Jul 24, 2020kaitoryn rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
Rather than focusing entirely on what's to come next in its plot, Little Fires Everywhere places just as much emphasis on uncovering the past. (Technically, one could say that everything in the plot is in the past, since Ng introduces readers to the story at its end.) Yet, by "past", I'm referring to the histories of the characters--their backgrounds, childhoods, career journeys, or basically everything that has molded them into the people they are now. Ng strengthens the story with these anecdotes, allowing the readers to fully grasp the complexities of her characters and comprehend the reasoning behind their actions. By doing so, there is an ambiguity in which no character appears as completely good or bad, thus bringing light to the realistic intricacies of the story's topics, such as motherhood.
I also enjoyed how Ng highlights the massive influence of parenting on a child's life and beyond into adulthood. This idea is seen through the behaviors of the adults and the children in the story, and they can be distinguished as those who remain in the tight grasp of their upbringing, or those who eventually break free.
However, I ended up being slightly disappointed with the ending, as I was left wanting for more closure. The ending felt too abrupt, and I had incorrectly expected the children to have some sort of significant involvement in it. While I was a bit let down, I resorted to the conclusion that the author had purposely left the ending in this way. Like how Mia and Pearl abruptly left Shaker Heights, we, as the readers, similarly abandon this story comprised of the past to further stress the idea that only ashes remain, and that there is no resolution but for the characters to start anew.