3 years on, survived the pandemic unscathed, with less than a handful of books read (blame it on Netflix!) here I am writing a book review again. Who would have thought getting back into finishing an entire book would be so difficult??! But this book broke the reading dry spell for me….
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.
Shaker Heights. A utopia of well planned housing estate and community. Where children do not have to cross a major road to get to school. Placid and progressive suburb of Cleveland where aspiring young people are accepted to the ivy league; a town so meticulously planned to avoid unforeseen events and accidents. No one embodies the Shaker Heights as well as Elena Richardson. Who were born and bred, and gave up her fiancé so that she could come back and live in Shaker Heights.
Enters Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl who rents a house from the Richardsons. Mia, an enigmatic artist and a single mother, with a hidden past is harbouring a secret even her daughter does not know. Pearl is drawn to the Richardsons’ lifestyle, and the Richardsons were drawn to Mia and Pearl Warren. Soon the two families lives intertwined to the point of destructions to all…..
The book was an engrossing read. So engrossed that one weekend night I finished it at 2am in two days. Almost unheard of my recent experience. Without a doubt Celeste Ng has the mastery in drawing a indifferent reader like me into the story. Discuss a topic that is close to every woman’s heart. Motherhood, wanting what is best for your children (whether it’s best for them is secondary), dealing with difficult adolescents, trying to be a good wife, sacrificing career for motherhood. It is also a book about status and class in the society, about race and fight for justice.
I read the book and watched the series on Amazon Prime. The drama series can be a slow burner, some of the plots were different from the book, but the drama does draw out a lot more nuances and comparison between Elena Richardson and Mia Warren. Two women and mothers who are of different background, lifestyles and attitude towards life. The series were supported by many talented young casts; acting out familiar stories of teenage pregnancies, siblings rivalry and feeling belonged or an outcast in school.
Perhaps the most frightening in watching the drama series is that I could see a bit of me in Elena Richardson. The key takeaway I asked myself: As we raised our children, is it more important to be right than be understood?
As the story gave us a preview of the dark and harrowing consequences of the Richardsons’ home on fire, I think the answer is obvious.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Half star deducted just because I prefer a book that ends without any loose ends. However this one does, and it may leave you feeling bereft and think about it long after you put the book down.
Publisher: Abacus 2017, 2020; Length: 388 pages; Setting: Cleveland, USA Source: Library. Finished reading on: 15 October 2022
Welcome back! Great to see that you still have your book reviewing “little fire” burning.
Hey Marvin! it is Amazing to see that you are still here! I would say the little fire for reading has ignited, so hope I get to read and review more books soon; however there are more non-fiction books than fiction ones.
Not my sort of book, but good to see you back reviewing, anyway 🙂
Good to see you and thank you for dropping by, Tony. 🙂