The Land of Decoration – Grace McCleen

First of all, I want to thank The Random House Group for sending me a copy of this wonderful, wonderful book. It is truly unique and a book I’m already looking forward to re-reading.

‘The Land of Decoration’ tells the story of 10 year old Judith who’s mother died when she was very young so she lives alone with her father, a devout member of a religious cult.  Judith is isolated from other children at school who see her as being different and strange as she and her father live their lives by the very strict rules of the Cult.  Her father, stricken by the grief of having lost his wife, is unaware of Judith’s life at school and how victimized she is.  The book makes you want to scream at him for being so blind to his daughter’s needs but yet it is impossible to hate him as you know he is a good man, and you feel so powerless as you sit and watch the bullies turn their attention to him and their home too.  It is a very emotional book but despite all the harassment, violence and neglect and the very-real (to Judith and her father) fast approaching Doomsday, this is an uplifting book.

‘In the beginning, there was an empty room, a little bit of space… a little bit of time.

I said: ‘I am going to make fields,’ and I made them from table mats, carpet, brown corduroy and felt. Then I made rivers from crepe paper, cling film and shiny tinfoil and mountains from papier mache and bark.  And I looked at the fields and I looked at the rivers and I looked at the mountains and I saw that they were good.’

Judith spends a great deal of time in her room, creating her own Land of Decoration made out of scraps of paper and fabric, pieces of rubbish and various craft items.  Over time, she comes to realise that the World she has created in her room – which mirrors the town she lives in – has an impact on the real world outside.  When Judith hears the ‘voice of God’ telling her to create a snow storm in the Land of Decoration, she cannot believe her eyes when the next day the street outside her house is covered with snow.  This ‘Voice’ gets creepier and more insistent as the book progresses to a startling climax which I won’t tell you about any more for fear of spoiling the story.  Read it, be moved by it and love it as I have.

Mice come out to play….

I read the fantastic Mice by Gordon Reece in one sitting and loved it. The story goes like this – teenage girl bullied at her high school.  When things go that one step too far, she and her mother up sticks and move  to a remote part of the countryside where their house is the only one for miles around. Sound like the perfect escape? It is… until one night when someone comes knocking at the door and their whole world is turned upside down again.
This book has been selected as one of this year’s ’50 Books You Can’t Put Down’ by the Australian Government’s ‘Get reading’ scheme, and I can understand why.  It makes you think, it’s an interesting subject matter, it grips you and as much as you like the main characters, they do things which really annoy you too.  I love that in a book.  If I start yelling at them in my head, then I know the author has ‘got’ me!  I don’t want to write anymore for fear of giving anything away.  Part of the charm of this book is that you don’t know what’s going to happen.  If you haven’t come across it yet, then I suggest that you do so pretty quick.

Oh, and if anyone would like a copy of this year’s 50 Books You Can’t Put Down booklet, post a message on this posting and let me know of a book that you found hard to put down…

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