Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Land of Decoration - Grace McCleen

Summary: 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 scraps—the 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 lives—a strike threatens her father's factory job, and the taunting at school slips into dangerous territory—Judith 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.
Summary and cover image from http://us.macmillan.com/. Book given free for honest review.

My Review: This story is narrated by ten-year-old Judith McPherson. She is a girl of above-average intelligence being raised by her religious, yet remote, father. Judith is trying to find where she belongs in this world. She is being bullied in school and longs to feel her father's love. She finds solace in her room where she creates a world out of bits of nature and trash. This “land of decoration”, as she calls it, seems to have the power to create miracles. Judith soon discovers that having power may not be as desirable as she once thought.

With several biblical references this book may be viewed as a philosophical story on religion. Many of the messages pop from the book with little searching. On the reverse side, the story could also be read as one about a confused little girl digging for enlightenment and purpose.This would be an ideal book club read. It contains a story of father-daughter relationships, mystical powers, religion and social life.

This novel is rich in detail, quickly drawing the reader in. Judith becomes a friend, a character to root for throughout. Twists of evil and destruction infuse with beauty and goodness to provide dimension to the tale. The result is a powerful story that will leave you pondering.

My Rating: 4 stars

To sum it up: A captivating tale of the precarious balancing point between good and evil as a young girl seeks to find her destiny.

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