Is it possible to write about a book you’ve read and didn’t viscerally respond to without discouraging that book’s other potential readers? Is it possible to recognize a book’s many qualities and still say that your experience reading it wasn’t exactly satisfying? I am going to try and do this with Celeste Ng’s novel Little Fires Everywhere, a book that has been highly praised, both online and in newspapers and has managed also to be a bestseller and seems to be a favorite of many people.
Ng is a fine writer. She tells a compelling story, and at the center of Little Fires Everywhere is a provocative moral dilemma. This novel—her second— is, for these reasons, impressive.