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Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere
By Celeste Ng
Penguin Press, Hardcover, 9780735224292, September 12, 2017, 352pp.

The Short of It:

The essence of motherhood can be shown in so many ways, a photograph of a mother holding a child, a mother gazing through a window at a child who is no longer hers, a mother’s contempt for her own daughter. All these things come together in this beautifully told story.

The Rest of It:

The story opens with Izzy burning down her house. From the moment of conception, Mrs. Richardson knew that this child would be different from her other children and as Izzy grows into a young woman, Mrs. Richardson wonders if she will ever have a relationship with her that isn’t wrought with frustration and worry.

Izzy doesn’t get along with anyone in her family but does get along with Mia and her daughter, Pearl. Mia and Pearl are renters of a little apartment owned by Izzy’s family. Although they are renters, Pearl is more a part of the family than Izzy is, always hanging out at the main house with the other kids. Mia, a photographer by trade, makes ends meet by taking odd jobs and eating leftover takeout but she has a way with Izzy and even Izzy is surprised by this.

There are many stories within this novel as each character finds his or her way but ultimately, it’s a story about motherhood and what it means to be a family. As these characters interact with each other and their story lines begin to cross, secrets are revealed and they are forced to look closely at themselves in the mirror. We find out why Izzy burns the house down and somehow we can relate.

I really loved this beautifully written novel and it will most definitely be on my list of faves at the end of the year. Everything came together so beautifully. Not perfectly tied-up with a bow but realistically and with hope. I plowed through those final pages and then read the last page over and over again.

Have you read it? If not, I highly recommend it.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo
By George Saunders
Random House, 9780812995343, February 2017, 368pp.

The Short of It:

A unique and touching story about the loss of a child and what happens next.

The Rest of It:

Young Willie Lincoln dies at a very young age, leaving his father, President Lincoln and his mother Mary, to grieve over his loss.

But…

Willie’s spirit will not leave the cemetery in which he was interred, accompanied by others who have chosen to do the same. For one reason or another, they can’t seem to move out of this “bardo” into the next life yet they all vow to help young Willie because the thought of an innocent child spending eternity in such a grim place, is too much for these characters to bear.

Lincoln in the Bardo includes some very interesting, and sometimes even playful characters and almost reads like a play except that characters express the thoughts and feelings of other characters instead of themselves which takes a little getting used to. But after that, I found myself completely wrapped-up in the story of this young boy trying to find his way.

Things you should know:

  • You won’t learn much about President Lincoln from this novel.
  • Many of the works cited are fictional.
  • There are a lot of characters (160+)
  • Even though the afterlife is discussed, no one religion is emphasized.
  • You will be Googling for Civil War facts while reading, but I suggest you read first and Google later.
  • It helps to have a basic understanding of the Bardo and what it is.

Lincoln in the Bardo is beautifully written.  I highlighted many sentences and I don’t often do that. The subject matter is somewhat somber but it’s lightened-up by the playfulness of the characters. It’s tragic in that these characters can never correct their mistakes and as a result live forever in regret but it has stayed with me long after finishing it and the image of these spirits spending eternity in the cemetery is haunting. Check out this virtual reality experience to get a feel for what I am talking about:

Go to this page and scroll down to the bottom to view. Once there, click around to explore.

I know some readers are divided over the book but I loved it and my book club had plenty to discuss when we met. I plan to buy a copy as soon as the paperback comes out in February.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.