29+ quotes from Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Quotes from Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng ·  338 pages

Rating: (134.7K votes)


“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“One had followed the rules, and one had not. But the problem with rules... was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time they were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure what side of the line you stood on.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“To a parent, your child wasn't just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all at the same time. You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she'd been and the child she'd become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously, like a 3-D image. It made your head spin. It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Most of the time, everyone deserves more than one chance. We all do things we regret now and then. You just have to carry them with you.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she’d set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there was something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare—a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug—and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control. It scaled walls and jumped over trenches. Sparks leapt like fleas and spread as rapidly; a breeze could carry embers for miles. Better to control that spark and pass it carefully from one generation to the next, like an Olympic torch. Or, perhaps, to tend it carefully like an eternal flame: a reminder of light and goodness that would never - could never - set anything ablaze. Carefully controlled. Domesticated. Happy in captivity. The key, she thought, was to avoid conflagration.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“It bothers you, doesn’t it?” Mia said suddenly. “I think you can’t imagine. Why anyone would choose a different life from the one you’ve got. Why anyone might want something other than a big house with a big lawn, a fancy car, a job in an office. Why anyone would choose anything different than what you’d choose.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“It terrifies you. That you missed out on something. That you gave up something you didn’t know you wanted.” A sharp, pitying smile pinched the corners of her lips. “What was it? Was it a boy? Was it a vocation? Or was it a whole life?”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn't, you might burn the world to the ground.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“I don't have a plan, I'm afraid, but then, no one really does, no matter what they say.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“...the thing about portraits is, you need to show people the way they want to be seen. And I prefer to show people as I see them.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“his life had been divided into a before and an after, and he would always be comparing the two.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“She had learned that when people were bent on doing something they believed was a good deed, it was usually impossible to dissuade them.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“All up and down the street the houses looked like any others—but inside them were people who might be happy, or taking refuge, or steeling themselves to go out into the world, searching for something better. So many lives she would never know about, unfolding behind those doors.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Everything, she noticed, seemed capable of transmogrification. Even the two boulders in the backyard sometimes turned to silver in the early morning sunlight. In the books she read, every stream might be a river god, every tree a dryad in disguise, every old woman a powerful fairy, every pebble an enchanted soul. Anything had the potential to transform, and this, to her, seemed the true meaning of art.

Only her brother, Warren, seemed to understand the hidden layer she saw in things, but then they had always had an understanding, since before he had been born.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“The firemen said there were little fires everywhere,” Lexie said. “Multiple points of origin. Possible use of accelerant. Not an accident.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“In Pauline and Mal’s house, nothing was simple. In her parents’ house, things had been good or bad, right or wrong, useful or wasteful. There had been nothing in between. Here, she found, everything had nuance; everything had an unrevealed side or unexplored depths. Everything was worth looking at more closely.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Maybe at birth everyone should be given to a family of a different race to be raised. Maybe that would solve racism once and for all.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“I'll tell you a secret. A lot of times, parents are not the best at seeing their children clearly.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Everything, she had come to understand, was something like infinity.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Like after a prairie fire...It seems like the end of the world. The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning, the soil is richer, and new things can grow....People are like that, too, you know. They start over. They find a way.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Nearly two decades later, others would raise this question, would talk about books as mirrors and windows, and Ed Lim, tired by then, would find himself as frustrated as he was grateful. We’ve always known, he would think; what took you so long?”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Part of the process," Pearl informed him as they cut through the living room, with the nonchalant air of a native unfazed by the curious customs of the land.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Most communities just happen; the best are planned.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“The photos stirred feelings she couldn't quite frame in words, and this, she decided, must mean they were true works of art.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


“Sex changed things, she realized - not just between you and the other person, but between you and everyone.”
― Celeste Ng, quote from Little Fires Everywhere


About the author

Celeste Ng
Born place: The United States
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