Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by [Ng, Celeste]

I cannot get this story out of my head. The intricacies of the characters’ relationships, the depth of emotion, the shattering of lives left me with an urge to dive into the novel and sort everyone out. If you’d just mind your own business, I screamed in my head, If you only knew. A vivid depiction of the importance of knowing the facts before acting and then asking yourself, “Is this any of my business?”


In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors 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 teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.


Will I be sorry I threw out my old photos?


I spent the last two days going through three huge boxes of old photos from the pre-computer days with the original intent of scanning them to my computer.

Instead I threw the vast majority into the recycle bin.


  • The photos were not the greatest quality as I didn’t have a good camera in those days.
  • I’m not and never have been a good photographer. I blame this on poor eyesight and (more accurately) lack of real interest.
  • I had three questions as I looked through the pictures. Where is this? What is this? Who is this? If I couldn’t answer even one of those questions, I junked the photo.
  • Very often a fourth question came to mind. Why ever did I take this picture? And to the junk pile it went.

What did I keep?

  • Pictures of family, but only the ones of people I recognized and remembered. Why, oh why didn’t someone label those old photos, I asked myself as I leafed through them. And then, in the quandary of deciding what to do with each one, this question popped into mind. What, I thought, is the point of keeping a picture of some relative I don’t remember? How would I explain who he or she was to my granddaughter? And why would my granddaughter care about a stranger?

Will I regret the great “cull?”

  • I don’t think so.
  • I hope not.

Did I make a huge mistake?

What do you think?

What have you done with your old photos?

The wisdom of kids or Deciphering the family tree

Munchkin: Grandma, who’s that?
Me: That’s my mommy’s mom when she was a little girl.
Munchkin: Oh, so that’s mommy’s grandma.
Me: No, that’s your mommy’s great grandma and your great great grandma.
Munchkin: Oh, I get it! The older you are and the more time that passes, the greater you are.

A picture paints 300 words for this prairie girl

This story was inspired by Anneli’s challenge to write 300 words about her picture above taken in Montana. I lived in Saskatchewan as a child so this scene is familiar to me.


The Farm

She pulled the wooden chair over to the wall, climbed up on it and turned on the radio. Hop-Along Cassidy, her favorite show was coming on and with her ear glued to the radio, she wouldn’t miss even one word of it.

Suddenly, her dad ran into the kitchen—without even taking his boots off—calling for her mother. She wanted to ask him to be quiet, but knew better and plastered her ear even harder against the radio speaker.

Her mother came in from the bedroom. “What’s wrong?”

“My wallet. I’ve lost my wallet.” She shivered for the voice coming out of her father’s mouth didn’t sound like him.

“Here,” her mother said, shoving the baby into her arms, and switching off the radio. And then her parents were gone. Scared to get off the chair with the baby in her arms, she stayed where she was. She tried reaching the knob to turn the radio back on, but wasn’t able to hold the baby with just one hand.

From where she stood, she could see out the small porch window. The tractor and harrow stood in the middle of the field and her parents ran around madly, with their heads down as if searching for something.

A very long time later, her mother came in and took the baby from her aching arms. She climbed down from the chair and put it back by the table. Then her father came in. He was crying. She’d never seen him cry before and the great sobs tore at something inside her.

“Forty dollars?” her mother asked.

Her father nodded.

“It was supposed to last us the winter.”

Her father nodded again and sank onto one of the kitchen chairs, staring down at the floor. The silence seemed to drag on forever. They went to bed soon after. Her mother didn’t even cook dinner that night.

The Travelling Dress


It’s traveled a long way—that little dress. From the shop in Melita, Manitoba where the young 16 year-old aunt bought it for her niece to the country one-room school house in Saskatchewan, where the niece wore it for her first day of school.

From there it was worn for special occasions, the hem let down as the niece grew until the dress no longer fit. The mother folded it carefully and stored it in the cedar chest where it rested for several years, moving from the country to the city, from the mother’s house to the niece’s when she married.

Then the dress, with the hem raised was worn by the granddaughter on her first day of school in Alberta, after which it was packed away in the cedar chest for who knew if there would be a great granddaughter/grandniece to wear it yet again.

And there was. In 2014, off to school the dress went (with the hem let down, for this young lady is taller than her mother and grandmother were at the same age) for yet another first day—this time in British Columbia. Where is it now? In the cedar chest of course. Perhaps it will be worn yet again in the years to come.

The dress is a brand called Curly Lox made in Canada.

Girdle Testing



“The doctor says she needs to wear a full body girdle after her surgery. She has one, but here they are made of rubbery material. You can imagine how uncomfortable that will be. Could you get her one while you’re in Canada?” asks my neighbor.

“Sure,” I say. We’ll be home for only a couple of days to do some business, but I can squeeze in a trip to the store. “How do I know what size?”

“I’ll get you the one she has to take with you.”

My aunt and I go girdle shopping and find two we think will work. Back in Mexico I deliver the girdles. I find Papa and a couple of her brothers in the street in front of the family restaurant. I ask for her, but she’s not home so I pass the bag to Papa.

He pulls out a girdle and holds it up against his ample belly, then holds it at arm’s length and pulls it this way and that to test the elastic. I glance up and down the street, but, thankfully, no one seems to be paying him any notice.  But then, why am I surprised at that? Life in Mexico is often lived in the street.

Papa and the brothers have a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of my purchase, check out the second girdle and finally deem them suitable. Papa sends one of the brothers to the till to get the money to pay me.

I never do meet her to ask if the girdles were a good fit. I can only hope.