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The Land of Decoration
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"British musician McCleen's debut explores the complexities of love between a widowed father and his daughter. In her bedroom, 10-year-old Judith McPherson has recreated in miniatures the world she and other believers like her will go to after Armageddon — called the Land of Decoration (named after the biblical Promised Land), there are cookie-carton houses and a sun made of bead-strung wires. Judith is vocal about her beliefs at school; as a result, she incurs the wrath of class bully Neil Lewis. Struggling under the pressures of Neil's cruelties and an increasingly distant father, Judith decides to try her hand at miracles. According to Judith, miracles are 'what you see when you stop thinking, and they happen because someone made them.' Small wonders start to occur — she makes it snow, and she brings a lost cat home, but her newly acquired powers take a toll. Like many child narrators, Judith is precocious, and McCleen prudently avoids cutesiness, choosing instead to concentrate on Judith's creativity. McCleen was raised in a fundamentalist religion, allowing her to write of a potentially sensational subject with nuance and sensitivity. McCleen adroitly combines cinematic momentum with intuitive description in this novel about the consequences of faith and what happens when we believe that we have the power to effectuate change. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Associates." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice
Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize
Judith and her father dont have much—their house is full of dusty relics, reminders of the mother shes never known. But Judith sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith, and where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility. Bullied at school, she finds solace in making a model of the Promised Land—little people made from pipe cleaners, a sliver of moon, luminous stars, and a mirror sea—a world of wonder that Judith calls the Land of Decoration. Perhaps, she thinks, if she makes it snow indoors (using shaving cream and cotton balls and Scotch tape) there will be no school on Monday. Sure enough, when Judith opens her curtains the next day, the world beyond her window has turned white. She has performed her first miracle. And thats when her troubles begin.
With its intensely taut storytelling and gorgeous prose, The Land of Decoration is a breathtaking story of good and evil, belief and doubt. Grace McCleen is a blazing new talent in contemporary literature.
About the Author
Grace McCleen is an author and singer-songwriter who lives in London. This is her debut novel.
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