Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Land of Decoration

I love love love children's books. I love picture books, and a large chunk of my heart went out long ago to young adult fiction. It's a large part of what makes my job so wonderful. But every once in a while, I need to break up the children's books with something "for people my age," (although that sounds pretty silly, since I think I usually learn just as much reading the titles meant for a younger demographic). My most recent pick for adult novel was this lovely book:

Recently, I believe on, I saw a poll wondering how important blurbs were in a person's desire to read a book. I thought a lot about that question, and I suppose I tend to take them to be of about as high importance as the opinions of my peers. That being said, some people's opinions carry more weight than others. The blurb on the front of The Land of Decoration, from Emma Donoghue, carried a lot of weight for me and definitely influenced how quickly the book made it to the top of my to-read list.*

"This extraordinary tale...grabbed me by the throat." --Emma Donoghue, author of Room

I've blogged about my love for Room, which itself was an extraordinary tale, and I believe that post mentioned that I've read some of Emma Donoghue's other writing and also loved it. I hoped The Land of Decoration would be somehow reminiscent of Room, and I got my wish.

I almost always enjoy narratives written from a child's perspective, especially those that are done well. Grace McCleen was very successful in writing this simple, unique story from ten-year-old Judith McPherson's point of view. At times, I felt that perhaps the voice was a little old for a ten-year-old, but Grace always justified the voice and tone by reminding me that Judith was old for year years. As she delved deeper and deeper into Judith's troubles at school and in the community thanks to her strict religious upbringing in preparation for Armageddon, entering Judith's world became simultaneously easier and all the more imperative. The book was an elegantly crafted story of a young girl's innocence and naivety, as well as her relationship with her father, alongside her struggle to understand all that comes along with growing up and finding oneself. It's been a long time since I read something like this, and as soon as I was completely absorbed, I could not put it down.

*The arrangement of my to-read list, in case anyone is curious, can range from very structured to incredibly haphazard. Books often jump ahead of one another with no rhyme or reason, while others finally make it to the top after a long battle and daily reminders of the fact that they're classics and demand to be read.

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