Celeste Ng has a rare talent for taking readers into the hearts and minds of her characters. - Herald SunAn absorbing story of complex relationships - Weekend WestNg has a genuine gift for capturing family dynamics, whether it be a mother's spiky, protective love for her child, or the intense bond between siblings. The perceptive writing creates some fascinating and unsettling interactions between characters, and makes for a highly satisfying read. - Sunday Times Perth
A compulsive, brilliant novel about race, identity, family and secrets for fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith.
I struggled with writing the review as I’m not sure words can describe what a wonderful piece of modern literature this is. Plot descriptions seem to take away from the artistry of the words but I will attempt to surmise this tale of beautifully entwined real but scarred characters.
The story takes place in an upper-middle class suburb of Cleveland - Shaker Heights. At the very start of the novel we are witness to a house burning down however we then go back about a year in time to find out what led up to this event.
The house that was burning was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Richardson. Elena Richardson is a person who has always followed the rules she has worked as a journalist. The Richardson’s have four children; son’s Trip and Moody, and girls Lexie and Izzy... all is very conventional.
The story really begins when we are introduced to the two new tenants of a small house in the back owned by the Richardson’s. The tenants are a woman named Mia and her daughter Pearl. Mia is an eccentric and talented artist and her daughter Pearl is 14. The two of them have had a nomadic life barely living off the money Mia makes selling her art. This time Mia promises Pearl that they will stay and finally settle down, building roots and Pearl is delighted.
As the year progresses, the Richardson’s and Mia and Pearl all interact and the children enjoy having the new neighbours, however as time goes on, something happens that causes Mrs. Richardson to delve back into her journalist roots and when she looks into Mia’s past, everyone is in for some surprises...
Celeste Ng is so gifted her stories touch you deeply and leave me thinking and feeling for the characters for days after I’ve finished it. As the story unravels, we discover ordinary people who had to face harsh experiences and are now silently carrying their scars.
If you like stories of entangled human relationships coupled with kindness and wonderful prose this is a great read. After all, those in glasses houses shouldn't throw stones... I really enjoyed it
Nicely written but I'm not sure why this book is rated as being any different to all of the other stories in the 'rich white people who actually have dark secrets' genre. At times the characters interested me, although never captivated me. There were major themes, such as why Izzy was treated dfferently, that were explained away in a few paragraphs. The plot was fairly basic andnothing extraordinary, and sometimes the author invested a lot of effort into trying to write ... musically, almost, but it came off as unnecessary. I can appreciate why some may love this book but it just wasn't for me.
This was a terrific read. I loved every minute of reading it. The author Celeste is an incredible writer. All characters described well and never confusing even though there lots of interesting things going on in the story - I just loved the story line and will certainly read another by this author
I enjoyed this book but couldn’t help the frustrated feeling I had once it was over. There were a lot of loose ends and the ending seemed a bit implausible. I felt for Pearl, and hated Mia. I’m not sure if this is what the author wanted but I found almost every character, other than Pearl, annoying.
I devoured this book and loved how intertwined all the characters were. Wonderful to see a book telling a story about the complexity of families. I would have loved a bit more depth the Trip and Pearls relationship but perhaps that was the point, that there wasn’t much.