How does Little Fires Everywhere end? Here's what happens in the book

18 March 2020, 17:08

By Sam Prance

A detailed summary of the ending of the Little Fires Everywhere book, which the Hulu series is based on, explained.

The first three episodes of Little Fires Everywhere have arrived but how does the book that the Hulu series is based on end?

Yesterday (Mar 17), Little Fires Everywhere premiered on Hulu. The new American drama stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington and it's based on Celeste Ng's best-selling novel of the same name. It follows Elena Richardson (Reese), a rich, local journalist with a picture-perfect family, and Mia Warren (Kerry), a working-class artist with a bright, teenage daughter, whose lives become intertwined in a dramatic story about identity, race, social-status, motherhood and so much more.

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The series opens, just like the book, with the Richardsons' house being set on fire by a mystery arsonist. However, you don't find out who lit the fire and why they did it, until the end of the novel. We imagine that the series won't let on who did it until the finale (April 15). With that in mind, here's a summary of the book and its ending, if you can't wait any longer.


Little Fires Everywhere book summary: The ending explained
Little Fires Everywhere book summary: The ending explained. Picture: Hulu

One year before the Richardson's house is set on fire in 1998, Elena Richardson lets out her spare duplex to Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. Pearl quickly becomes friends with Elena's son Moody, who fancies her, and his siblings Lexie, Trip and Izzy. She goes to the Richardsons daily and starts to idolise Lexie and fall for Trip romantically, unbeknownst to Moody.

Meanwhile, Mia starts working part-time at a local Chinese restaurant to fund her art. Noticing that Mia struggles for money, Elena patronisingly asks her to be her housekeeper and Mia begrudgingly accepts. Here Mia meets Izzy, Elena's youngest daughter who she has a strained relationship with. Mia becomes close to Izzy and invites her to be her art assistant.

At the Richardson's house, Mia hears from Lexie that Elena's friend, Linda McCullough has adopted a young baby girl who was abandoned. Mia realises that it is May Ling Chow, the daughter of her colleague at the restaurant, Bebe Chow. Bebe left her daughter at a fire station when she was too poor to care for her but had been looking for her ever since.

Mia tells Bebe and, when the McCulloughs ignore Bebe, she advises her to tell the local news. Bebe then gets a pro-bono lawyer. Finding out what Mia did, Elena looks into her history. She finds her parents and learns that a man with an infertile wife paid Mia to have Pearl for them but Mia told them she miscarried and ran away with Pearl.


Elsewhere, Lexie accidentally gets pregnant and gets an abortion under Pearl's name. Pearl begins having sex with Trip and, when Moody finds out, he stops talking to her. Elena then finds out through a friend at the abortion clinic that "Pearl" had an abortion and assumes that she was having unprotected sex with Moody, but he tells her it was Trip and Izzy overhears.

As for Bebe, she loses her case against the McCulloughs to parent May Ling but she later kidnaps her and flies to Canton in China with May Ling in secret. Unable to track May Ling, who they renamed Mirabelle, down at all, the McCulloughs go on to adopt a baby from China.

Upset over what she thinks was Pearl's abortion, Elena confronts Mia, revealing she knows about Pearl's father and asks her to move out. Mia goes to pick up Pearl from school and tells her they have to leave. Not understanding why, Mia tells Pearl about her father.

Realising what has happened and how her family have ruined Mia and Pearl's lives, Izzy sets her house on fire. She then runs away and attempts to look for Mia. The book ends with Elena vowing to do everything she can to find Izzy.

What do you think of the ending?