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The Land of Decoration: A Novel Hardcover – March 27, 2012
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A mesmerizing debut about a young girl whose steadfast belief and imagination bring everything she once held dear into treacherous balance
In Grace McCleen's harrowing, powerful debut, she introduces an unforgettable heroine in ten-year-old Judith McPherson, a young believer who sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith. Persecuted at school for her beliefs and struggling with her distant, devout father at home, young Judith finds solace and connection in a model in miniature of the Promised Land that she has constructed in her room from collected discarded scrapsâthe Land of Decoration. Where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility and divinity in even the strangest traces left behind. As ominous forces disrupt the peace in her and Father's modest livesâa strike threatens her father's factory job, and the taunting at school slips into dangerous territoryâJudith makes a miracle in the Land of Decoration that solidifies her blossoming convictions. She is God's chosen instrument. But the heady consequences of her newfound power are difficult to control and may threaten the very foundations of her world.
With its intensely taut storytelling and crystalline prose, The Land of Decoration is a gripping, psychologically complex story of good and evil, belonging and isolation, which casts new and startling light on how far we'll go to protect the things we love most.
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Grace McCLeen drops the reader into this child's head flawlessly. The young girl's blind acceptance and participation in a father's unusual and isolating religious beliefs. Her withdrawal into the sanctuary of her room, into the miniaturized world of her creation, a place of Biblical references and origins, a place to be safe from incomprehensible ridicule and bullying. The reader understands why the little girl could be regarded as an outcast, but the child comes to slivers of this understanding in heartbreaking half steps. Each one adds a new dusting of disillusion and enlightenment, part of the mixed blessing everyone experiences on the road through life.
McCleen tells the story using language and imagery appropriate for the child, yet each scene and observation builds toward the whole. Others may influence our options and attitudes, but in the end - Armageddon being another of the author's artful symbols - we are each unto ourselves.
McCleen begins the story and executes it quite well with character build and intense imagery, so much so, that my dissatisfaction didn't appear till the very end. It's as if, she suddenly became tired with the story and wanted a simple exit. Throughout the book, the story continuously builds upon itself and then abruptly takes a wrong turn and ends. Whereas I enjoyed 3/4s of the book, McCleen's choice of how to end was so weak and undeserving, that it cast a dark shadow over the entire novel.
It seems the author would have done well to pull us, and the child out of the miry clay a bit sooner in the story, rather than drag us to the threshold of Armageddon.
Most recent customer reviews
Judith lives with her father. It is telling that she only ever calls him father.Read more