Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Little Fires Everywhere Summary

The story takes place in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights where journalist Elana Richardson lives with her husband and four kids -- Moody, Lexie, Izzy and Trip. Her house has just burned to the ground and a fireman has told her that rather than one fire spreading throughout the house, there were many "little fires everywhere."

We then go back to the previous summer when eccentric artist Mia Warren arrives in town with daughter Pearl to rent an apartment from one of the Richardson's properties, which is located in a more rundown neighborhood. Moody and Pearl become friends, as each one is intrigued by the other. Moody is captivated by Mia's carefree, nonconformist lifestyle while Pearl is enthralled with the Richardson's upscale ways.

Pearl begins to quickly get sucked into the world of upper middle class teenage suburbia despite reticence from mother Mia. She goes to a rowdy party where she hangs out with Lexie and Trip, but gets so inebriated, she has to get a ride home from Moody and subsequently misses her curfew. Moody's attraction to Pearl blossoms, but Pearl seems to have her eye on his better-looking brother Trip instead.

Elana becomes concerned with Mia's obvious struggle to support herself and her daughter, so she brings Mia on as their family's housekeeper. This upsets Pearl, who doesn't want Mia to ruin things with the Richardsons. But once there, Mia begins to ingratiate herself with them, starting with young Izzy, who Mia goads into pranking a teacher at school.

Later, on a museum field trip, Moody and Pearl find a photo of a woman that looks like Mia holding a baby (maybe Pearl?). But when they ask Mia about it, she gets angry and refuses to discuss it.

Mia then interferes in the affairs of Elana's neighbors, who recently adopted an abandoned Asian baby, by telling the real parents where the baby is. The real parents decide they want the baby back, erupting a firestorm throughout the otherwise quiet town. A custody battle ensues and Mr. Richardson opts to represent the adopted parents. Elana discovers that Mia is the one who caused the whole ruckus and decides to secretly investigate her.

Elana tracks Mia's family tree to Pittsburgh. She catches a flight there and locates Mia's parents. She learns that Mia had a photography scholarship that was cut short, and in her desperation to continue school, offered to serve as a surrogate mother for a rich couple. When Mia's parents found out, they were irate over the fact that she would sell her...

(The entire section is 654 words.)