayed with me as I read further into the novel and met one of the main characters, Mrs. Richardson. Living in an affluent community where all of the residents have never known hardship of any kind, it is impossible for her to understand a woman like Mia, a character who couldn’t be more opposite of Mrs. Richardson. Mia is creative, artistic, lives a free and bohemian lifestyle with no rules. Except her own that have helped her and her daughter survive. She is an enigma, full of secrets and mystery. She is ashamed of a decision she made long ago and has told no one, not even her daughter, Pearl. Her daughter is torn between the freedom (and I use that word lightly) she has had being raised by Mia and the structure of the Richardson household that she is drawn to – the stability and consistency she longs for in her life.

All the drama is there; the secrets, the lies, the jumping to conclusions about some that cause others to react and over react inappropriately. And then a safe place for some can also appear to be a prison for others. We realize that Mrs. Richardson and Mia are not that different after all. They both have to live with their demons, a past that will continue to follow them into the future.

Although at times I was disappointed with Mia’s inability to share any of her life’s hardships even with Pearl, all of the unexpressed pain and anger in the novel seemed to culminate in the youngest Richardson daughter, Izzy, who demonstrates an explosion of all the emotions everyone else keeps inside that only the most innocent can express.

I rate “Little Fires Everywhere” 3.5 out of 5 stars.