In Little Fires Everywhere By Celeste Ng, a woman named Bebe Chow gives her child away fearing she cannot afford to care for it. Shortly after, she gets a job and is financially and emotionally stable. She comes back for her baby only to find out the baby girl is being adopted by another, ‘more capable’ family composed of a husband and wife, the McColloughs. Bebe is relentless to get her child back. She gets a lawyer and makes the decision to sue the state. All of the attention is now focused on them and whether the name of the baby is May Ling Chow or Mirabelle McCullough. There is a divide between the entire town and it brings forth the question, as a reader, to decide which side you are on personally: What is family?

Family is a word with many definitions. One may see a close friend as family and another will see family as a person that shares the same mother and father with them, and added members through marriage. According to, a family is a group of people that share a genetic bond and that even having a genetic bond brings a deeper meaning. There are two different types of bonds. There are legal bonds like adoption, marriage, legal contracts, etc. And there are Blood Bonds like common ancestors, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. This source also says that there are nine different types of families. There is the extended, nuclear, complex, single parent, step, traditional,  adopted, foster, and childless family. Referring to, family is a word you call those that surround you with care, concern, and love. It also states that some people feel like their closest friends feel more like family than their biological family, so the true meaning of family doesn’t always associate with who you share your blood with.

According to, a family is a socially recognized group and an economic unit of society that also forms an emotional connection. To conclude the meaning of what a family is, a family is anyone you care so greatly about in your life and is also someone you would surround yourself and your own children with everyday. You have an emotional connection with this person and you love this person. When the baby from Little Fires Everywhere grows up, she should be able to decide who her family is but should also be aware that her biological mother did not permanently abandon her and still loves her. In the meantime, her family should be anyone who has the best and purest interest in her and her future. 

Works Cited

Featured Image. Accessed November 15, 2019.

Lumen, Defining Family. Accessed November 13, 2019. 

Mayntz, Melissa. Definitions of Family. Accessed November 13, 2019.  

Nason, Michelle. How Do You Define Family? Charis Counseling Center. Published May 12, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2019.

Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere. Published in New York. Published by The Penguin Press. Published in 2017. Accessed November 13, 2019. 

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January 30, 2020 1:05 pm

You made me want to read this book! You’re discussing a topic that I think we often take for granted. We don’t talk about the complications of family enough. Especially when it comes to ideas like biological vs. adoptive family. I like how you’re thinking about these ideas in connection to your book. Good job!

December 16, 2019 1:44 am

Hi Rachel,
I loved the fact that you looked at the word family from different viewpoints. Family for me is a group of people I can be myself around. My family makes me feel comfortable. Would you recommend another book that is centered around the meaning of family? Here is a link to another article about the meaning of family, which I hope you will enjoy reading.

December 10, 2019 6:52 am

Hi Rachel,
I liked your article and how you approach to “family” from different ways and different meanings. I also agree that definition for “family” can change from person to person. You can also check this website:

December 6, 2019 1:12 pm

Hey Rachel! I love your Article! I believe family is very important and that it should be put before anything else. I think it doesn’t matter if it is a parent, cousin, sibling or friend that you are closest to, but you should surround yourself and be yourself around the people you are closest to. I believe you should be grateful that you have a family or someone that cares for you and watches out for you because some people don’t have that. I think your family shapes who you are so having good relationships with them and being able to talk to them about anything is a really awesome thing. I feel like for your book the biological mom went from not being able to support and then all of a sudden thinking shes ready to take care of her and I think that is only half fair to the child. There is a family that will love and care for the child and give them a good life and it seems a little selfish to want the child back. I understand if you can’t support but it is a huge decision to put them up for adoption. I think the child should have a right to know who mom is and maybe at that point decide to go back but I feel like the mother isn’t ready yet. It happened too fast to believe it.

November 15, 2019 3:43 pm

hello Rachel
This is a great story on how import family can be for us and that it’s hard to make the right choices when it means loosing someone for that.

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