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Cynthia C. (Peekskill, NY)
Good book club suggestion
I thought this was an interesting and well-written book. A good choice for book clubs, with many things to discuss: Religion & faith, love & hate, tolerance and intolerance.
Elizabeth L. (Salem, Oregon)
Beautiful and Strange
The book is well paced and well-written, full of lovely imagery and clever wording without being pretentious. But the subject matter is hard - poverty, bullying, mental illness. Still I would recommend it.
Linda D. (Indianapoils, IN)
Because of the precocious yet naive main character, ten year old Judith, I wanted to love this book. Judith's voice tells the story of what it is like to never fit in, to be bullied both verbally and physically, and to not feel love and protection from the adults who have been entrusted with her care. She copes with the abuse from her school mates, isolation from the rest of the community, and lack of warmth from her father by believing she can talk to God and create miracles. Because McCleen's Judith is so young, and also amazingly articulate, the book is eery:is this madness, magic, or faith? Or just the most fulfilling and imaginative way to cope with a barren, sad existence?
Carolyn F. (San Carlos, CA)
I really wanted to like this book
Unfortunately, the other characters, with the exception of Neil, the bully, do not seem as well imagined or developed. Judith's father felt particularly one dimensional and the one adult, the teacher who rightfully worries that Judith is hearing voices stops short of doing anything for no reason.
I really liked this book, but I loved Judith. Every time I picked it up to read, I felt a little disappointed. I wanted every character to be as deep and painstakingly rendered as Judith.
I wanted to like it because of the blurb and I really loved ROOM but I had to slog my way through this one. I could not develop any empathy for the characters because I did not believe them. I honestly would not recommend this book.
Kathy K. (Lakeland, Florida)
The Land of Decoration
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen would appeal to readers who like young female main characters. Judith is a third grade student who is neglected by a single father, bullied by classmates and has no strong female role model until a substitute teacher takes over her class. She relies on her faith (an extreme fundamental one) to help her overcome her problems, namely the classroom bully.
Susan B. (Rutledge, MO)
not what I expected
The author, McCleen, uses a rather run-on style of writing in places which will cause some readers to slow down and reread the sentences a number of times. The character Judith is well developed but that is not the case for the father. He is much more elusive and hard to understand. Perhaps that is what McCleen wanted.
I didn’t like this as much as I’d hoped I would, but it’s entirely my own fault. For some reason I thought this was going to be a post-apocalyptic tale, which is one of my favorite kinds of stories. But (by my lights at least) living in a grey, downtrodden factory town in England and looking forward to the Biblical Apocalypse doesn’t count as being in that genre. So I kept waiting for the world to end, but spoiler alert! it didn’t.
Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)
Finally child I can care about
Once I realized the book wasn’t what I’d thought it would be, I noted that the writing and characterization were very good, I just didn’t find myself very interested in the character’s dilemmas. If you go in expecting a heartrending portrayal of a young girl from an extreme religious background experiencing loss and trauma, you’ll be fine. If you go in expecting a dystopic slightly-future tale, you might be disappointed.
just a small rant about the run of hyperintellegent children/teens who populate current fiction. Sorry, but they annoy me. (Won't name names.) This is not one of them! Judith is a likeable thoughtful child who constructs an alternate world and falls into a moral quandary when her emerging ego confronts a situation her strictly religious upbringing has not prepared her for. The outcome is always in doubt and the reader's attachment to Judith makes it hard to stop reading.
Aprile G. (Florence, MA)
I really wanted to like The Land of Decoration, but in the end, I felt that it really required too much faith on the part of the reader for the story to hold together.