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Little Fires Everywhere Summary

Little Fires Everywhere Summary

Little Fires Everywhere Summary

Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng


The novel little fires everywhere take place in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Main Characters

Elena Richardson- she is a writer whose work appears in the local newspaper, Elena is a third-generation resident of Shaker Heights and is respected in the community.

Bill Richardson- he is Elena’s is a prominent lawyer in Shaker Heights and he represents the McCullough’s in the court case with Bebe Chow.

Mia Warren- she is a Photographer Mia who has lived a transitory life.

Pearl Warren- she is Mia’s daughter who was conceived for an affluent couple but has never been given any information about the circumstances of her birth.

Lexie Richardson- she is the oldest of the Richardson children. Lexie depends on Pearl when she finds that she is pregnant and wants help when she gets an abortion.

Moody Richardson- he is the youngest Richardson son and has a crush on Pearl from the moment that they meet.

Tripp Richardson- he is attracted to Pearl although he knows that his younger brother is crazy about her.

Izzy Richardson- she is The Richardson family black sheep and sees many faults in her own family. Izzy is drawn to both Mia and Pearl far more than her own mother and sister.

Bebe Chow- she works with Mia at a Chinese restaurant. Bebe is economically challenged and gives up her daughter by leaving her at a fire station, but manages to get on her feet.

Plot Summary

Elena Richardson decides to rent out part of her rental home to Mia Warren and her teen daughter, Pearl. Pearl is the same age as Elena’s youngest son, Moody, and the two are thrown together which leads to Moody developing feelings for Pearl. Pearl, an only child, falls in easily with the Richardson kids, Moody, Lexie, Trip, and Izzy. Pearl envies their stability because her mother has moved their family of two around a lot and she does not feel like she has roots anywhere.

Mia is worried about how much Pearl idolizes Richardson. Elena offers her a job as a housekeeper in the Richardson home, and she takes it so that she can see what Pearl is doing when she is at the house, but she ends up becoming closer to Izzy, who has a strong sense of right and wrong and defending the underdog, although this makes her out of step with her family a lot of the time.

There is a party thrown by one of Elena’s friends which creates a scandal, mostly because of Mia’s involvement. Mirabelle McCullough has adopted a child who was abandoned at a fire station. Mia realizes that she knows the little girl, and her mother, Bebe Chow. Mia used to work with her at a Chinese restaurant and knows that Bebe has been searching for her daughter for some time after giving her up in a panic when she could not take care of her due to her economic situation. When she tells Bebe that her child is with the McCullough’s, Bebe tries to see her but is not allowed to. She involves the local television station at Mia’s suggestion and the resulting publicity means that Bebe is given visitation rights.

An angry Elena learns that Mia’s reasons for helping Bebe were personal. Pearl was actually conceived for an affluent couple who could not have children of their own Mia was their surrogate. As her due date drew closer, Mia realized that she could not give Pearl up, and told the couple that she had miscarried. She disappeared from home around the same time and had not contacted her family since.

Pearl helps Lexie get an abortion, who uses Pearl’s name at the clinic because she does not want anyone to be able to find out that she has been there. When they arrive home, they tell Mia where they have been and Mia takes care of Lexie through her recovery. Pearl is also exploring sex, she and Trip have sex in a friend’s basement, which leads to a relationship, but it also leads to the estrangement of Moody and Pearl, because Moody has always wanted to be with Pearl and is both jealous and furious at his brother’s betrayal.

Elena grows tired of Mia and Pearl. She tells Mia that she knows about the circumstances of Pearl’s birth and tells her she has to leave. Mia is forced to tell Pearl about her father and the two leave without saying goodbye. Izzy is very upset about their leaving and starts to look into Mia’s background. She finds out that Trip and Moody have both used Pearl, and that Lexie has also taken advantage of her friendship. She is enraged and when everyone is out of the house she sets little fires on all of their beds. The fire renders the house uninhabitable, and the Richardson’s move into the rental property vacated in haste by Mia and Pearl.

Having always known Izzy as a wild, untamable child, Elena has always feared that she will lose her someday. This comes to pass when she finds that Izzy has run away, to find Mia’s parents and wait for her there. Izzy is always one step ahead of her, and Elena can’t seem to catch up with her, but as determined as Izzy is to continue to run away, Elena is equally determined to keep looking for Izzy until she finds her.


  1. Order and control. The story takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a planned community governed by rules. Everything about Shaker Heights has been planned to attain and maintain the appearance of order.
  2. Motherhood. The courtroom struggle for parent custody between Bebe Chow and Linda McCullough which pits biological claims against the perception of “best interests” plays out not just as a legal battle, but a morality play over what constitutes a “good mother.”

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