How I Read It: Audiobook
Dates Read: 11/8/19-11/13/19
How I Found It: Goodreads
As humans, we keep secrets. Heck, my demon child of a dog keeps secrets. It is just a part of nature. In this novel, we take a look at secrets, since everyone has them, and how secrets can build and/or destroy a person.
In the 1990s, a fire starts in a prominent family’s house. As the parents and children of the house congregate outside, they learn that the fire began as a bunch of little fires in all of the rooms. But one daughter is missing, and this story is about how we got there.
Mia Warren is a photographer and a single mother of daughter, Pearl. After she works on a project for her photographs, Mia picked up everything she could fit in her car and move to the next city to think of new ideas. After traveling for 17 years, Mia decides that this time was the last time. She rents a home from the Richardson’s in a small town called Shaker Heights outside of Cleveland, OH, and soon both Pearl and Mia find themselves entangled in the Richardson’s lives.
The Richardsons (Elena and Bill) have 4 children: Trip, Lexi, Moody, and Izzy. Trip is the stereotypical popular boy, while Moody is the stereotypical nice guy. As you can probably expect, Moody likes Pearl but Pearl chooses Trip. Lexi is the popular girl who has made Pearl her pet project, including giving clothes. Izzy was a problem pregnancy, which led Elena to often be overbearing. Izzy often felt like the unwanted child in the family, so she seeked solace from Mia.
One day, while working for the Richardsons, Mia overhears that Elena’s friends are trying to adopt a Chinese baby that was found at a fire station. Mia knew that one of her coworkers, Bebe Chow, dropped off her baby because she felt incapable of taking care of her daughter. But almost a year later, she is capable of providing a life for her child and seeks full custody of her. This puts Mia and Elena against each other.
Along the way, Lexi finds herself in trouble, and needing a friend, she goes to Pearl. Trip and Pearl begin a relationship, and try to hide it from all the Richardsons and Mia. And Elena is trying to figure out who Mia is and whether she should be concerned for her family. And slowly, Mia is piecing together everyone’s secrets.
The book itself is extremely interesting, and has incredible character development. It is clear that Ng truly felt her characters as alive. In the process of making her characters 3D, it can be difficult to keep up with where the story is going. However, once we get through most of the backstory, it is easier to see the purpose of these intermissions.
While everyone I know has said that this is one of the best books of our generation, I just didn’t find it as entertaining as other novels. I think that it is important, and there is a strong conversation about racism in America during the 1990s (and realistically, a lot of those thoughts are still true for today’s society) and after what makes a woman a mother, but I probably wouldn’t have gotten through this book if I wasn’t listening to it on Audible (still not sponsored, but still hoping).
So I guess I should tell you why I picked it up. I had purchased this audiobook over a year ago and I just never selected it until now. One of my favorite actors right now is Kerry Washington (okay, yes I have been binge watching Scandal and sure, I may be watching it while I am writing this, so what?), and she announced on The Ellen Show that she would star in a Hulu miniseries based on the book. I wanted to read this before it came out (and realistically wanted to put out a review before it came out), so tada here it is. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, with the hope that the miniseries can do it justice.
If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!