10 Books With Similar Themes or Vibes
The Hulu adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere dropped last month, and the bookternet is rightfully excited. Celeste Ng brings the town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, to life vividly in her sophomore novel, which explores what happens when an outsider moves in, upending the fraught, delicate balance of a community already divided by the adoption journey of one particular family. If you loved the book or are enjoying the series, you might want to check out these books like Little Fires Everywhere that share similar themes.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are rookie cops and neighbours in a suburban town. Their respective children, Kate and Peter, are born a few months apart and their friendship is severely tested one fateful night. We follow them over the next 40 years and watch as these events reverberate down the decades, shaping their love story. “Ask Again, Yes is a powerful and moving novel of family, trauma, and the defining moments in people’s lives,” says Meg Wolitzer.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
It may seem obvious that another book by the same author would be a read-alike, but that’s not always true. Some authors tackle widely varying types of plot or theme, and sometimes there’s a marked difference in quality between books by the same author. Not so with Celeste Ng. Although the plot of Everything I Never Told You is very different from that of Little Fires Everywhere, its starting point that of a dead girl rather than a burning house, it also explores family dynamics and relational flashpoints that lead to the incendiary conclusion of the book.
Family Trust by Kathy Wang
In the vein of Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney’s excellent novel The Nest, this tells the story of adults siblings awaiting a long-alluded-to inheritance. This book has a lighter, funnier tone than Little Fires Everywhere and most others on this list, but it examines some of the same issues. “A story about families and what connects everyone to one another,” as NPR puts it.
The Gifted School By Bruce Holsinger
When a new school for gifted kids opens in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado, it has all kinds of implications for a group of friends who’ve known each other since their children were born more than a decade ago. Secrets, class differences, and resentments come to the surface and affect marriages, careers, and sibling relationships. Like Little Fires Everywhere, this 2019 novel tackles themes of rivalry, jealousy, and the complexity of friendship.
The House Of Deep Water by Jeni Mcfarland
Little Fires Everywhere is set in Shaker Heights, which is the kind of place a lot of people can’t imagine leaving. River Bend, Michigan, is like this, too, and The House of Deep Water tells the story of three women who chose to escape — and now are forced to return and confront scandal. Motherhood, trauma, race, love, and loss are all very present here.
Looker by Laura Simms
Simmering behind every page of Little Fires Everywhere is the theme of obsession and its equally malevolent twin, envy. Looker is a short novel about a college professor who, struggling with childlessness and a failed relationship, becomes obsessed with the actress who lives on her street and has a seemingly perfect life, complete with a hot husband and adorable children. Although it’s quite different from Celeste Ng’s book, Looker is a different take on some of the same issues.
The Most Dangerous Place On Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
I devoured this book about teenagers growing up in wealthy Northern California and their new English teacher from a poorer part of the state who has an idealistic vision of the impact she can have on the lives of her students. She doesn’t understand the tragedy that started online with very real consequences years before her arrival. This is a book for adults about the intensity of adolescence and the sometimes lifelong consequences of the decisions we make during those years — much of which reverberates with the themes of Little Fires Everywhere.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
This beautifully written novel explores, among other things, friendship across social class divide, as well the decision whether to become a mother and how the impact of this decision reverberates down the years — so it’s a great read-alike for Little Fires Everywhere.
The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
This thriller is creepy as heck and has a very different feel from Little Fires everywhere, but it delves into the theme of motherhood as well as the tricky relationship and class differences between employers and their employee, who becomes envious and obsessive and starts to act in very odd — and ultimately destructive — ways.
The Wangs Versus The World By Jade Chang
This is another lighter-in-tone book that explores the dynamics of race and family, as they contend with the loss of a fortune and journey across the country squeezed into a car, negotiating their newfound reality as they go.
Claire Handscombe is the author of Unscripted, a smart read about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan. She also wrote Conquering Babel: a Practical Guide to Learning a Language, and edited a book by and for fans of her favourite series, Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.
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