Saturday, March 10, 2012

Charlene Reviews: The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen

ISBN #: 978-0805094947
Page Count: 320
Copyright: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

(Taken from Amazon)

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.

Charlene's Review:

Our central character, Judith, is a lonely girl living with her widowed father, and raised in his very strict religious faith. In school, she struggles to fit in, and becomes the target of a bully. To help cope, Judith makes a world from found objects that she calls the Land of Decoration, the place her father's religion says they will reside after Armageddon. In this world, she lives out the life she would like to have. After praying for a miracle, Judith appears to make one happen, just by rearranging this make-believe world. Then, following the voice of God, Judith starts to manipulate the world around her.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. It is a bit slow in places, and relies heavily on the religious theme, which is, on occasion, exhaustingly verbose. On the other hand, the relationship between Judith and her father was engrossing, as they struggle to cope together and, eventually, bridge the gap. The whole premise of this book was interesting and the details of Judith's personal world, gripping. In the end, though, I was left with more questions than a feeling of finality.

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