Title: The Land of Decoration
Author: Grace McCleen
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt
Edition: ARCSource: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 5/2012
Rating: 5/5Recommend: yes
The Land of Decoration, from the Book of Ezekiel, is a better world, the "promised land", the way 10-year old Judith McPherson wishes the world to be. It's a world Judith has created from the junk she finds, and the reader can see her creation, beginning with the opening paragraphs of this debut novel------
"IN THE BEGINNING there was an empty room, a little bit of space, a little bit of light, a little bit of time.
I said, I'm going to make fields, and I made them from place mats, carpet, brown corduroy, and felt. Then I made rivers from crepe paper, plastic wrap and shiny tinfoil, and mountains from papier mache and bark. And I looked at the fields and I looked at the rivers and I looked at the mountains and I saw that they were good."
Judith's real world is not a happy place. Her mom has died, her father John, is a strict, cold man who works at the steel mill which is troubled by union labor issues. A Christian fundamentalist, the one thing her father insists on is that Judith study the bible daily. He makes sure that she understands how important discipline and righteousness are. At 10, she understands all about Judgment Day, and even though she's still a child, she looks forward to it. She'll be with her mother again, she won't have to worry about school bullies ever again. One day when a classmate promises to embarrass her in school the following Monday, something good happens. Judith believes, "the Land of Decoration" she has created makes miracles possible, making her believe she may be God's "chosen one".
Without telling too much of the story, this debut novel was a hit with me. The chapters are short -- just several pages each, which makes every word, every thought seem perfect considering the narrator is a 10-year old girl. She's very smart, sympathetic and looking to find her place within this crazy world. I found myself rooting for her all the way, but I would find it hard to classify this story -- psychological, coming of age, suspense, faith -- it seems to have most areas covered -- What a terrific book for reading groups; there is plenty to talk about.