The Truth About the Fire in Little Fires Everywhere — Straight From the Book

Hulu's limited series Little Fires Everywhere begins where Celeste Ng's novel starts and ends: the Richardson house getting burnt to a crisp. Elena Richardson, played by Reese Witherspoon, looks at her home in disbelief. Her youngest daughter, Izzy (Megan Stott), has disappeared without a trace, and everyone is convinced she's the arsonist. After the first three episodes, there's a question that lingers: why did Izzy set fire to the home? The series hasn't given us a clear motive, but you'll find answers in the book.

So far, what we know in the Hulu adaptation is that tensions are at an all-time high between Elena and Izzy. Izzy chafes at her mother's straight-laced ways. Bullied by the girls at school, she burns her hair off, refuses to wear Elena's hand-selected clothes, and bursts out in class. Of everyone in Shaker Heights, Mia (Kerry Washington) understands Izzy for who she is: an artist.

We've yet to see if the remaining five episodes will faithfully adhere to Ng's novel, but it would make sense that it all plays out to the same conclusion. In the book, Elena continues snooping into Mia's background, and, by the end, confronts her about her surrogacy and Pearl's father. Hearing this, Mia pulls Pearl out of school, announcing that they have to move from Shaker Heights ASAP. Before this all goes down, Mia leaves Izzy with words about how people are like a prairie fire — that after the burning, the soil becomes richer and new things can grow.

Izzy soon learns that Mia has left permanently and is angry at how terrible her family was to the Warrens. Incensed and inspired by Mia's last words, she sets fires on her family's beds, unaware that her mother is still inside the house. Afterward, she heads to Pittsburgh in hopes of finding the Warrens, vowing to leave home again if caught. Elena, on the other hand, swears to keep looking for her daughter. In the weeks to come, we'll learn if this is indeed the fiery end to the series.