5 Lessons I learned from “Elena Richardson” after reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

After reading the story “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng, I reflected on not only the plot but the lessons learned from many of the characters in the story. As most stories, we end up learning most of our life lessons from the villains of the stories. Welcome Elena Richardson. While many would argue that she did not know better, she was a flaw character that taught me so many lessons as a turned page by page and chapter by chapter.

Lesson #1: Don’t Judge a Book By it’s Cover.

“Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn’t, you might burn the world to the ground.”

Elena was very by the book and seen as a flawless individual when it came to her and her family. As we learn more about Elena’s life and family, we realize that things are far from perfect. This is why it is important that we never judge a book by its cover. Appearances only show half of the story.

Lesson #2: We need to know when to let go of our children and let them breathe and be their own person.

“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 existed at once.”

Elena has such a difficulty accepting her children for who they really are that they are afraid to confide in her. She does not look at her children as people but as little dolls she can control and mold into who she wants them to be.

Lesson #3: Do not resent others for your own decisions.

“Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less.”

Once Elena felt like she could not longer control Izzy and she could no longer touch her a phase her, she began to deal with the reality of what it meant to be a mom for her. She was regretful of the life she missed out of and that becomes the fuel she ignites every time she interacts with Izzy.

Lesson #4: Everyone has their own unique stories and you should never job others by how they live their life and the decisions they are faced with on a daily basis.

“But the problem with rules, he reflected, was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time there were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure which side of the line you stood on.”

Elena judged Mia from the very first day of meeting her and never gave her an opportunity to show who she truly was. She investigated Mia’s whole life and dug up all her personal problems and past and used it as bullets to throw back at her. There is not a right or wrong way to live your life. Each individual is in charge of their own personal destiny.

Lesson #5: The most important lesson I learned was to watch your words. Words hold so much weight and a lot of the pain felt in this book is due to certain conversations that left people feeling the burn and sting of strong words with heavier backgrounds in meaning.

“his life had been divided into a before and an after, and he would always be comparing the two.”

The “after” is a difficult time for many people. They don’t know how to act during it, they don’t know what to say during it, and even worst sometimes it leaves you stuck in a rut. It is an uncomfortable feeling to know what used to be and how its never going to be like ever again.


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