Cozy Book Club: Little Fires Everywhere Discussion AND Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rice Krispy Treats

Book Club, Desserts

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

OOF! This book. I never wanted it to end.

Let me preface this by saying that I don’t read a ton. I’m not one of those voracious readers that eats up book after book. I devour movies and TV shows and essays and articles, but not books. So it felt really nice to be enthralled in a story. It’s also somewhat isolating? I’m not sure if that’s the right word but I dig that it’s not a shared experience. You can walk around and replay the scene you just read, think about the characters and it feels like yours.

Let’s start by talking about the characters.

The Characters

Mia Warren – Mother of Pearl, artist, photographer, mentor to Izzy, comforter to Lexie, nemesis to Elena. I love Mia’s character. She’s a fascinating person. And while she makes decisions that are hard to agree with, I understand them.

Pearl Warren – Daughter of Mia, thoughtful and reserved. Exhausted from the instability of their nomadic lifestyle, she admires Elena Richardson because she is all that she craves: stable and structured.

Elena Richardson – Mother of four, part-time journalist and wife to successful lawyer Mr. Richardson. Most importantly, she’s the landlord to Mia, which is how the two characters intersect.

Shaker Heights – The town itself is also a character. Idyllic, quaint and tight-knit. It is the backdrop of the ensemble piece that is Little Fires Everywhere.

Let’s start the discussion part:

1. Who was your favorite character?

My answer: For me the answer is easy: Mia Warren. My favorite thing about this story is that there are zero villains. Yes, Elena is technically the antagonist but I empathize with Elena a lot. I understand her need and desire for structure and adhering to societies’ rules. I respect her it. But obviously, we all root for the person going against the current, the person who risks it all for what they think is the right thing to do. I feel most like Mia. Or maybe I want to be most like her.

2. Who did you relate to the most?

My answer: Hmm…I know this is sort of a cheap answer but I think I relate to all of them in completely different ways. But not one entirely. I relate to Elena’s need for following the path that was laid out for her. I understand Izzy for seeing the BS that is her mother. And I understand Lexie for not telling her mother. I also get why Pearl is almost allergic to her life at the moment but eventually understands.

3. Who did you root for?

My answer: I would say Izzy? I feel for Izzy because she’s going to be the last one there, after all her brothers and sisters graduate and go off to college. She truly wishes she was in Pearl’s shoes. She’s such a gem of a human that it’s painful to know and see her mother be so dismissive of her.

4. Whose side were you on during the custody dispute?

My answer: Well, let me start by saying that Elena is cray for trying to get that info about Bebe. Lol. That woman is psycho. But I get that she was trying to help her friend. She’s still wild.

I obviously was on the side of Bebe and was SO happy she took that baby to China BUT what I loved about this book is that it showed the opposite side. It made me feel conflicted. I felt sad for that woman for not being able to conceive and for everything she went through.

We’re you on the adoptive parents side? I’d be curious if any of you weren’t on Bebe’s side.

OK, so answer some of the questions above. Whichever ones you like.

AND, if you like, ask some more questions and I’ll add them to the blog post!

OH I almost forgot! The recipe! This is inspired by the cinnamon toast that Mia makes Izzy. Instead of cinnamon toast (we don’t really need a recipe for that, do we? even tho this recipe is dope), I added cinnamon toast crunch to rice krispy treats and they were SO good.

Perfectly spiced. I crushed them up so they were similar in size to the rice krispy and it worked splendidly!

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rice Krispy Treats

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Makes 16 (2-inch) squares

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rice Krispy Treats

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag of jet-puffed marshmallows
  • 4 cups rice krispy cereal
  • *2 cups crushed cinnamon toast crunch (about 3 cups before it’s crunched)

Directions

  1. Line a 8x8-inch baking dish with wax paper or parchment. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven (I used a non-stick skillet for easy cleaning), set over medium-low heat, add the butter. When melted, add the marshmallows and stir until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and mix in the rice krispy cereal and crushed cinnamon toast crunch. Mix until the cereal is completely coated in the marshmallow. Quickly transfer and press into the prepared baking dish. I usually use a silicon spatula and press it down firmly so it reaches each of the edges and corners. Allow to cool and then slice and serve.

Notes

*You can either add the cinnamon toast cereal to a bowl and crunch it with your hands. OR you can add it to a ziploc plastic bag and smash it in the bag.

http://www.acozykitchen.com/cinnamon-toast-crunch-rice-krispy/

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46 Comments

  • Reply Amber Faulkner February 8, 2018 at 8:59 am

    I LOVED this book firstly. It kept my interest the whole time and I was always so interested in the way Shaker Heights was run. I also found myself attaching myself to all the different characters in different ways.
    My favorite character was Mia. I thought she was an awesome mom who did the best she could for Pearl. She always tried to make the best out of all the situations she was in. Plus, I loved that she was an artist and photographer.
    I related to Pearl the most by far. I grew up super poor so we were always moving and I never really had anything that was just “mine” growing up. I had to share everything with my brother, including a room for the longest time. So I can totally relate to what Pearl is going through.
    I rooted for Izzy. She is so casted out by everyone and I really feel for her. The whole town talks about her and her mother really isn’t any help and i feel that it would be so hard growing up in a family like that.

    I cannot wait till you pick the next book!! I follow your blog religiously and this was fun for me! It was very relaxing to get back into reading again.

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 10:53 am

      I loved how Shaker Heights was almost another character in the book. And aww yeah, we moved around a lot too (in my early teenage years) and it was really hard. I related to her in that way. I felt like Izzy was the star of that family–she was so special and fragile. AND YAY! So glad you enjoyed it.

  • Reply Sheila February 8, 2018 at 9:27 am

    I so enjoyed reading this book and reading THIS! You’re writing is beautiful and sensitive. I have to admit that I rooted against Bebe. Not that I wished I’ll upon her, but I didn’t think her baby was hers anymore. I think it’s because I worked in the foster care system and cared for babies whose mothers left them at the firehouse- I know what that level of desperation looks like, and people don’t recover quickly. I wanted Bebe to have a fresh start, but knowing the (awful!) foster care system, it would be unlikely in real life that she could get the baby back like that. I also have adopted siblings, so I think that played into it, too. Either way, I thought the author did a great job of helping you empathize with both sides.

    • Reply Sheila February 8, 2018 at 9:28 am

      ill not i’ll

      • Adrianna Adarme
        Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 10:56 am

        Ahh this is an interesting perspective. I’m not a mother but I can’t imagine leaving my child somewhere. I just can’t. But I feel like she was borderline mentally ill at the time of that decision. So it’s hard. Well, she didn’t get the baby back–she stole it back! Yes, it’s a tough call because I also can’t imagine adopting a baby and it being taken from me like that. It’s just oof. It’s all hard.

      • Reply brittany February 13, 2018 at 8:30 am

        Yes! I work in the family court system and I had a hard time not thinking about all the stuff I see on a daily basis regarding Bebe’s actions and how the child had been cared for by the McCulloughs. I wanted custody for the McCulloughs.

    • Reply Emma February 9, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Sheila, I agree with you as well in rooting against Bebe. Having a brother we adopted from Guatemala when he was 13 months old, I could not have imagined having his biological mother trying to take him back from our family. Yes, we are not of Hispanic background, but seeing how he has grown up with our family and everything we’ve provided him (and a planned trip to Guatemala whenever he wants to go!) really made it hard for me to see how life would be better for that little baby with Bebe. I loved seeing both sides of everyone’s situations and the process along they way, and I don’t think readers would have been so conflicted had Ng not been such a phenomenal author. I couldn’t put this book down, either!

      • Reply Heather February 17, 2018 at 1:15 pm

        I agree! I felt bad for Bebe because that couldn’t have been easy. But as I also work in the foster care system, I found it hard to believe this would go to court and all that. In CA at least, when a parent does safe surround, that’s it- they lost all parental rights and custody- no questions asked. But they also can’t decide later they made a mistake and changed their mind. I also felt for the adoptive parents, because it isn’t their fault this happened. I didn’t expect her to steal the baby in the end!

  • Reply Flor Barajas Tena February 8, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Hi Adrianna- I loved this book, I poured over it as well. I think that Celeste Ng is a great story teller.

    Favorite Character: I loved Mia Warren for her courage and for trying to live her passion. I admired that she was a single mother who had to take odd jobs to make her art. As her story was revealed she became even more fascinating to me. You knew that she loved Pearl fiercely and as a mom myself, I know that I am an imperfect mom, but that is ok- I love my kids fiercely. There are too many images of the perfect mother and they can be suffocating as they were for Elena. You knew she was not a happy person.

    Character I can relate to: Oddly, I can relate to Moody. He desperately wanted a friend, someone who was smart and he found that in Pearl. Unfortunately, Pearl wanted to fit in and wanted normalcy that she forgot about her friendship with Moody and preferred Lexie and Trip.

    Who did you root for: Izzy of course. I felt her family had taken away her softness and she was gaining it back during her visits with Mia, but then that was lost. We know that sometimes our families can have very defined and damaging views and we develop skaras. Essentially, this refers to a karmic groove that is carved into our etheric being when significant events happen or statements are made that leave an impression. These samskaras, which are usually carried with us for years, even lifetimes are said to be the root of our problems. For example, I will always be a moody person who throws everything away in my mother’s eyes- funny, sad and true.

    Custody fight: Bebe of course. I think that Celeste was able to show how poor people and especially poor people of color are treated harshly and how they do not get second chances as often because they simply do not have the capital (Lawyers, influential friends, property, education etc.). She shows this juxtaposition brilliantly with Lexie’s abortion. Lexie would not be judged as harshly as Bebe because she was rich, privileged and white – her actions would simply be characterized as a young girl’s mistake.

    This was fun!

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 11:02 am

      I agree, she’s an amazing storyteller. I think the last 50 to 60 pages was just incredible. I loved how everything just came together. I actually really love that Mia was the imperfect, perfect mom. I agree about Elena being suffocating, too.

      I hated that she liked Trip. I was like ugh this is that guy who all the girls like but is so boring. He’s Jordan Catalano (I dunno if you’ve ever watched My-So-Called-Life). But he’s not someone who you would want to be with when you’re 30, you know. Trip is the deep, interesting soul of the two.

      That’s a lovely way of putting it: her family took her softness away. Ugh. How sad. Also thanks for explaining all that–so interesting.

      The author really did portray how difficult it could be for someone to have their voice heard without money, influential friends, etc. I think that’s how a lot of lower class, POC experience our judicial system.

    • Reply Eliane February 9, 2018 at 5:37 am

      I love this response because you’ve voiced everything I was thinking. This notion of perfection people have needs to stop and there definitely is no such thing as a perfect mother, we just need to appreciate everyone for who they are.

      I love that she compared these situations between a person of colour and a rich white person so that people can understand the struggles. This book really did make me think.

  • Reply Adrienne February 8, 2018 at 10:38 am

    The custody case really hit a nerve with me. When I was told we couldn’t have children (we did wind having one) I didn’t consider adoption because at that time, there were many cases of biological parents changing their minds and demanding their children back. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle that. Bebe deserted her child- she left her at a fire station – in the freezing cold! She could have died!!! The note didn’t say “please take care of my baby until I’ve ready to take care of her myself”. Someone else gave that baby love and care. Then “she’s my child, I want her back!” ??? Race and “a different culture” have absolutely nothing to do with this.

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 11:04 am

      This truly would be heartbreaking for an adoptive parent. I can’t even imagine how painful that could be. I also can’t imagine leaving my child in front of a fire station but I do think that Bebe was in mental breakdown mode. I think she was temporarily mentally ill in that moment. She was pushed to her edge and she was scared she herself was going to die. It’s definitely not easy either way. I think the author did a really great job in showing both sides.

  • Reply Pam R February 8, 2018 at 11:27 am

    I absolutely adored this book. I remember seeing it on your Instagram shortly after I had read it and fully encouraged you to start this book club! It’s such an engrossing novel and an easy read for those who don’t read a lot. It was very hard for me to pick a favorite character since I loved them all so much but if I had to choose I think it would be Pearl. Although, I absolutely loved Mia’s backstory and all that goes along with it (so heartbreaking!). Her art and what she left the family was so beautiful and I loved seeing how little objects were used to create something that represented each member so well.

    I was definitely on the adoptive parent’s side. I think it was so sad what happened to Bebe but resorting to stealing a child from the adoptive parents’ house is extreme and I honestly don’t think she had any claim to the child anymore. As much as she herself wanted the child, the adoptive parents essentially almost had full custody and it is just heartbreaking to think that a child they considered their own was taken away from them in such an awful way (kidnapped from their house in the middle of the night!).

  • Reply Libby February 8, 2018 at 11:44 am

    We did this book for our book club this month, too! I LOOOOVED THIS BOOK!
    I think Celeste Ng did an incredible job of displaying so many people and situations where there’s no obvious right or wrong. I mean… for the most part. Even when things happened that I didn’t agree with, like you said, I always saw where the person was coming from.
    In our group, half of us were pro adoptive family and the others were pro Bebe. I’m still not sure how I feel but I’m glad that I was presented with such a complex situation that didn’t show any bias at all.

  • Reply Maclean N February 8, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I didn’t want it to end!
    I loved how pronounced the juxtaposition of people’s situations/beliefs were. For me, this made the messages of the book, “what makes a mother” and “whose rights/desires should take precedence” more impactful.
    For example, Elena couldn’t stand her friends didn’t have an immediate victory for custody of the baby. Simultaneously, her daughter (who initially was so against Bebe and who is beginning to have maternal feelings herself) is having an abortion. On top of all that, Lexie, who was so righteous about her ideas of “what makes a mother” came to Mia. The irony in this, of course, is Lexie thought the McCullough’s should be able to keep the baby because they could provide a better life for her, yet Mia who she turns to, “stole” a baby herself and provided a nomadic lifestyle with only the essentials for Pearl. Yet Pearl and Mia have a strong relationship and not an unhappy life. Pearl and Mia, in a way, are an illustration of what Bebe and her baby could become.
    To me, the relationship between Elena and her daughters and Mia and the Richardson girls was so interesting. Because the “purest” mother of them all (Elena) was the least motherly. To Izzy, she was unnecessarily cruel her entire life, never bonded with her and, ultimately, drove her away from the family. To Lexie, Elena was completely aloof and assumed her daughter was who Elena wanted her to be. And then there is Mia, who acted more like a mother to both of the girls. She is a safe harbor for Lexie, never judges her, and cares for her. To Izzy, she is a confidant, a mentor, and someone Izzy feels safe with. And, in the end, Mia becomes emotionally attached to both of them.
    I could go on and on. I loved how this book made me think and the issues it raises is so timely. The theme of “what makes a mother” is so relatable to issues going on in the USA, “what makes an American”, “what makes a woman a woman”, etc., etc.
    Overall, I thought this book was great at illustrating that peoples actions and reactions are based on situations and the importance of not judging others, especially at face value.

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      YAS YAS to all of this. Pearl and Mia are exactly who Bebe and her daughter could become. You’re so right about that.

      I also love the while Mia is a very imperfect woman/mother in Elena’s eyes (like when she comes over and judges the way she lives), Mia knows what’s going on with Elena’s children more than she does! The irony in that! Lexie and Izzy go to her for guidance, for nurturing.

      I think you’re right about asking the question/theme, “what makes a mother?” I think on the outside Elena looked like the perfect mother, the perfect woman and yet she was so flawed, too. Like we all are.

  • Reply Hillary February 8, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I completely agree with you about the conflicting feelings this book brought out in me, which is what I found so great about it! Once it felt like I made up my mind about how I felt about a character or situation something would happen in the story where my opinion would change. The characters continued to evolve throughout the entire book, which I found fascinating.

    So glad you picked this book and can’t wait to see which one you choose next 🙂

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      I think the conflicting feelings are great! I think that means Celeste Ng is a really good writer; she hit a cord in all of us where we had to ask the question to ourselves. And I had the same feelings, too. I’d be on the adoptive parents side one second and then I’d feel for Bebe another second.

  • Reply michelle loh February 8, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    If it is even possible, i hopped right onto her other book and i found it equally good. Everything I never told you is even more thought provoking, sad and I still remember reading it in like 2 sittings… could not stop. Go get that book. 🙂

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 3:21 pm

      AHH! So good to know, I actually bought Everything I Never Told You but haven’t started yet. I can’t wait.

  • Reply Stephanie L February 8, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    LOVED this book! These characters are still lingering with me a week after finishing it.
    And I love reading everyone’s perspectives… until this discussion, I didn’t notice the juxtaposition between Lexie’s situation and Bebe’s, and the roles race and affluence played there. Very interesting. I think I was just absorbed in the characters and the story, and I didn’t really take a step back until now to analyze things.

    At first, I didn’t like Mia at all. I felt like she was being selfish to Pearl and almost putting her art before her daughter by living the way they did. But as the book went on, she really grew on me. And at the end of the day, she had a better relationship with her daughter than Elena did with either of hers.
    That said, I know it probably sounds crazy, but I was rooting for Elena. I really wanted her to get over her sh*t with Izzy and evolve a little bit. That didn’t really happen, but I was hoping for it.

    Also, this is random, but does anyone else sometimes picture actors and actresses in the roles when they’re reading? Like for me, Elena was totally Reese Witherspoon, and Trip was Steve from Stranger Things. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      I definitely started the book feeling odd vibes about Mia. I’m not gonna lie. I really wanted her to stay put for Pearl’s sake. I wanted a normal life for Pearl. There were times when I definitely felt badly for Elena. I felt badly that she didn’t know how to just be real, true self. I think her true self was probably more like Mia than she’d care to admit.

      AND yes! I can totally see Elena being played by Reese. She basically is kinda that character in Election (as a teenager) and Big Little Lies.

  • Reply Tempa February 8, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Loved this book! It’s been a goal of mine to get back into reading (especially before bed instead of looking at my phone) and this was the perfect book! My favorite character was Mia. I just found her backstory the most fascinating to unfold and, while I didn’t always agree with her, her reasons for making her choices were so complex and deep-rooted. I rooted for Pearl the most. I just wanted her to find her place. After so much moving and the promise of some permanence, I wanted for her so badly to find some stability and confidence. I hated the whole Trip fling and how it ruined her friendship with Moody. In the custody battle I couldn’t figure out who I was rooting for. I really felt for both sides and love how the story was told in that way. Ultimately, once Bebe took the baby to China, I felt glad for Bebe but sad for the McCulloughs…
    I also really loved the time period this was told in. I was in high school during the same time as the Richardson kids so the descriptions of their social lives resonated with me.
    Can’t wait to get started on the next book pick for February! #cozybookclub
    p.s. Thank you for posting a recipe inspired by the book – I love this kind of thing! I can’t wait to make these!

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      I honestly felt more for the couple in New York. When she left with Pearl, I cringed. I liked them. They seemed like the loveliest people. For some reason, I felt more for them than the couple in Shaker and I think that’s because Elena tarnished them for me with all her BS. Lol.

      I hated Trip. He honestly didn’t seem like the worst kid. But Moody was for her. He was so sweet and I felt like appreciated Pearl.

      Same. I felt happy for Bebe, too. But sad for them because the thought of them going into that room with it completely empty…OOF.

      I also loved the 90s backdrop, it was amazing. The Ford Explorer! Haha.

  • Reply Jenna February 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    I loved the book and can’t wait to find out what the next book is! I definitely wavered with who I supported during the custody case. Although I definitely felt for Bebe and her lack of any support network around the time she had the baby it broke my heart a bit to read the bits about the baby being malnourished and left in the snow! Even though the story showed she did the best she could with the limited resources available to her. I have relatives who adopted/ fostered-for-life two kids and they would be absolutely shattered if anything happened to their kids, so I couldn’t be happy about Bebe stealing the child back! The two infertile women in the book both got a super raw deal, finally thinking they were going to have the chance to be mothers, before having that dream ripped away from them.

    • Reply Jenna February 8, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      Oh also I thought Elena/ Mrs Richardson’s response to Izzy being missing was pretty weak “oh I’ll look out for her face every time I’m in a crowd”. GET OUT THERE AND FIND YOUR DAUGHTER, you had all the investigative journalist skills in the world when it came to snooping into Mia’s past and illegally looking up abortion records and now you’re just going to leave it up to the police to find your kid? LOL

      • Reply Maclean N February 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm

        Yes! Part of me thought Izzy leaving would make Elena come to and realize at the end of the day, even though she may be a difficult daughter, she loves her no matter what. Especially because Elena’s temperament towards Izzy was framed from a place of love (her not wanting to get hurt as a young child, seeing her as fragile, etc. etc.).
        I so badly wanted Elena to realize what was going on around her and how blind she had been to Trip and Pearl’s relationship, realize Moody was hurting, find out it was actually Lexi who got the abortion. Perhaps the art Mia left her was an allusion that would happen in future; that her cage was crumbling. At the very least, I like to think what Mia left her made her understand, no matter how much we might want control, when we are to rigid with it, things/we fall apart.

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 8, 2018 at 9:07 pm

      I really felt for the Ryans. I totally disagreed with Mia stealing Pearl…more than Bebe stealing her baby for some reason. I think Elena’s craziness made me empathize with Bebe more.

      • Reply Tricia February 9, 2018 at 2:49 pm

        I sympathized a lot with Mia taking Pearl mostly because she was traumatized from the death of her brother. I don’t think she would have otherwise.

        Also—I live in a different suburb of Cleveland, and I loved how well Celeste Ng painted Shaker Heights! She really got it right.

  • Reply Ricki Jill Treleaven February 8, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Before I answer the questions, I want to say that of all the books I’ve read the past year (and I read a lot….I’m basically a book blogger) this is in the top three of those I REALLY want to discuss. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments so far! Also, thanks for the rice crispy treat recipe. We love them, and the cinnamon will make them extra special.

    I liked this book, but I wish there’d been more closure at the end. Throughout the book the “future” was hinted at as it was told in flashback. I especially wanted closure for Izzy.

    1. Who was your favorite character? Definitely Izzy. I think she has tons of potential as a musician and artist. She seems dedicated to her violin, and that takes so much discipline. I also loved how she stood-up for her classmate. Girl power!

    2. Who did you relate to the most? Again, Izzy. I can relate to her childhood in ways although I didn’t burn anything down. ;P I cannot relate to any of the mothers because with the exception of Linda. Mia, Elena, and Bebe are all three train wrecks. And I know what I’m talking about because I’m a kick ass mom! Just ask my daughters! ;P

    3. Who did you root for? One way I rooted for Elena is to get to the bottom of Mia’s story. What Mia did to the Ryans, especially Mr. Ryan and to Pearl was horrible. What about Pearl’s rights to a relationship with her father. Bad Mia! BAD!!!!!!

    4. Whose side were you on during the custody dispute? Baby Mirabelle. Bebe couldn’t care for her, and I have to disagree with you about her returning with her to China due to the dire human rights record for women in China. I thought that Bebe’s attorney was ridiculous in his arguments about Chinese culture. No wonder they lost!

    I also must add that I’m the godmother to a young lady who was adopted from Russia (so I’m admitting to a bias). I recently read a book entitled You Don’t Look Adopted, and it gave me so much to think about concerning the feelings of abandonment adoptees sometimes suffer from….

    I enjoyed this book, and I appreciate your hosting the book club. I look forward to your next selection! BTW I enjoyed this so much I’m featuring it as my Indie Next List feature for my February Sketchy Reader Letters. 😀

  • Reply Cinnamon Crumb Cake Single Serve Cups February 8, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Hello ADRIANNA,
    Thank you for sharing…
    VERY NICE! Feel Very excited to read every recipe and share love one to make happy.

    Thank you

  • Reply Bri February 8, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    I feel like the worst person after reading all the comments! I agree that there were no villains. But I don’t love Mia. I’m so mad at her for stealing Pearl and denying her a relationship with her father, who very much also wanted her. I also don’t love the constant uprooting of their lives, though I think understand it? The part where Mia became a light for Izzy is lovely, but I feel like Izzy needed to know why her mother treated her differently. That context may have changed things for them. Of course, Elena needed a good slapping. Her behaviour was unethical and just plain wrong. I feel for the McCulloughs. Bebe was in an impossible position that no one should ever be in, but… Stealing back a baby is certainly no way to handle anything. I respect the law’s decision. We’ve all been Pearl, hoping that the cool, handsome boy would like us, right? Trip didn’t do the wrong thing by her, he was falling for her. I’m sad Moody was collateral damage. It’s probably not the first or last time that’s going to happen to him.

    • Reply Taylor February 9, 2018 at 10:35 am

      I totally agree with you, I was not a Mia fan, she just seemed selfish to me. Obviously Elena has her faults too (and definitely needs therapy…), but I didn’t see Mia in the same light as everyone else seems to.

  • Reply Eliane Amart February 9, 2018 at 2:58 am

    First of all I just want to say how much I loved this book. I love to read and the books I stumble across including this one, always end up surprising me.

    My favourite character was Mia plain and simple. She harbours traits that many people can relate to and not just as a mother but as a sister/student/dreamer. I love how easy it was for her to connect with the other characters (not Elena) and especially how she made the Richardson daughters feel. I love my mother but she would not have done for those girls what Mia did in particular when she found out about Lexie’s abortion. I rooted for her all the way to the end even when I found out she kept Pearl away from her father.

    I don’t think I related to just one person in particular. I’d say Mia because I admired her as a single mother still doing what she loves and chasing her dreams. I’m the daughter of a single mother and she’s a chef for a living, something she’s always loved and aspired to be yet I know she made sacrifices on my behalf because she always wanted things to be stable for us. I love that even though it’s uncomfortable, Mia has made it work for her and Pear in some ways even though to us it would seem uncomfortable. The second person I relate to is Pearl because I too am an only child and I understand the longing of a larger family who have nicer things than I do. She like myself just wanted a bit of normality that the Richardson’s had to offer and I found myself wanting this during my teenage years. She wanted more than a relationship with her mother, she wanted friends and a boy she liked to finally pay attention to her and not just admire him from a distance.

    I rooted for Izzy too because I wanted her to realise she wasn’t doing anything wrong. Her mother was holding the struggle she had with her as a baby against her, and that’s just unfair. I understand that parents especially mothers worry but Elena turned that worry into something negative that eventually turned Izzy against her. I wanted Elena to realise the strong, brave and lovely daughter she had in Izzy. Izzy stuck to what she believed in and even though it didn’t make sense to burn the house down I really hoped she would return one day after running away.

    During the case I was a little torn because I understand why Bebe did what she did but then I also knew that the child would have such a comfortable life staying with Linda and her husband. However when they asked Linda what she would do to make sure Mirabelle/May Ling would always know about her culture I realised that it would be a mistake for the baby to stay with them. You could tell Linda was never really going to teach her about her Chinese culture because she had no absolute clue where to even start. I was extremely happy when BeBe stole her and took her back to China 🙂

    I personally would hate to live somewhere like Shaker Heights. If the people there are anything like Elena then they live on a completely different world to me. Nothing is ever perfect, people break the rules and make the wrong decisions and no one should ever feel the need to point fingers and make people feel like they are living their lives the wrong way.

  • Reply Taylor February 9, 2018 at 10:33 am

    First, I LOVED this book, simultaneously didn’t want to stop reading because I wanted to know what happened and wanted to stop so it lasted longer! I was actually pleasantly surprised by this because I didn’t love Everything I Never Told You, which is by the same author. While one of my favorite things about all the characters was that no one was black and white, good or evil, they were all shades of gray, but that being said Mia and Elena both drove me crazy but for entirely different reasons. Elena for trying to make everything “perfect” and Mia for seemingly being different just to be different. It was easiest for me to relate to Pearl and Lexie but I agree that you can’t help but root for Izzie. In terms of the baby I could see both sides and it was such a hard situation but I definitely sided with the family and against Bebe. I understand that she was in a tough situation but the baby was no longer hers, the family cared for her a year, and she was theirs. And Mia’s part in that and her siding with Bebe made sense but just didn’t sit well with me because what she did, essentially stealing Pearl from the family in NYC, was just so terrible, so that definitely influenced by feelings on it. On a more general note, I really enjoy seeing how everyone else responded to this book and absolutely LOVE that you started this book club. I read all the time, but having a place to discuss a book is super nice 🙂

  • Reply Stephanie February 10, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Devoured this book and the Glass Castle and now I’m wondering WHAT WILL BE THE NEXT BOOK?! Zomg too excited.

  • Reply Christy February 10, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I know I’m in a very small minority here but I absolutely hated this book. I found Elena’s character to be so wildly vindictive, it actually made me sick. While I was on Bebe’s side, my heart broke for the adoptive parents. Having suffered 2 miscarriages myself, I had a really hard time with the fact that this book glossed over the adoptive parents journey of infertility and miscarriage, making them seemingly minor characters in the plot, and ending with them losing yet another baby. To me, Elena didn’t even care about that, she wanted to “win” for herself while taking down Mia with her. She was selfish and hateful and every part of me wanted to give up this book but I didn’t and, in the end, I really didn’t like it. I feel like the author could have easily written the same story without such a heartbreaking reality for the adoptive parents but the way this was written, was really disheartening. I joked that the subtitle of this book should have been: “And they all lived miserably ever after.” While I don’t expect every book I read to have a happy ending, I hated that everyone’s miserable ultimately came down to Elena’s meddling. I think Mia did the right thing telling Bebe about the baby and I think Bebe did what she felt like she had to do in the end, but all of the in between? I really hated that.

  • Reply Cindy Rahe February 10, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    I loved this book! It was a great read and I burned through it super quickly. I connected with it on a very personal level as the child of a single and immigrant mother, as someone who felt like they disappointed everyone during my adolescence, as a mother, and basically just as a woman in this world. I love when characters are complicated, it makes them feel like real people and those are always the kind of stories I like to read. I was angry at some of the characters a lot, especially Elena. I found her to be full of such hypocritical, faux-liberal bs. I wanted to scream when she was snooping on her “friends” computer at the clinic. I also struggled with Mia’s decisions (taking Pearl away over and over) but felt a little more sympathy for her because I was raised by a single mom. I felt for Bebe for the same reason, she was a single mother in an impossible position and an immigrant in a strange place where people made a lot of assumptions about her that stood in the way of caring for her child. My mom is also an immigrant who had two very young children and my dad died about a year after we moved to the US, so I really internalized Bebe’s story and did not want to see her lose. I also honestly thought she was going to kill herself. Of course, I felt for the adoptive family (infertility is a real bitch), it was just so complicated and I think that’s the mark of a great storyteller. But, I agree that Elena’s involvement with them made me feel less sympathy than I maybe would have otherwise. I also really connected with Pearl wanting that life that Elena gave her children, I wanted that too when I was young and felt like an outsider. I also connected with Izzy on a very personal level because she was so misunderstood by her family and I could not get past Elena’s treatment of her. I could say so much more, but I’d totally be rambling.

  • Reply Evelyn Martinez February 12, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    It was a little slow to start, but I really enjoyed it. I would jump from one character to another for my favorite. Overall though it would have to be Mia and Izzy, because they kept to themselves for the most part and didn’t care what others thought of them. I like that Moody was a good friend to Pearl and good brother to Izzy, but he really pissed me off at the end (but I probably would have been hurt too if I were him). The story totally made me reminisce of my teenage years and how lame I was *SIGH* Good times! LOL

    I was able to relate to Mia the most I think, although I don’t agree with what she did in lying to that couple and just taking off. I mean I understand why she agreed to do it initially, but I guess you really don’t know what you’d do once you feel that life growing inside you. I was happy when my daughter was born because I was so over being swollen and uncomfortable, but when she was officially out of my body I was a bit sad and scared because I knew I’d have to share her with other people, and she wasn’t going to be protected in the bubble in my body anymore (sounds crazy I know!) Anyway, sorry that was off topic. But I like Mia because she wasn’t judgy and she genuinely cared for the Richardson kids and LISTENED to them.

    It was hard to choose a side – but to be honest, I felt like Bebe could have gone to a shelter, I’m sure there must have been women’s shelters at that time to help her out, right? – That was a tough case, and I can only imagine what it would be like having your child taken from you (Reminds me of the book “The Light Between Oceans”, also depressing [Why do I read depressing stories all the time?!])

    I hope Izzy finds Mia or just finds her way in the world, same with Pearl, they both have a lot of growing up to do – You honestly don’t know what you want until you’re in your 30’s!

    Whats the next book?!?

  • Reply Patricia March 28, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Hi! What kind/brand skillet are you using? It’s *exactly* what I’ve been looking for.

    Ain’t gonna stop me from making these Krispies, tho. Thanks!

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme March 30, 2018 at 8:35 am

      hi! here’s a link! it’s a great pan for things like rice krispy treats bc it’s non-stick–it cleaned SO easily.

      https://amzn.to/2IdkM9V

      • Reply Patricia March 30, 2018 at 11:08 am

        You angel! Thanks!

  • Reply Waleska April 25, 2018 at 5:18 am

    I loved this book but I was very disturbed by the ending and even more so with so much support for it. I rooted for Izzy but was appalled by her actions at the end of the story and liked Mia at first but less so near the end. Izzy did have a tough time in the familial role that was forced upon her, but she wasn’t beaten or abused. True she was misunderstood and not appreciated but she was feed, clothed and loved. Her parents were flawed but only wanted the best for her and did everything they felt they could for her, though it can easily be seen it was a poor parenting job. However, Izzy burning down the family home, endangering the surrounding homes and firefighters, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages (possibly millions), destroying every family members material and sentimental possessions, family heirlooms and who knows what else. This is a clear sign that Izzy suffered from severe psychological issues and she will get help hopefully after she faces the consequences of multiple felony charges. Meanwhile her parents will no be able to recoup their financial loss from insurance since the fire was due to arson committed by a child whose actions they are legally responsible for. Additionally, her parents can get sued by anyone hurt through her actions and will definitely be subject to substantial fines. The negative effects upon her siblings lives also could be severe. Now Izzy is on the lamb, if she is lucky the police will catch up to her and return her to her parents because everyone knows the horrible things that can happen to a desperate 15 year old girl on her own, especially one who grew up in a privileged home and with no real understanding of the real evils she could face. Yes, her home life wasn’t perfect but I doubt life on the streets will be near as good.
    Now for Mia, she is portrayed so positively throughout the book but near the end some glaring and selfish flaws emerge. While trumpeting the fact that Bebe and everyone can make a mistake but it shouldn’t define them, she was very quick to judge her grieving parents poor choice in behavior and decided they never deserved another chance, removing not only herself but their only grandchild forever from their lives and stealing her daughters chance at knowing them, none of their actions in the book seemed to merit this cruel decision. Additionally, Mia decided to ignore the parental rights of Pearl’s father, a man she described in nothing but positive and loving terms. Instead Mia spent 17 years hiding from the responsibility of her choices, and the law, denying her daughter a chance to know her father (years with him she will never be able to recoup), who knows, he may be dead, she may never get to know him and him her. True Mrs Richards suffered from hubris, believing her views and choices were superior, but Mia did as well. Obviously the author wished to slant the readers feelings towards Mia’s views, not being nearly as critical in her appraisal of Mia’s choices and behaviors, and playing upon the near universal negative bias most people harbor towards those who have more than they do, the lucky privileged ones who don’t have to work like we do just to get by, is dismissive low hanging fruit in what looked to at first be a more nuanced, sophisticatedly written story. The end of the book was just sad and there were no heroes, just victims, nothing positive seemed to be gleaned by anyone, especially Izzy an Mia. My only hope is that Bebe’s baby survived to enjoy the richness of her cultural heritage, the poor infant was dealt a bad hand at birth, hopefully it got better and not worse in China but the odds are extremely against that sadly.

  • Reply Donna June 15, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I loved this book too and have to admit that although I was deeply conflicted I rooted against Bebe in the custody battle. After taking a long time to finally conceive my daughter I could totally emphasise with the pain felt in not being able to have a child when you so desperately want one. Now I finally have her I honestly couldn’t imagine ever abandoning my baby no matter how bad my situation was. I’d be crying to strangers on the streets begging them to do something! Language barrier or not. Also.. why leave her out on such a cold and snowy night. I know she was getting hungry etc but still. This is a really interesting novel looking at what it takes to be a mother but I felt uneasy with Mia’s character, almost self righteous in her morals and completing ignoring the other aspect of this which is fatherhood. Pearl had two parents. Imagine the joy Joseph would have felt knowing he was a father. Even in the the circumstances Pearl and Joseph deserved to know. It seemed that Mia merely ran away when life got complicated rather than face up to it all. At times her character just comes across as wreckless and self fish.

  • Reply Donna June 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    *selfish

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