What Little Fires Everywhere Taught Me
I don’t know about you, but I love a book-turned-TV show. My newest binge has been Little Fires Everywhere, the Hulu original produced by and starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. It's based off a novel with the same name, written by Celeste Ng.
If you haven’t read the book or watched the show yet, you’re missing out. Not only is the story engaging, cutting, and downright beautiful, it shines a light on the dark corners of American life.
Little Fires Everywhere is about two very different families. One big, one small. One black, one white. One rich, one poor. Both are full of love, but neither is perfect. The story begins when Mia Warren moves to suburban dreamland, Shaker Heights, with her daughter Pearl. The two take up residence in the Richardson family's rental property, but end up becoming much more than tenants. The families’ lives become intertwined in a myriad of ways. Different members of the families form relationships that run the gamut from best friends and lovers to enemies.
One of my favorites, though, was the relationship between Mia Warren, a single mom, and Izzy Richardson, the youngest Richardson daughter. Mia becomes Izzy’s mentor and sometimes-mother as they both share the uncomfortable feeling of discontent and the desire to make their mark on the world.
In one scene, Izzy confides in Mia of an incident at her school, in which a teacher mistreats another student. Izzy is angry at the injustice of the act and befuddled by everyone else’s lack of response. She’s hurt. Mia says to Izzy:
“Well, what are you going to do about it?”
I vividly remember both reading and hearing those words. They struck me hard.
There is so much happening in our world, in our country, right now. A devastating pandemic, seismic political contests, and an economic downturn leaving many without jobs or even homes. Oh, and that’s just to name a few.
No matter which side of the aisle you stand, you’re surely feeling the strain, the fear, and the uncertainty that I’m feeling. And it SUCKS.
But Mia’s words ring loudly in my head. “What are you going to do about it?”
Oh. She's right. I can do something. I can wear a damn mask, be anti-racist, donate my time, donate my money, and exercise my rights and vote in the upcoming election.
I am going to do something. And I invite you to join me.
“Well? What are you going to do about it?”
If we each start one fire of justice, compassion, and change, there would soon be little fires everywhere.