It’s time for the mini reviews again. Why? Because my reviews for the books were lost to Word and cannot be retrieved. I am heartbroken and just plain sad, if I am being honest because I put so much time and effort and they were one of the best reviews I had written. Oh, well.
It’s all gone now. No point crying over it.
So, without any more whining, I will get right into it. There are two reviews this time instead of three and I might have changed the pattern a little bit in terms of the actual review. You’ll see what I mean by that.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.
Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.
Things I Liked:
- This is one of the more complex books I have read, the sheer number of characters that the author made me feel bad for was staggering and seriously, the writing of the characters. Celeste Ng wasn’t playing around when she decided to write this story. She knew them inside out and for a book that isn’t awfully long, she managed to show these characters as real without making it too dramatic. That is some other level of talent and I bow down to that.
- It’s a slow burn (haha, get it?) of a book that initially I wasn’t too into but as the time passed, I could see why it had to be a slow burn. I had to get to know the people, the place and their histories. I loved it. Seriously.
- The diversity in characters in terms of pretty much everything, from gender to social status, to race, to emotional growth. It’s done in such an amazing way. Gosh! I could talk about that forever if I could.
- It is a story of how small fears can play a great role in our lives. For example, Mrs. Richardson and her relationship with Izzy. Was Izzy always bound to be what Mrs. Richardson thought her to be or was she the result of small but very worth looking into actions of Mrs. Richardson? It’s an interesting thing to wonder about and I did wonder about it for a while after I had finished reading the book.
- It is a really immersive book once you get into it, I will admit that it took a while for me to really get into it but the thing is, after page 50 or something I couldn’t let it go.
Things I Disliked:
- The very first thing I have to mention is that….you have to be in a certain kind of mood to read this. At least, that was the case with me. When I started reading it, I wasn’t totally in the mood to read it but I had decided to read it. So I did and the book did its magic on me and I really liked it in the end but even after I read it, I think it’s something of an issue with this one.
- Despite the brilliant writing and plot, there were certain things that I found to be predictable and just a tiny bit convenient? I wasn’t expecting that (which kinda undoes my point but you know what I mean!) in a book that seemed to be filled with awesomeness.
- I am not sure where I read it but when put that way, I could not unsee some things. The Richardson children seemed almost too much like ‘The Breakfast Club’ characters and trust me, at the time I was reading I did have my suspicions as to why these people seemed familiar. Then I read it and the comparison immediately made sense. (It’s not really a bad thing, per se. Just something that I didn’t necessarily liked.)
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
A novel of remarkable depth and poignancy from one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.
It is July 1962. Florence is a talented musician who dreams of a career on the concert stage and of the perfect life she will create with Edward, an earnest young history student at University College of London, who unexpectedly wooed and won her heart. Newly married that morning, both virgins, Edward and Florence arrive at a hotel on the Dorset coast. At dinner in their rooms they struggle to suppress their worries about the wedding night to come. Edward, eager for rapture, frets over Florence’s response to his advances and nurses a private fear of failure, while Florence’s anxieties run deeper: she is overcome by sheer disgust at the idea of physical contact, but dreads disappointing her husband when they finally lie down together in the honeymoon suite.
Ian McEwan has caught with understanding and compassion the innocence of Edward and Florence at a time when marriage was presumed to be the outward sign of maturity and independence.On Chesil Beach is another masterwork from McEwan—a story of lives transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.
Things I Liked:
- For a book with only 166 pages, this book made me feel a lot of things in a short period of time. The writing is concise and impactful and just heartbreaking in the best ways.
- It’s almost shameful how much I could relate to Florence and her woes. Florence and Edward’s story starts out so hopefully albeit awkwardly and then, it just turn into one of the saddest and yet not in a bad way.
- There’s so much packed into this book, from differences in class, sexuality, the weird but important balance of love and sex, and it all happens with such a quiet tone that I was just left breathless at the end of it.
- At first I was too taken in by Florence’ dilemma to feel much for Edward but as the story progressed, I could see how Edward himself was feeling and how it all felt to him and changed him. Frankly, it was all sad but the thing is, I am glad that I read this book despite the tears spent.
- I think Florence genuinely loved Edward and Edward had loved Florence as well but the miscommunication or rather the restrictions of the time period it was set in, that more than anything hurt them both in the end and McEwan showed that in the most heartbreaking way possible.
Things I Disliked:
- I think the thing I truly disliked was the uncertainty of Florence’ sexuality. There were hints of her being abused by her father (whether it was sexually or not is left open to interpretation) and because of that, we never know whether she feels repulsed by sex because of that or whether she genuinely didn’t like sex or the thought of sex. (This lack of certainty tainted my experience a bit.)
- There are moments in the early part of the book where everything was so awkward I almost didn’t read it, I read it because not reading it felt wrong but seriously, the level of awkwardness during the scene is so palpable that I could feel it as if it was happening to me. (Do not read it while you are around people, it’s weird and not worth it.)
And that’s it. Both the books were absolutely amazing in their own ways and frankly, I almost feel blessed that I had the opportunity to read them.
So, have you read these books? If so, did you like them/ dislike them? PLease tell me all about it in the comments. You know me by now, I am just greedy and nosy that way.