Monday, May 7, 2012

The Land of Decoration

Grace McCleen
The Land of Decoration

Chatto & Windus, 2012

Imagine a book written from the point of view of a girl, whose mother died in childbirth and whose father a member of Jehovah's Witnesses. This will be this novel by Grace McClean.

Ten-year old Judith Maclean creates in a room in the house where she lives with her father John, The Land of Decoration. The girl builds in the room improvised miniature city in the image and likeness of one, which she lives in. Judith is building houses, roads, animals and people. It is the end of the summer, and the girl has to go back to school and she does not want that. She imagines there will be heavy snow, and throws a toy snow to the Land of Decoration. In a day really heavy snowfall begins in the city.

Father of Judith is a sectarian. He and his daughter regularly go to meetings, read and discuss the Bible, make all the instructions, give up all life pleasures, and often go from house to house, handing out leaflets and urging people to change cheir minds until the end of the world begins. Judith, too, believes in God, but because she is still a child, she does not understand many things and asks many questions. When the same way snow fall again with her desire, Judith begins to think that she has a gift and God uses her to perform miracles. When a girl tells her father about it, the father is angry and tells her she to not invent incredible things. A few days later, the girl for the second time causes the snow. She truly believes that she has made a miracle, but the father does not want to hear about it. Judith seems that her father does not love her. He really does not hug his daughter, does not walk with her, holding hands, does not to say that he loves her. John is still traumatised by the death of his wife, who agreed to give birth and save a child and give up on her own life.

Judith soon begins to hear a voice in her head. That voice is none other than God. God asks her to help him to become his instrument on Earth, and Judith, of course, agrees.

The choice of the protagonist in the role of a ten years old girl has allowed the author to kill two birds with one stone. Actually, this choice and keeps the whole novel. It is extremely entertaining to get inside the family of sectarians. The naive child, while blindly believing in God and at the same time calling into question many of the seemingly obvious to all adult things related to religion, lives with her father, whose way in religion is similar to the way of her daughter, at the end of the novel casting a voice of God out of her head. They both eventually realize that religion entangles the human mind and requires a person to adapt to the faith, and behave not as a life situation demands, and both of them refuse to religion. To behave with dignity is possible without religion.

We see how the girl thinks that she creates miracles, and this creates additional suspense: the reader almost til the end can only guess whether this is her gift or just a series of coincidences. Cut off from the outside world in large part because of religion, Judith replaces the real world so that she created her own. Judith, in essence, is a god herself - the god of the toy city, as to confirm that later in the book, she begins to hear God's voice in her head.

In «The Land of Decoration» by the end takes place the transformation of the two main characters. It's real people, not pale shadows of people. The girl’s father, John, repents, that all this time he has been trying to bury his grief after the death of his wife in God, not paying enough attention to his daughter. Judith in a little time in her life has become aware of many adult things including her father’s life: she’s thought that he did not love her, but his life was just so damn hard to him.

The novel is written not without humor. The author makes the reader smile in those cases when little Judith faces the world of adults and does not understand anything in it.

A memorable light novel.

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