A few weeks ago, I checked out two new books from my local library– Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

I had been anticipating Alice Walker’s collection of journals for some time, so when I saw it was available on the “New Books” shelf at the library, I had to get it.

And I had already known Little Fires Everywhere was a popular series on Hulu, but once I found out it was based on a novel, I decided to read the book first.

(I should also add it wasn’t intentional that I checked out two books with the word “fire” in the titles. Absolutely coincidental, but I still think it’s pretty cool!)

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker (Edited by Valerie Boyd)

I wanted to read Alice Walker’s collection of journals for two reasons: The Color Purple is one of my favorite books and I’ve been a dedicated journal writer since I was a young girl.

About three years ago, I became interested in reading published journals of famous writers. Just this past winter, I bought a copy of The Diary of Viriginia Woolf, Volume Two at John K. King Books in Detroit.

The collection of journals featured in Gathering Blossoms Under Fire span from 1965 to 2000, but it’s not all of Alice’s personal diaries.

According to Valerie Boyd, Alice gave her other journals and documents from her personal archive to Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library in Atlanta. The items are embargoed until the year 2040!

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire covers personal topics such as Alice’s marriage to Civil Rights lawyer Melvyn “Mel” Leventhal; her work in activism during the Civil Rights Movement and Womens Movement; her feelings on motherhood; personal relationships; discovering her sexual identity; and her journey as a writer.

The book even shares Alice’s journal entries on her feelings about her estrangement from her daughter Rebecca Walker (I read an article that Alice and Rebecca have since reconciled).

I’ll admit, at first it felt a little awkward reading Alice’s private thoughts. I felt like I was invading her privacy in a way. However, her journals are fascinating to read. It really gives you more insight into who she is as a person and a writer.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Friends told me Hulu’s limited series Little Fires Everywhere (starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington) is a must-see, but as a book lover, I wanted to read the novel first. And I’m so glad I am!

This book is a page turner, and just like Alice Walker’s Gathering Blossoms Under Fire, I can’t put this novel down!

Right when you think you’re getting to the part where a mystery is nearly solved, another mystery is revealed. There really are “little fires everywhere” in the storyline!

Little Fires Everywhere is about a white suburban family (The Richardsons) and an Asian American, single mom named Mia. The story takes place during the 90s Clinton Era in a suburb of Clevland, Ohio called Shaker Heights (maybe not-so coincidentally, Celeste Ng also grew up in Shaker Heights, OH).

At first, I thought the novel was going to be solely about the teenagers, but as I continued to read the book, I realized the novel centers around the two mothers: Elena Richardson and Mia Wright.

Mia is an artistic photographer and rents a duplex owned by the Richardsons. Elena Richardson, married mom of four and a local journalist, is the typical “perfect mom.” (However, she seems absolutely clueless on how to connect with her younger daughter Izzy.)

For Elena, everything has to be perfect. The perfect marriage, perfect number of children, perfect suburban city. And rules are always meant to be followed.

Mia’s daughter Pearl ends up becoming friends with the Richardson children and that’s when the little fires start to pop up. Honestly, there are so many juicy secrets (or little fires) revealed in the story that just thinking about it will kind of make your head spin.

But ultimately what ignites this unraveling of secrets, is when Mia tries to help a coworker (a young Chinese American woman) get her baby back from a white couple who recently adopted the baby. It just so happens Elena is best friends with the adopted mother. So, out of spite, Elena decides to find out Mia’s deepest, darkest secret.

I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what will happen once everything is revealed!

What book(s) are you reading right now?


Written by

Jennifer Hamra

Freelance creative Jennifer Hamra created her blog Good Life Detroit in 2015 after relocating from Tennessee to Southeast Michigan.

Inspired by her love for personal blogging and photography, Jennifer likes to share her favorite Detroit things, from cool places to visit (the hidden gems are her favorite!) to the amazing people she has connected with over the years.

When she's not busy juggling family life and her creative projects, you can find her at an art gallery, community event, farmers market, or spending quiet time at home with a good book and cup of tea.

Jennifer lives in the metro Detroit area with her husband Travis and their six children.

Connect with Jennifer on social media @goodlifedetroit on all social media platforms or via email at [email protected].