In September I attended a writing conference and fellow writers kept coming up and asking me, “Are the woman from Shaker Heights?” It was an odd question. My hometown isn’t a city people squee over and then I learned Celeste Ng’s most recent work, Little Fires Everywhere, centers on Shaker Heights in the late 90’s.
I couldn’t wait to read it and I got in line for the massive library hold queue. The Shaker Heights Public Library hosted her in November and I wanted to get the book read before she came to speak. I waited and waited for my turn to come up in the queue, but knew the closer we came to November the likelihood I would have to purchase the book became higher. Three days before the event I got the email telling me my hold was ready. I ignored my other duties and finished reading the evening before she came to speak.
Little Fires Everywhere is a phenomenal mixture of setting, character, and internal struggle. Each of the characters in the book confronts what rules to follow and why. The city of Shaker Heights was a character in the story and it drove the character’s internal struggles and provided a structure for each of them to change and grow.
I loved seeing Shaker Heights on display. Most stories center in he coasts of the US, California, New York City, New England, Florida. I hope this draws interest to our region of the country because it is a great place to live!
This is a must read for writers. It’s a good example of the power of plot and internal set up while keeping the reader engaged and surprised. The story arcs of each character end without being tied up in a bow.
If you are a bibliophile, you must read this book to keep up with talk at book clubs, PTA events and mom nights out. It is fun to discuss when I see myself as Mrs. Richardson and when I am Mia.
As a librarian, it is one of those titles that generates new users. Everyone is reading this, and it motivates readers to find more like it.
What books take place in your town? Share the book in the comments section.
If you enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere, you might also like:
(I am not paid to review or suggest books. The reviews are my opinions. However, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so you if click on a picture and make a purchase from Amazon I receive a portion of the sale.)
The Mothers By Brit Bennett. Bennett also starts the book with the reader knowing what the main problem for the protagonist is. She structures the story around a church and the faulty people who make up this community. A fast-paced character driven novel.
Things That Happened Before the Earthquake by Chiara Barzini. Place is a strong character in the story. It’s about an Italian teenager whose parents uproot the family and move to LA so they can pursue their movie making dreams. The book set in the 90’s and is a coming of age story interjected with the intricacies of family.
The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner. As Marin’s carefully ordered life unravels Rachel invites her on a trip of a lifetime. They spend the summer in Provincetown where they fall in love with the town and the people who inhabit it. Heartbreak isn’t far around the corner and each woman must confront her fears about the future but first they must reconcile their pasts.