Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng features positive reviews while others are mixed. Sometimes when there are such extreme differing opinions, it shows there are plenty of layers to a story. Some agree with story choices and others don’t. In my case, I really enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere. The following book club questions will have spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my preview and review first.
Some say they ‘couldn’t get into the book.’ But the book started with a literal fire so you know it’s leading up to something big. To me, slowly developing the story allows the reader to get the know the location, Shaker Heights, as well as the inner dynamics of all the characters.
For instance, the adoption trial happening later in the novel made that storyline richer because we knew the actions and motivations of the main characters from earlier chapters.
BTW, in this article on The Guardian, Celeste Ng goes into detail about growing up in Shaker Heights, giving more context to the setting and why she wrote the book.
Let’s get into the questions.
- There are two important settings: Shaker Heights and the ’90s era. How do you think the location and the era added more to the story? How would the story be different if it were set in 2018?
- Celeste Ng’s writing style includes different perspectives and characters, sometimes on the same page. How did this shape your opinions of the characters? Do you like that style of writing?
- Pearl is finally able to act like a “normal” teenager when she spends time with the Richardson family. All the kids, except maybe for Izzy, grow fond of Pearl. Do you think they all had genuine affection for her or did they have selfish intentions?
- The mother-daughter dynamics are complicated with many of the characters. What do you think Izzy saw in Mia that she doesn’t see in her own mom?
- Mia isn’t concerned with wealth or appearances but her art does take over her thoughts and motivations. What are some of the similarities and differences between Mia’s love for art compared to Elena’s focused on order?
- What do you think it was about Mia that Elena didn’t trust initially? Do you think her motivation to find out Mia’s background was just because of their differing views on the adoption case or was it something more?
- What is your opinion of the adoption case? Did the judge make the right call, why or why not?
- What surprised you the most about Mia’s background?
- Do you think Pearl will ever meet her real dad and grandparents?
- In what ways did class and race underscore some of the relationships between characters?
- Why do you think Izzy decided to burn down the house? Do you think she’ll find Mia and Pearl? Will she ever reunite with her family again?
- Let’s talk about what we think will happen to Mia and Elena’s lives down the road.
- What will Pearl, Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy be like as adults?
- Do you know any planned communities similar to Shaker Heights?
- Hulu will make a limited series about the book. Do you plan on watching it? Which scenes do you hope make it in the series?
- Have you read Celeste Ng’s other novel, Everything I Never Told You? How did it compare to this one? Or are they too different?