Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Land of Decoration

by Grace McCleen

I want to discuss the cover before talking about the book.  The first image is of the US cover.  It's okay, and if I hadn't seen the Canadian/English version, I wouldn't have given it a second thought.  As I just now searched for an image for this post I saw the Canadian/English version and thought how cute and appropriate to the story it was.  Why do they (whoever THEY is) have to make a different, and only so-so cover for the US?    The cute cover has a picture of the main character, 10-yr old Judith, siting in her home and yet too big for her home.  Quite Alice-in-Wonderlandish.  The homemade clouds, planet and sun hang from strings as they do in Judith's room.  And all the snow falling represent a major pivot point in Judith's young, lonely life.

Am I wrong?  Which cover do you like best?

I wanted to like this book because I watched the video sent along with the invitation to receive an ARC of this book.  I've included the video at the end of this post.  It's mesmerizing and created a desire to learn more about Judith and the little world she had created in her bedroom.

Judith's father is a radical evangelical.  Actually, he's lost and lonely after the loss of his wife and he tries to fill that with an unwholesome religious fervor that he questions and struggles with in his alone time.

Ten-year-old, bullied, friendless Judith is also trying to deal with the loss of her mother.  She follows her father, much like a bewildered puppy, to and from meetings, visiting homes, handing out flyers, and teaching religion from the street corners.  She spends too many hours alone, thinking, creating her private landscape and integrating her father's religious views to solve her own personal problems.  She becomes an innocent victim of the narrow range of her life.

This is a powerful, well-written book but it was not a pleasant experience for me to read it.  I found my anger near boiling at the stupidity of the radical, non-rational thinking of the father and his small group of devout evangelicals and the effects of "religion" on young Judith.  It wasn't a stretch to think about all the people who hold radical beliefs of any kind and the effects that has on their children - religious, political, educational, health-related, etc.  In my neck of the world, there isn't a healthy regard for education so I hear a lot of ignorant comments about non-Caucasian races, Democrats, women, the wealthy and so on and so forth.  My little valley is a field ripe with potential when it comes to propaganda.  

The message is powerful and hits you right in the gut.  The ending will leave you reeling.  When I started writing my review I planned on saying that I did not like this book, but after writing my thoughts I realize the book did what it set out to do.  It warns of the danger of radical thinking.  It creates strong feelings of anger and disgust in it's readers while watching the effects of radicalism on the fertile soil of a young child's mind.

** I received a free copy of The Land of Decoration in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.


Zibilee said...

I will be reading this one soon, so I was glad to read your thoughts on it and get your perspective. I also like the alternate cover. It sounds like it's going to be a tough read, but one that will make me think. Thanks for the excellent review on this one today!

Kailana said...

I don't really get the cover changes, either. Some are just terrible when they are great in a different country...

jenclair said...

I agree about the covers. I started the book and put it aside; now I may go back and try again. Not right away, though.