Lisa B. (Denton, TX)
Creating your own World
I had a hard time reading this book at first because, as a ten year old, I was bullied like Judith McPherson in the Land of Decoration (but in a much less severe way, thank goodness). I was also exposed to some frightening stories about the book of Revelations and the end times that gave me horrible nightmares. Once I got past that I thought the writing and story were wonderful and perfectly captured the life of a lonely 10 year old girl. I also could have imagined when I was ten building my own world out of junk in my bedroom, just like she did. I am not sure the ending was totally believable, but I liked the rest so much that I am willing to overlook that.
Dorothy S. (Hendersonville, NC)
The Land of Decoration
Wow! I'm nearly speechless. I found this book to be extremely compelling and well written. The fact that the entire narrative is told in the voice of a child, a very gifted and sensitive one at that, is one of the book's most unique features.
It is interesting that in order to understand Judith one must try to understand how others respond to her. Her classmates see her as odd at the very best, a freak at worst. Her father, though reticent to show the affection she deeply craves, loves her deeply, but also fears for her and is most anxious to protect. From what? obviously from the cruel torments of her classmates, from the world, from himself? The dour, fundamentalist religious milieu he has created becomes more real for Judith than the life around her, from which she wishes to escape to the land of decoration, where she will be reunited with her mother, and her father will be happy again.
Most telling is the reaction of her teacher who sees Judith for the troubled child she is. Indeed, it seems that at least one point in her development Judith suffered from a form of autism, which would explain her fascination with her imaginary world.
Yet, the most captivating of all, are the conversations between Judith and the god she has created. He is petulant, dogmatic, father-like? and so much more than could possibly be conceived in the mind of a child.
Do I believe in miracles? Let's just say that after reading McClean's brilliant novel, I have an open mind. More importantly, I am convinced of the inherent danger of a rigid, extremely fundamentalist religion that can cripple a child's happy existence in the real world and her relationships with others.
Gail G. (Northbrook, Illinois)
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen
The novel is about a 10-yer old girl named Judith McPherson. She is exceptionally faithful in her religious belief. Her two primary relationships are with God and her father. But this exceptional faith isolates her from the majority of kids her age and adults who are not believers. She builds The Land of Decoration her bedroom out of discarded materials. She often imagines herself in the made-up town.
It is easy to forget how scary and sad life can be for a 10-year old, after you become an adult. The meaning of a life experience is not the same for both a 10-year old and an adult. My heart went out to this delusional girl who exhibited utter confusion in her understanding of reality and in her interactions with people
I tried to read the book twice. The first time I found no endearing qualities to continue further on into the story but then Judith got to me and I started back at the beginning so as not to miss anything. That little person really hooked me in.
Alexandra S. (Chicago, IL)
What Happens When the End Really is Near
A beautiful story of imagination, faith and the end of times. Judith has grown up in a world of unwavering faith, and the belief that the end is near. While other children play, Judith, her father and their small church, roam the streets of their town knocking on doors to proselytize their neighbors. Rather than play with friends, she creates a model of The Promise Land in her room made from garbage she finds. And one day, her unwavering faith pays off, and Judith becomes the Hand of God. But as we have always learned, be careful what you wish for, it just might come true. This is a story about loss, love, faith and family. The Land of Decoration is a beautifully moving story that you won’t be able to put down.
Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)
faith and family
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A story of unwavering faith and a protective imagination that threatens to upend a father- daughter relationship,McCleen is able, through her crisp writing to let us see how a 10 yr. old understands the world. Judith is a completely believable character, as is her father. The bullying aspects of the story seem all too real as well. I would recommend this book to advanced juvenile, young adult and adult readers and would suggest it as a good title for book clubs.
Rita Q. (Pittsfield, MA)
The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen
A very compelling story of a young girl and her tenacity to keep her faith while hanging on to love...especially for her father. She has a difficult life and her faith is constantly put to the test. It grabbed me very early on and I very much liked the short chapters. I don't consider myself a fast reader but finished this in a weekend. I would highly recommend this for anyone but in particular middle school teachers due to the reference of bullying and how it was handled here. Great debut novel....I shall look forward to the next one.
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.