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Book club questions for Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng covers all the key topics and developments in this novel plus takes a look at the TV version. 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.
Update: I first wrote book club questions for Little Fires Everywhere back in 2018. Since then, the Hulu version starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington has aired so I updated the questions to include some about the show as well.
Book Club Questions for Little Fires Everywhere
- 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 the present day?
- 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?
- 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?
- Now let’s talk about the Hulu version of the story. First, what did you think about the casting overall?
- Why do you think they decided to focus more on race in the show compared to the novel?
- There are many differences in the show compared to the book. What did you think about having Mia in a relationship with her teacher? Why do you think they added that dynamic to the show?
- Elena is different as well – in the show, she didn’t want Izzy and that is very apparent in her dynamics. She also has a former flame Jamie that she still has feelings for. What did you think about the changes to Elena?
- In the novel, Izzy is the one to burn down the house. But in the show, it’s Lexie, Trip and Moody. What are your thoughts on this change? Did it make sense for those children to burn the house or did you think it was out of character? Why did Elena take the blame for her children?
- Overall, do you like the book or TV series better?
What to Read Next
Hope you enjoyed book club questions for Little Fires Everywhere! Here are some more recommendations along with links to book club questions.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid is an engaging and original story about race and privilege.
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times.
Long Bright River by Liz Moore
Long Bright River by Liz Moore is an impactful story about the opioid epidemic and the complicated dynamic between sisters.
In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.
Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.
Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters’ childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.