Kevin Wilson's anticipated follow-up to The Family Fang, Perfect Little World is a warm-hearted and emotional story about a young woman charting her own course.
When Isabelle Poole meets Dr. Preston Grind, she's fresh out of high school, pregnant with her art teacher's baby, and totally on her own. Izzy knows she can be a good mother but without any money or relatives to help, she's left searching.
Dr. Grind, an awkwardly charming child psychologist, has spent his life studying family, even after tragedy struck his own. Now, with the help of an eccentric billionaire, he has the chance to create a "perfect little world" - to study what would happen when ten children are raised collectively, without knowing who their biological parents are. He calls it The Infinite Family Project and he wants Izzy and her son to join.
This attempt at a utopian ideal starts off promising, but soon the gentle equilibrium among the families disintegrates: unspoken resentments between the couples begin to fester; the project's funding becomes tenuous; and Izzy's growing feelings for Dr. Grind make her question her participation in this strange experiment in the first place.
Written with the same compassion and charm that won over legions of readers with The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson shows us with grace and humor that the best families are the ones we make for ourselves.
From the prologue of Kevin Wilson's Perfect Little World
Now, sitting in the classroom, all of them uncomfortably positioned on the floor because the chairs were too small for adult bodies, they waited for Dr. Grind to appear. There were nineteen of them, their names and faces so familiar to Izzy that she actually did think of them as her brothers and sisters, or, at the very least, as her extended family. However she defined them, she felt an intimacy with these people that never touched desire, thank god. There were nine couples and then Izzy, who came to the group alone. The others assumed she would meet someone, eventually marry, but Izzy had not considered it. There was something more important at stake, Dr. Grind always reminded them. They had to be fluid and open and no longer dependent on the expectations of their former lives, before they had come together.
In this cheery, brightly colored room, Izzy tried to focus, tried to ignore the creeping feeling that she was not ...
Readers who do not share Kevin Wilson's sunny worldview may find the story's resolution a bit too perfect, but Kevin Wilson's Perfect Little World is an opportunity to consider what "family" means and how just one right person can make up for a world of past pain.
(Reviewed by Lisa Butts).
Full Review (737 words).
In Perfect Little World, Dr. Preston Grind and his team of researchers conduct the "Marshmallow Experiment" on the children living at the Infinite Family Project. A marshmallow is placed before a child and he/she has a choice: eat it right away, or wait fifteen minutes and receive two marshmallows instead of one. The experiment was conceived by scientists at Stanford University, led by psychologist Walter Mischel, and conducted throughout the 1960s and 70s on roughly 650 children. It's known as the marshmallow experiment but that wasn't always the treat, cookies and pretzels were also used depending on what the subject preferred.
In the 1980s, Mischel checked in on his study subjects and made a startling discovery: those who were able to...
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