Books on Adoption: Background information when reading Little Fires Everywhere

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Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng X
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
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    Sep 2017, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Erin Szczechowski

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Books on Adoption

Print Review

In Little Fires Everywhere, an intense custody battle divides the idyllic suburban town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, into two when Bebe Chow, a Chinese immigrant, attempts to regain the rights to her daughter. The baby is now living with a white family after Bebe was forced to abandon her child during a period of desperation and poverty. While adoption alone is rarely the central theme of most novels, it can add new dimensions to the characters, spark plot points, and raise important questions about morality and identity. Below are five books that approach adoption in different ways.

Books on Adoption

Girls in Trouble by Caroline Leavitt
Set in 1987, this novel centers around an "open" adoption. After Sara's lover Danny learns she is pregnant, he splits, leaving her to deal with the aftermath alone. Sara gives up the baby, Anne, but visits the new parents often – too often. Although Sara wants her baby back, the new family isn't willing to give little Anne up. Both Girls in Trouble and Little Fires Everywhere explore what happens when a mom who gives up her child wants that child back.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch
While this critically acclaimed novel doesn't center around adoption per se, it does focus on foster homes. After her mother is imprisoned for murder, Astrid travels through a series of LA foster homes, with each new home transporting Astrid and the reader along a journey fraught with danger and self-discovery. Although adoption and foster homes are two entirely different concepts, in either circumstance, children must learn to adapt to new surroundings.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
While Wuthering Heights is not focused on the theme, Heathcliff's adoption by the Earnshaws forms the backdrop of the story, and the often cruel treatment of Heathcliff by members of his new family inform his character's development growing up.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
This classic dystopian tale takes place in a community where, technically, everyone is adopted, as birthmothers provide the children who are then distributed to family units. While a children's book, The Giver explores relatively dark themes, and, towards the latter half, begins to investigate the relationship between parent and child, infant bonding, and familial love.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler
This book features two couples who meet at an airport, each waiting to adopt a baby from Korea. Just like Little Fires Everywhere, this novel touches on interracial adoption, although Digging to America explores what happens after the babies are brought home.

This article was originally published in September 2017, and has been updated for the September 2017 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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