Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Land of Decoration; Grace McCleen

Author:  Grace McCleen
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt
Edition: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: 5/2012
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: 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.



  1. This sounds fantastic! I find short chapters very appealing to for some reason.

  2. Sure looks like a fantastic read, and its subject matter, good discussion topic. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I always sit up and take notice when a book gets a 5/5 from a reviewer. Will keep my eye out for this one Diane!

  4. I was considering this book, but was unsure. Now I really want to read it. :)

  5. For some reason I've been hesitating about this one … but no more!

  6. I have this in my review stack. Looking forward to it!! I love short chapters!!

  7. This is a book that I have been anxious to get to ever since it arrived on my doorstep. I need to make time to read it because the premise intrigues the heck out of me!

  8. Read and liked this one too..I must write my review...

  9. I thought the synopsis sounded really interesting and I almost accepted an ARC of this one. Looks like I should have!! Excellent review and this one is going on my list of must reads for sure!

  10. This one was a Chatelaine Book Club pick and I was tempted to pick it up but didn't. I'm glad to have read your review- perhaps I will read it over the summer!!

  11. I’m so glad you liked this, Diane. I did too, but realize that it can generate a TON of discussion and dissent.

  12. I just read another really positive review of this one. Sounds like I need to add it to my list!


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