Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Voted the best book of 2017 by Goodreads, I have been chomping at the bit to read this one! It is the story of the Richardson family in the upscale neighborhood of Shaker Heights in Cleveland, Ohio in the late '90s. The Richardson's own a rental property a few blocks from their home, and Elena, the matriarch of the Richardson clan, tries to find tenants who are good people but could use a leg up to live in the rental. Enter Mia, an artist who waitresses and cleans to pay the bills, and her teenage daughter Pearl. They are grateful to find the rental, and after moving every few years her entire life, Pearl begs Mia to finally settle in Shaker Heights. Pearl becomes close with the four Richardson kids- handsome athletic Trip, popular Lexie, sensitive Moody, and the youngest, firecracker Isabel. Moody falls for Pearl, but Pearl has fallen for Trip, and they begin a clandestine relationship, stealing away afternoons at a friend's house.
Meanwhile, Elena offers Mia a job cleaning their house and preparing dinner every evening, which Mia accepts as the hours allow her a lot of time to work on her photography, and Isabel becomes Mia's assistant in the hours after school. Mia keeps her job at a local diner, though, and one of her friends one day comes to her and through sobs describes how she left her newborn baby at a fire station about a year ago, but now she wants her back. Something clicks in her brain as Mia realizes that the baby taken into foster care by some of the Richardson's friends about a year ago must be this baby. The couple have nearly completed the adoption process. Mia makes her coworker aware of the situation, and after convincing herself that the baby is the same one, Bebe enters into litigation to attempt to regain custody of her baby. Mia says nothing to the Richardson's, but the situation grows even more complicated when Mr. Richardson becomes the legal counsel for their friends to try to keep custody of the child. As the case rages, a media sensation, Elena finds out that Mia and Bebe are friends, and using her journalism connections, begins to look into Mia's background, learning a great secret about Pearl's birth. At this same time, with both her parents tied up, Lexie finds out she is pregnant and struggles with what to do.
This novel comes to a huge, explosive climax like few novels out there, and will have you turning the pages as fast as you can, but trying to shield your eyes because you can see the crash coming a mile away. Wonderfully written, and taking me back to my teenage years in the '90s, this was a fascinating read. Unfortunately, there is heartbreak in large measure for nearly every character in this book, but it is such a real situation, that you can see how it happens, and how this heartbreak will affect each of the characters moving forward in their lives- and relate to how the heartbreaks in your life have affected the arc of your life too. Definitely worth reading!