The Land Of Decoration: The A Novel by Grace MccleenThe Land Of Decoration: The A Novel by Grace Mccleen

The Land Of Decoration: The A Novel

byGrace Mccleen

Hardcover | March 27, 2012

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Ten-year-old Judith McPherson is a believer. Her world is carefully constructed around her faith: nightly scripture reading with her father, weekly gatherings at the Meeting Hall and daily proselytizing to the lost. With no TV and no books “of the world” to entertain her, she passes time by creating The Land of Decoration, a model in miniature of The Promised Land which she has made of collected discarded scraps—divine treasures that she squirrels away.

But Judith’s troubles are mounting. At school, Neil Lewis’s relentless terrorizing has reached a feverish, dangerous pitch and, in town, a strike threatens the factory where her father works. One Sunday night, terrified of the violence that awaits her in the halls on Monday, Judith conjures a snowstorm in The Land of Decoration made of shaving cream, cotton and cellophane. The next morning the ground outside her window is a crisp, dazzling white. Judith can perform miracles. In fact, she might just be God’s chosen instrument. But with power comes weighty consequences, and Judith must face them head on to keep her faith—and her family—alive.

With its intensely taut storytelling and gorgeous prose, The Land of Decoration is a harrowing story of good and evil, belonging and isolation, faith and doubt, and it introduces us to a classic new heroine. It’s a novel that gives us many incredible gifts, but its most exciting is the gift of Grace McCleen, a brilliant, heartbreaking new voice in fiction.

GRACE MCCLEEN studied English Literature at Oxford University and The University of York before becoming a full-time writer and musician. She lives in London.The Land of Decorationis her first novel.
Title:The Land Of Decoration: The A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.41 × 7.24 × 1 inPublished:March 27, 2012Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1443408484

ISBN - 13:9781443408486

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from I just didn't get it... If I had to describe this book in one word, I would use: Weird. This book was so weird, guys. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t absolutely hate it either. I just didn’t get it. Ten-year old Judith lives with only her father, as her mother passed away shortly after giving birth to Judith. It’s clear from the beginning that Judith and her father are very religious, and although the author never tells you which religion exactly, my detective skills tell me they were Jehovah’s Witness. Judith spends her days at school where she is horribly bullied by this awful, awful boy named Neil Lewis (gawd I hated him!), and she spends her evenings at home with her father, reading from the bible. When they aren’t eating dinner or praying or reading, Judith spends her time in her bedroom, where she has created a large diorama, “the land of decoration”, named after the Promised Land in the Bible. She adds to The Land of Decoration with whatever she can get her little hands on – scraps of material, lollipop wrappers, cotton balls, yarn, pipe cleaners, garbage on the sidewalk, literally anything that Judith stumbles upon. At first I was like, “this is amazing – I LOVE dioramas!” Then things just started to get weird. One day, Judith makes something happen in The Land of Decoration that is then replicated in the real world. She’s convinced it is not a coincidence, and around this same time she starts having actual conversations with God. This is where I got confused. I wasn’t sure if Judith could actually talk to God, or if she just thought she could talk to God, or if she had the beginnings of a mental illness. I tried not to over think it and just go with it. At first, things start to look up for poor Judith and then I thought “ok, it doesn’t really matter if she can talk to God or not – if she believes and it helps her confront the school bullies and be a stronger Judith, then that’s the whole point”. But then, this God guy starts to get kind of mean and bully-ish himself. I mean, I’ve never talked to God, but I imagine if I could/did, he’d be a lot more supportive than Judith’s God. Judith’s God reminded more of what the devil would sound like. Judith’s God would present Judith with two choices and obviously, depending on which she chose, there would be consequences to follow. Judith would seek out God for advice/guidance and God would be all like “An eye for an eye” or, “I told you so”. Not cool God, not cool. I really liked Judith though. She was so innocent and naive that you couldn’t help but feel for her. The pain she felt from the constant teasing and bullying she endured every day at school was palpable. I wanted to reach through the pages and pound Neil Lewis in the face. I don’t think I’ve ever despised a young boy as much as I did Neil. The bullying that went on in this book, both to Judith and even towards her father, made my blood boil and even brought me close to tears at times. You can read the rest of my review here:
Date published: 2012-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking Reason for Reading: Very intriguing plot captured my interest. This is a tough book to review. I loved parts of it and disliked other parts of it. Mainly, I adored the main character, 10yo Judith, in whose voice the narrative is written. She is naive and not always a reliable narrator but we are given events from her point of view as she sees them happen. I read the book very quickly over two days and had a hard time putting the book down. Parts of it were just lovely, other parts I heartily disagreed with. As a Christian, I don't feel the author is making a grand statement one way or the other about Christianity as a whole. I do think she is using this powerful message of father/daughter relationship, a mother's death, a girl's bullying because of her religion to show that bad things happen, even when we have the best intentions. That fanaticism of anything is never good. That God does not "let" bad things happen, we make our own choices and suffer the consequences of them, as rightly we should. Judith carries this book. She and her father belong to this unnamed religious fringe group (never named, but disclaimed to be Mormons) which is obsessed with the End Times. Otherwise they seem harmless enough, much of their Christian doctrine can be found in true Christian denominations but then it has been twisted in a way to make it what it is in this book. This may offend some Christian readers, but I take it that it is fiction and that these kind of kooky Christian sects do does exist though they are not the norm. This group for the most part follows Christ; it is its obsession with Armageddon which removes it from the focus of Christ. Non-Christians may find the book too full of Christian references, Bible quotations and simple plain Christian living; this may annoy them or unfortunately make them think this fringe group is somehow representative of "normal" Christianity. These are the things I didn't like about the book; the constant fighting in my head with the representation of these "Christians". Something profound would be said and then something equally laughable would be said. As to the story otherwise, it was very good. Judith is a naive girl who asks big questions of her father, the grown-ups at church, about religion and life. She is always asking "why?" and she is respected for her clever questions. At school it is the same, except with the other children, and one boy in particular, who bullies and teases her relentlessly because she is an outcast from them. Not allowed to attend morning assembly, wearing plain clothes, and talking easily about God, Armageddon and the Den of Iniquity of the modern world. No matter what is happening in this world around her; her being bullied, her dad being a scab, boy's taunting their house in the evening's Judith does believe in God and talks to him. He has started to answer her back and miracles have started to happen. Perhaps this is all in the confused girl's head or perhaps she is a real mystic. But you will fall in love with Judith and root for her as she tries to cope with a sad life that left her motherless and alone with a father who does everything he can for her but does not know how to show love and affection. This book is going to take some time for me to ruminate on before I really decide whether I think it was just OK or Good. I did like it; I'm just not sure how much. The ending was underwhelming and with all the religion/God emphasis throughout I expected something more uplifting than what we were given. The book did have some moments of sage wisdom and at other times I was left shaking me head. The instructions for making a hot air balloon, I do understand their significance but as an ending it leaves one dumbstruck. If you love stories about people pondering the purposes of God in their lives this will be the book for you.
Date published: 2012-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One I'll be recommending! Every year there seems to be a book that stays with me long after I've turned the last page. And when someone asks me for a good book recommendation, it's the first one that comes to mind. The Land of Decoration - a debut novel by Grace McCleen is one of those books. Ten year old Judith McPherson lives in England with her father, her mother having passed away. She attends school, but is bullied and isolated, primarily because of the religious beliefs that she and her father follow. And sometimes Judith escapes into her own little world - one she has created in her room from rubbish. "There is a world in my room. It is made from things no one else wanted and it is made with things that were my mother's, that she left to me, and it has taken most of my life to make." She calls this world The Land of Decoration. She has taken this name from the book of Ezekiel - the land of milk and honey, a paradise for the faithful in the afterlife - The Promised Land. For Judith, it is where she will see her mother again. When Judith transforms her Land of Decoration into a snow covered blizzard and it happens in reality, she believes she is responsible. " Miracles happen because someone made them and because someone, somewhere, had faith." And she's doubly sure she's responsible as God told her she was. The bullying amplifies, as does the unrest at the factory Judith's father works at. And so does Judith's belief that she has the power to create miracles and change things. And God's voice is getting louder. I was so mesmerized by this book. I couldn't read it straight through, but had to put it down and come back later as my emotions were in a turmoil. Judith's voice was heartbreaking in so many ways. McCleen has created a character in Judith that just grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I found myself stopping to ponder many of her views. I wanted so badly to help her as she faced so much more than a ten year old should. McCleen's depictions of the other main players are just as well done. Judith's father is another poignant portrayal that was difficult to accept and read at times. McCleen's books explores so many themes - love, hate, tolerance, persecution, belief, faith and more, but ultimately is about the love between a parent and child. I wonder how much of Judith's story is Grace's story. She was raised in a fundamentalist religious environment and has a strong interest in miniatures as well. I think readers are either going to love or hate McCleen's book, much like Emma Donoghue's Room. This reader loved it. (so did Emma Donoghue)
Date published: 2012-04-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If You LOVED ROOM, Read This Book! This book is perfect for anyone who loved ROOM by Emma Donoghue. I really liked it. Ten-year-old Judith McPherson's world revolves around her fundamentalist religious faith: reading the Bible with her father every night, going to church "meetings" and preaching "the word" to the community. She has no television or books to entertain her, so she creates a miniature world she calls The Land of Decoration out of discarded scraps she finds and writes in her journal which she hides under a board in the floor of her bedroom. Judith and her father are members of a small religious sect whose objective is to save people's souls and to wait for the end of the world. This makes Judith a prime target for school bullies, one in particular, Neil Lewis, who is bound and determined to make Judith's life very difficult in and out of school. She is also affected by her father's decision to cross the picket line during a strike at the factory where he works and the dangerous results that come from that decision. To cope with this constant bullying, Judith turns to her beloved Land of Decoration and creates scenarios to help her deal with it. However, events take place that make her believe that she has been "chosen" as God's instrument and has been given special powers. This book is extremely well written. It's difficult to believe that this is a debut novel. Grace McLeen has written a very emotionally powerful novel that touches on a number of sensitive issues. The ending particularly grabbed me, but I won't give it away. Give this book a try. Perfect for book clubs. You won't be disappointed. Judith is a character you won't soon forget.
Date published: 2012-03-26

Editorial Reviews

"This extraordinary tale of one little girl's End Times grabbed me by the throat.The Land of Decoration is part social observation and part crazy mysticism, held together by a brutally real story of parent-child love." —Emma Donoghue, author of Room?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.? ? Publishers Weekly (starred review)"While end-of-time stories are faddish, UK writer Grace McCleen?s novel, The Land of Decoration (Henry Holt), is one to heed. The first sentence sets the tone for this rapturous, daringly imaginative tale of love, loss, and salvation." - From ELLE's April Issue ()