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A Children's Bible

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A Children’s Bible follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, the children decide to run away when a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, embarking on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. Lydia Millet’s prophetic and heartbreaking stor A Children’s Bible follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, the children decide to run away when a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, embarking on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. Lydia Millet’s prophetic and heartbreaking story of generational divide offers a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.


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A Children’s Bible follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, the children decide to run away when a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, embarking on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. Lydia Millet’s prophetic and heartbreaking stor A Children’s Bible follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, the children decide to run away when a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, embarking on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. Lydia Millet’s prophetic and heartbreaking story of generational divide offers a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.

30 review for A Children's Bible

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    I love the premise and the use of first person plural. More layered than you might think. It’s a story about precious teenagers who are simply over their parents and then it becomes something else entirely. I think there could have been more development of the catalytic event and it’s aftermath. The ending starts to unravel. But still, I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Despite what didn’t work, I believed in the narrator and the rest of the kids. Really smart writing, too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marchpane

    A Children’s Bible is a weird shapeshifter of a novel. It morphs in gradual, surprising ways as you read. I enjoyed this aspect so much that I highly recommend going in cold—don’t even read the blurb!—with the caveat that, if you like your fiction strictly realistic, this might not be the book for you. But if you are reading this review, it might already be too late for that. So, without giving away more than the blurb already does, A Children’s Bible is a wry, literary coming of age tale, in A Children’s Bible is a weird shapeshifter of a novel. It morphs in gradual, surprising ways as you read. I enjoyed this aspect so much that I highly recommend going in cold—don’t even read the blurb!—with the caveat that, if you like your fiction strictly realistic, this might not be the book for you. But if you are reading this review, it might already be too late for that. So, without giving away more than the blurb already does, A Children’s Bible is a wry, literary coming of age tale, in which several families with teen & pre-teen children share a holiday lakehouse … until their summer idyll is interrupted by the apocalypse. The teenage Eve narrates, using a lot of the first-person plural as she speaks collectively for the children. They despise their degenerate, cocktail-addled parents, and devise all sorts of games and other means to avoid them over the long, languid days. The parents are dangerously negligent, too busy having their ‘last hurrah’ to care about anything; the children camp on the beach for three days, returning to the house when a violent storm approaches; waters rise, flooding the grounds. After this ‘Flood’ arrives, more biblical references come thick and fast. Eve’s little brother Jack uses a bible to decode the strange events, saying: “…it’s a story. Things are symbols.” Jack doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe in nature. When men with guns show up, things drifted into too-familiar Hollywood-movie brutality. Being set in America, maybe this was the only logical direction Millet could take. But this is ultimately a minor detour, and the earlier tone returns: a hazy, surreal dream in the midst of doom. A Children’s Bible takes on the generational burden of climate change, and encodes it into familiar tropes from literary fiction, apocalypse tales, and religious eschatology. It’s a story, things are symbols. But it is also moving, even sweet at times. The measured trajectory from realistic, to implausible, to surreal, befits a world ‘caught off guard’ by a slow-moving and completely foreseeable crisis. 4.5 stars, rounded up.

  3. 4 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    Finalist for the 2020 National Book Awards! ‘That was the sad thing about my molecules: they wouldn’t remember him.’ The world ravaged by climate change, society thrashing in its death throes, a possible pandemic looming...a few years ago this might have seemed to some like the works of speculative apocalyptic fiction (or a natural prediction of the future to others). Lydia Millet’s newest novel, A Children’s Bible, tackles this potential future in a utterly engaging story that juxtaposes the yout Finalist for the 2020 National Book Awards! ‘That was the sad thing about my molecules: they wouldn’t remember him.’ The world ravaged by climate change, society thrashing in its death throes, a possible pandemic looming...a few years ago this might have seemed to some like the works of speculative apocalyptic fiction (or a natural prediction of the future to others). Lydia Millet’s newest novel, A Children’s Bible, tackles this potential future in a utterly engaging story that juxtaposes the youth culture with their parental generation in the handling of mass chaos. Set in some idyllic beach town on the East coast, a group of former college friends have gathered for one last hurrah in a rented house, bringing their children who detest the adults and the way they ignore impending doom by doing nothing beyond dancing and drinking. The children band together, initially through a game of trying to hide which adults they belong to, and inevitably set off on their own course of survival when everything comes crashing down. The novel is unfortunately exclusive to the narratives of white upper-middle class society despite urgent warnings that oppressed groups of people will be harmed the most from such catastrophe. Rife with Biblical allusions and metaphors, Millet examines generational divides and toxic social constructs in an apocalyptic novel that will certainly keep you up late eagerly reading onward. Millet does well by giving life to a story in a fairly ready-made apocalyptic landscape. At this point, one does not have to dig too hard to find the data on impending climate crisis, or the vocal denialists. At present, scientists are warning of disaster a decade or so away. In the novel, it is no longer minimized as a political position for debate but an undeniable reality everyone is watching unfold. Eve and her companions are very aware of this--at the start of the book she is weighing how to break the news to her innocent 11 year old brother Jack--though still not sure what to make of it until the collapse finally happens. The adults, however, continue to always look away. In her book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein talks about the many ways we avoid engaging with the impending climate crisis--or acknowledging then looking away again--thus making us complicit in its inevitability through our inaction: ‘We engage in this odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia for perfectly rational reasons. We deny because we fear that letting in the full reality of this crisis will change everything. And we are right.’ The adults in this novel spend their time laughing and drinking and carrying on upholding the same society they know deep down is pushing everyone closer to the cliff’s edge. In the youth group, the frustration with their inaction manifests itself in disgust and distrust. ‘They shamed us,’ the narrator, Eve (many of the Biblical allusions are not exactly subtle), says of the parents, ‘they were a cautionary tale.’ They actively undermine the parent’s fun vacation and the bond over their shared disdain winks at the social tensions between the Boomer and Millennial Generation. For this purpose it seems Millet had written the dialogue of the teenage group to reflect Millennials. At first the dialogue fell flat for me as it seemed to be outdated slang and did not sound like a modern day teenager. It does, however, sound like how we talked when I was that age. When they meet with a group of campers from the highest echelons of society--rich blonde boys on private yachts with famous parents who own apocalypse bunkers (‘with eleven backup generators!’ boasts one)--we see another youth culture that has dealt with the failures of the previous generations through a more Machiavellian approach and hide behind the wealth. The same accumulation of wealth that has set the world on a crash course, one of the boys notes. “Listen. We know we let you down,” said a mother. “But what could we have done, really?” “Fight,” said Rafe. “Did you ever fight?” “Or did you just do exactly what you wanted?” said Jen. “Always?” When a multi-day storm devastates the land the plot erupts along with the collapse of polite society. Jack, who has been given an illustrated children’s Bible by one of the mothers, begins to draw connections between the book and their predicament. They weather the storm in an “ark”--a treefort he and a hearing impaired boy Shel have filled with animals they rescued from the storm--and then set off with a man they found who has drifted down the river to a safe house he knows about, leaving the parents behind to their own vices. While the many Bible references are clever, they tend to be quite heavy-handed and not particularly fresh. While I did quite enjoy the way Paul the former tax collector is played out through a member of the armed militia that inevitably invades, many of the Biblical stories-come-to-life aren’t particularly exciting and fairly obvious, such as a list of homestead rules with “don’t make noise on the weekend” for example. That said, the references are fun--three Trail Angels that show up at a birth and provide guidance is clever and charming--and don’t push a religious message per say. What Millet does well is use the allusions to create a sense of history-repeating-itself and while it relies heavily on the metaphors it never fully becomes an allegory, and this works to the benefit of the novel. It is not necessarily a religious novel, and much of the biblical usage becomes a message of believing in science. Jack decides he has decoded the Bible to be a metaphor with God as a stand in for Nature, Jesus as a stand in for Science, though he is still working out the Holy Spirit. ‘[I]f we believe science is real,’ he proclaims, ‘then we can act. And we’ll be saved.’ As noted earlier, this is all part of Millet hoping to appeal to an audience that, it seems, she has determined through marketing algorithms will be something like middle aged white people who have a familiarity with Biblical teachings but wouldn’t view reworking them in a climate change novel to be blasphemous. If she is trying to push people towards expanding their views, that is cool, but the erasure of marginalized communities or the exponentially worse fates that will befall lower classes--particularly on racial lines--is rather unfortunate. Also perhaps only adds to the dangers that they face when couching everything in a white, middle-class society. The militia that arrive appear to be lower class--also white--which does tend to typecast anyone on the lower end of the financial spectrum as likely criminals. Additionally, the handling of the character Low--an adopted boy who can trace his ancestors back to Genghis Khan--is fairly problematic. Eve continuously gripes on how his manner of dress makes him undesirable and frequently is disgusted by the memory of kissing him and saying his tongue tasted like a ‘old banana’. While an argument could be made that Millet is showing how white middle-class culture distorts and rots culture, especially with the banana reference it still seems to judge the only character of Color based on their ‘exoticism’. There is a progressive attempt to critique society though, such as a few reprimands over homophobia from one of the younger boys and a character correcting improper when referring to trans folk. Eve has an obsession with looks, though, that does work well into the message of the novel. She is disgusted by aging bodies (admittedly there is a lot of ageism that is inherent to this book), dislikes Low’s wearing of tie-dyed shirts and short shorts, etc. Much of this is critical, however, to a consumerist culture. ‘It suggested we’d had a low bar or triumph, in recent history. A dash of lipstick qualified, a haircut and some styling gel. A new outfit. That was what the human spirit had turned into.’ Aiming this particularly at clothing does nudge towards the expulsion from Eden when Adam and Eve were found ashamed of their nakedness. As the novel progresses, Eve drops much of this tone as she sees the ways life takes people in unexpected directions and so much of ourselves is forged in a society that is pushing towards our own destruction. She has a vision midway through the novel where she begins to reflect on our purer selves that are lost in the world and, finally, is able to give empathy to those she had detested. ‘They’d always been there, I thought blearily, and they’d always wanted to be more than they were. They should always be thought of as individuals, I saw. Each person, fully grown, was sick or sad, with problems attached to them like broken limbs. Each one had special needs.’ One particularly positive aspect of the novel is the way the youth attempt to form a sustainable society. Millet does well to demonstrate that a union with the land in which one does not take more than it can give is a way forward. She avoids the eco-fascist approach that ‘humans are the cancer’ which ignores indigenous groups and societies that have managed to care for the environment in a productive manner and instead focuses her criticism on those who abuse the land and harm the environment. There is a championing of the human spirit in those who are able to adapt and find better, more efficient ways in living. This is once again juxtaposed with the adult group who cannot strip themselves of a life that is never coming back. The parents attempt to continue their job over Skype meetings (oh if only Millet knew it would have been Zoom) and fall into despair wanting to return to their normal. It is an interesting point being made in a book coming out pre-COVID but released as Americans were so divided over reopening the economy despite a pandemic still looming. Despite a few misgivings, A Children’s Bible is quite an exciting and enjoyable novel. The relationship between Eve and her brother adds a tender heart amidst a dark and chaotic story, and there is a depth that makes for an enjoyable dive textually and a fast-moving plot that has one surprise after the next. Think Lord of the Flies meets The Road. I enjoyed this one, though I feel that Octavia Butler made better use of some of these themes in Parable of the Sower, though the interplay between generations in this one was really thought provoking and entertaining. This is a book that will especially hit home right now as we are all still navigating a pandemic. 3 / 5

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Biblical apocalypse, climate Armageddon, Lord of the Flies and a little of The Road, with Pandora box thrown in for good measure. If you read this you will see where these references fit and maybe have a few of your own. What a story, a story that takes much from today's concerns and multiplies them. I'm going to say only a little about the story itself, I think that is better for future readers. There are parents, hedonistic, freely imbibing and showing little concern for their children. The ch Biblical apocalypse, climate Armageddon, Lord of the Flies and a little of The Road, with Pandora box thrown in for good measure. If you read this you will see where these references fit and maybe have a few of your own. What a story, a story that takes much from today's concerns and multiplies them. I'm going to say only a little about the story itself, I think that is better for future readers. There are parents, hedonistic, freely imbibing and showing little concern for their children. The children have learned not to trust their parents and have pretty much starting takin care of themselves. There is a storm, many biblical illusions, but this is not a religious tome. It is a crisis exaggerated, or so I hope. Or maybe a long overdue warning. What can happen if we don't wake up and change our materialistic ways. Can be read as a parable, a fable, each reader I'm sure will find their own interpretation. It is a clever novel, beautifully written and will provide much fodder for thought. ARC from Edelweiss

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    DNF @ 30% *sobbing* I adore Lydia Millet, and her novel Sweet Lamb of Heaven is one of the most memorable books I've ever read, but I think this particular book of hers just isn't for me. I will be anxiously awaiting her future releases though, and remain a hardcore fan. *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy. DNF @ 30% *sobbing* I adore Lydia Millet, and her novel Sweet Lamb of Heaven is one of the most memorable books I've ever read, but I think this particular book of hers just isn't for me. I will be anxiously awaiting her future releases though, and remain a hardcore fan. *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    In the beginning, the kids are alright. The adults, though, are already sliding toward Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s the starting point of Lydia Millet’s novel “A Children’s Bible,” which offers a bracing reflection on the generational conflict playing out in the atmosphere. I swear on a stack of copies that it’s a blistering little classic: “Lord of the Flies” for a generation of young people left to fend for themselves on their parents’ rapidly warming planet. Millet writes brilliantly about everyt In the beginning, the kids are alright. The adults, though, are already sliding toward Sodom and Gomorrah. That’s the starting point of Lydia Millet’s novel “A Children’s Bible,” which offers a bracing reflection on the generational conflict playing out in the atmosphere. I swear on a stack of copies that it’s a blistering little classic: “Lord of the Flies” for a generation of young people left to fend for themselves on their parents’ rapidly warming planet. Millet writes brilliantly about everything — politics, physics, mermaids — and she’s one of the leading writers of environmental fiction. As Richard Powers did in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Overstory,” Millet addresses the existential crisis of climate change with a technical understanding of the science and a humane understanding of the heart. She’s also ferociously witty. That rare combination has made her stories about species extinction and global warming profound and weirdly amusing. “A Children’s Bible” moves like a tornado tearing along an unpredictable path through our complacency. It begins as a snarky teen comedy. A group of families has rented an old mansion together for the summer. The adults are all embarrassing, drunken bores. “As the evenings wore on, some parents got it into their heads to dance,” Millet writes. “A flash of life would move their lumpen bodies. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    5+ out of 5. Sometimes you read a book that strikes at your present moment more forcefully than the author could've ever imagined. A CHILDREN'S BIBLE is that kind of book, and if there's any justice, this is the book that people are going to come out of the coronavirus quarantine holding up as The Book of this time. A bunch of rich (or rich-ish) parents descend on a big house for a summer vacation with all of their kids. Evie, one of the oldest, narrates a scene of debauchery and semi-idyll: the k 5+ out of 5. Sometimes you read a book that strikes at your present moment more forcefully than the author could've ever imagined. A CHILDREN'S BIBLE is that kind of book, and if there's any justice, this is the book that people are going to come out of the coronavirus quarantine holding up as The Book of this time. A bunch of rich (or rich-ish) parents descend on a big house for a summer vacation with all of their kids. Evie, one of the oldest, narrates a scene of debauchery and semi-idyll: the kids are left largely to their own devices while the parents drink and fuck and fuck off. But a massive storm hits and the kids strike out for somewhere else, having determined that their parents can no longer take care of them. They manage to hole up on a nearby property, but even that tranquility can't last. I won't say more about the plot, because to read it (I'm sure at any time but particularly right now) is to be thoroughly ensorceled. Millet has written a great climate change novel, a great novel of the collapse of late capitalism, and a great novel of the hope of the young to see us through this time of terror and into a new, brighter, better world. I'm not one of the young any longer, although I hope I can stay on their side of the divide. The world our parents and even some members of my generation are pillaging right now, for the last hits off a dying bowl, cannot survive. It cannot sustain. The center cannot hold. If we are to believe in something, perhaps it is Jack's idea -- that God is Nature, Jesus is Science, and the Holy Ghost is Art. And that art must, as the book ends, be the ghost in the machine. I'm unmoored, in the best way, by this book. Absolutely fantastic, utterly necessary. Read this book, soon as you can.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    It’s tough to make light of anything these days. Sure, you could turn to social media for some clever memes and a quick laugh. But those are rooted in fear, one that has sadly united us, dulled our perceptions of brightness down to a perpetually overcast state. What’s more, we’re on edge more than ever; jokes that would delight most are falling flat, missing their mark. “Too soon,” they’d retort. But then I think about our current tumultuous state of affairs – or, really, any tumultuous state of It’s tough to make light of anything these days. Sure, you could turn to social media for some clever memes and a quick laugh. But those are rooted in fear, one that has sadly united us, dulled our perceptions of brightness down to a perpetually overcast state. What’s more, we’re on edge more than ever; jokes that would delight most are falling flat, missing their mark. “Too soon,” they’d retort. But then I think about our current tumultuous state of affairs – or, really, any tumultuous state of affairs – through the lens of adolescent eyes. Not so much my daughter’s (she’s 5, blissfully oblivious to the severity of COVID) but that of teenagers – kids whose worlds are inherently insular. Through casual observations alone I’ve been witness to flippancy, disregard. And for as irritated as I should be, I think about how I would’ve reacted to such adversity when I was their age. I didn't know any better back then; how could I expect for kids these days to know any better now? Does this explain the glibness exhibited by the children that center Lydia Millet’s modern Revelation, A Children’s Bible? Perhaps so. What I can confirm, however, is that such lightness towards a world unraveling before one’s very eyes allowed me to consume Millet’s work more openly. I eschewed adult gravity for juvenile buoyancy, imagined myself at 15 facing the End of Times. And yet the novel still failed to connect. I then considered A Children’s Bible’s religious angle. As one who is not by any means a man of God, I thought maybe I’d let my personal beliefs get in the way of my reading experience. Ironically, the parallels between the New Testament’s Revelation and Millet’s contemporary version of it resulted in the strongest narrative A Children’s Bible had to offer. So, I pondered Millet’s work from a different viewpoint, one more readily relatable – through the eyes of the adults in A Children’s Bible. They’re portrayed as selfish, neglectful, prone to excess; yet they're ultimately punished for their sins. It felt as much like a condemnation on modern-day parenting as it did a warning: to pay attention. Speaking of attention, I suppose some context would help in the matters of this fittingly unfocused diatribe. A Children’s Bible is the story of a dozen – one biblical parallel the novel could’ve done without – children, most of which in their teens, forced to summer at an expansive (and expensive) East Coast lake house. We learn their parents were old college friends, yet oddly these children are strangers to one another. We also learn their parents are mostly well-to-do professionals who would rather spend their vacation in a sex- and/or substance-induced haze than paying even the slightest bit of attention to their children. The kids bond over this shared neglection and their blasé attitudes towards it. They even make games out of it. We should feel bad for them; at the very least sympathetic. If anything, I felt bored. As if sensing this, Millet then abruptly shifts the narrative from social commentary to dystopian fiction. After a short camping trip near the ocean – whereupon they meet (and party with) some slightly older WASPy one-percenters – the children return to the lake house to see it’s been ravaged by a hurricane. And yet the parents continue to do as they’ve done: drugs and each other. The kids, led by Eve (who narrates), are left to their own devices. Again. All the while, Eve’s little brother, Jack, has started reading “A Child’s Bible: Stories From the Old and New Testaments,” as gifted to him by one of the parents. As the weather – and the destruction it has caused – continues to worsen, Jack notices parallels between the storm and the stories in his book. It made for an interesting twist; had it been streamlined throughout A Children’s Bible, I think the novel would’ve lived up to its title. Suffice to say, it never does. For a novel so slim (only 224 pages), A Children’s Bible manages to do too much (or try to). Outside of Eve and Jack, I couldn’t tell you a thing about any of their many, many cohorts, let alone name them (save for Val, but only because she annoyingly repeated whatever anyone said). For someone as skilled as Millet, I found her lack of character development to be wholly – holy? – disappointing. What’s more, her attempt at blending satire with scripture felt messy and unfocused. Above all, my biggest issue with A Children’s Bible was its tone. The novel never took itself seriously enough for me to return the favor. Moreover, it made me care less and less about something I’d wanted nothing more than to love. I gave it every opportunity, too, having temporarily shed my own sensitivities for the sake of levity, of something true. Unfortunately, A Children’s Bible didn’t provide me with much to believe in.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Sort of a Lord of the Flies meets the fourth season of the Walking Dead, A Children’s Bible is a fable about climate change, neglectful parents and the invincible optimism of children. It is rather a dark portrayal of adulthood with parents who have completely abdicated their roles in raising kids. The apocalyptic background sort of parallels the Bible stories which Jack reads along the way. The protagonist is his sister Evie who has pluck and grit and bears through the many catastrophes being a Sort of a Lord of the Flies meets the fourth season of the Walking Dead, A Children’s Bible is a fable about climate change, neglectful parents and the invincible optimism of children. It is rather a dark portrayal of adulthood with parents who have completely abdicated their roles in raising kids. The apocalyptic background sort of parallels the Bible stories which Jack reads along the way. The protagonist is his sister Evie who has pluck and grit and bears through the many catastrophes being a mother and friend to her younger brother. It is a rather quick read and fairly well-written. I could almost go for five stars, but there was a touch of predictability to the story. Pprize thinks that this one is the front-runner for the Pulitzer. I think it may be better than the other three contenders I have read (Missionaries, Dear Ann, and Sorry for Your Trouble: Stories), and it is a better read than last year’s winner, but I am holding out hope that one of the other eleven will stand out a bit more. I think that Deacon King Kong, The Vanishing Half, or Jack should win. My List of Pulitzer 2021 Hopefuls: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    National Book Award for Fiction Shortlist 2020. First of all this is NOT a bible. Instead, Millet has written a dystopian tale where twelve children are far more mature than their alcohol-, drug, and sex-obsessed parents. The negligent parents have rented a huge house for the summer and have left the children to fend for themselves. Not surprisingly, both the parents’ and their children’s lives become forever altered when a severe storm strikes and society begins to break down. There are striking National Book Award for Fiction Shortlist 2020. First of all this is NOT a bible. Instead, Millet has written a dystopian tale where twelve children are far more mature than their alcohol-, drug, and sex-obsessed parents. The negligent parents have rented a huge house for the summer and have left the children to fend for themselves. Not surprisingly, both the parents’ and their children’s lives become forever altered when a severe storm strikes and society begins to break down. There are striking similarities to Biblical stories—there is a birth in a barn, a plague, a ‘savior’, and more—but these allegorical illusions fizzle out. What the children decide is that God is nature, and Jesus is science. What is implied is that science can save us from catastrophe due to climate change, but only if we act now. The alternative is that we drift like the clueless parents and do nothing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This novel from the Tournament of Books shortlist starts with a multi-family vacation on the coast, with parents that are a bit absentee and children who talk like they have PhDs. A storm comes and along the way it starts to become clear that these are not normal times or circumstances, and it rolls over into an apocalypse journey/survival tale. If the tone of this post comes across as unimpressed, that is an accurate interpretation. Add the wandering tropes to heavy handed allegory (a girl name This novel from the Tournament of Books shortlist starts with a multi-family vacation on the coast, with parents that are a bit absentee and children who talk like they have PhDs. A storm comes and along the way it starts to become clear that these are not normal times or circumstances, and it rolls over into an apocalypse journey/survival tale. If the tone of this post comes across as unimpressed, that is an accurate interpretation. Add the wandering tropes to heavy handed allegory (a girl named Eve, saving animals, a flood, a discussion of knowledge) and this was just not a great read for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Neale

    Shortlisted for the 2021 TOB. They are the children of the elite, on holidays with their parents in a huge mansion. And yet the children become bored, day in, day out, watching their parents get drunk, and lounge around. Each parent embarrassing their child. The parents neglect to even acknowledge their children, so the children decide to strike out on their own leaving their languorous mothers and fathers behind to themselves. While reading this I could not help but be constantly reminded of Will Shortlisted for the 2021 TOB. They are the children of the elite, on holidays with their parents in a huge mansion. And yet the children become bored, day in, day out, watching their parents get drunk, and lounge around. Each parent embarrassing their child. The parents neglect to even acknowledge their children, so the children decide to strike out on their own leaving their languorous mothers and fathers behind to themselves. While reading this I could not help but be constantly reminded of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. Although the children decide to enter their isolation voluntarily, they are still left to fend for themselves, and when things start to take a turn for the worse, they must fight for survival. Millet throws the works at the children. A destructive hurricane, induced, of course, from global warming and our increasing battle with the climate catastrophes that we have brought upon our world. Suspicions of a virus, a pandemic that is sweeping closer. Armed militia rednecks, who only enforce, and add to the suspicion, that something has gone wrong out there in the world. Millet also creates the feeling that the children are ultimately the ones in control, and not the parents. In the aftermath of the hurricane, the parents seem paralyzed to act, they choose to get even more drunk and stoned. Is this a jibe, an accusing finger, that it will be left up to today’s generation and the following, to repair the damage that we have done to the world’s fragile state. The parents have relieved the children of their phones, and their access to the net, that vital tether for many of them, is severed. This forces them to search for entertainment in other ways. Nature steps in for the place of technology. They play in the trees, the water, they make a game in which each of them must guess the other’s parents. I feel that this is Millet again giving us a message. Social media, the internet, needs to be controlled, moderated. We need to get back in touch with nature. Evie is the narrator of the story, and it is her little brother, Jack, who ties this narrative to the title. Jack has with him a children’s bible. He is very inquisitive and curious, not just content to read it, he wants to find meaning and answers, and eventually believes he has found the answer to the Holy Trinity and God. For me this is a novel full of allegory, and personally I love these types of novels. 4 Stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    James

    3.5 stars — My feelings about “Generation Z” can roughly be divided into Pre-Parkland vs. Post-Parkland . (I'm referring to Parkland, Florida and the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 that inspired the student survivors to rise up and demand common-sense gun reform laws).  Pre-Parkland : Shallow, semi-literate spoiled brats always glued to their phones and counting Instagram followers. Post-Parkland : Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. They're not that bad. The 3.5 stars — My feelings about “Generation Z” can roughly be divided into Pre-Parkland vs. Post-Parkland . (I'm referring to Parkland, Florida and the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 that inspired the student survivors to rise up and demand common-sense gun reform laws).  Pre-Parkland : Shallow, semi-literate spoiled brats always glued to their phones and counting Instagram followers. Post-Parkland : Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. They're not that bad. They might even be (gasp) better than my generation? Both versions show up in Lydia Millet's cautionary dystopian parable about two generations (Gen Z and their X/Boomer parents) confronting a not-too-distant future in which the catastrophic consequences of climate change start to occur all at once. In the early chapters, it feels like we've been dropped into a darkly funny Wes Anderson comedy about a group of affluent teenagers (and a few younger siblings) forced to spend an extended summer vacation at a rented coastal mansion with their drunken, pill-popping parents. I won't say much more about the plot, since I was lucky enough to go into this knowing next to nothing and I think that really enhanced my enjoyment. Let's just say having their phones locked away in the mansion safe by their parents ends up being the LEAST of these kids' worries before the summer is over.... This is one of those books that appears to be one thing, then takes a sharp left turn and seems to be something entirely different....But wait, it's not exactly that either, what the heck is happening??? The author teases and subverts expectations in a way I found captivating. Of course this can make things a bit tonally uneven and stylistically messy at times. In places, Millet seems to be aiming for the pathos and earnestness of straightforward drama. But then she’ll veer off into absurdist social satire in ways that feel detached from any realistic story. Characters start talking and behaving unlike anybody I've ever known in real life. I don't have a problem with either approach on its own, but I found the mash-up here to be a bit jarring. It muddled the message and limited the overall effectiveness for me on both an intellectual and emotional level. Still, who can't forgive a few tonal clashes when the writing is this GOOD? Millet's prose is crisp and dry as a pile of raked autumn leaves. She is tough and unsparing, but never hopeless or cruel. Reading this while still in the midst (but hopefully closer to the end) of a global pandemic made it all the more chilling. Not only that, but I can literally turn on the TV right this second and see stories of drought, wildfires, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and entire species nearing extinction. Yet so many in my generation and older (myself included) would rather bury our heads in the sand and pretend like none of this is happening. As if ignoring the problem or punting it to the next generation will miraculously make it all go away?!? Which brings me back to that whole Pre-Parkland vs. Post-Parkland divide. Not unlike some of the young characters in this novel, those brave young students refused to be prisoners of their own trauma and grief. They were fed up with waiting for us "grown-ups" to do the right and responsible thing, and their eloquent, righteous rage couldn't help but surprise and inspire. Considering this generation is probably our last, best hope to save us (and the planet) from ourselves, I think I can learn to live with them pulling their phones out at dinner. 😅

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I'm a huge Millet fan, and a devourer of all things dystopian and apocalyptic but this one felt a little paint by numbers for me. The Biblical parallels seemed pretty anvil-like (although there are undoubtedly more than I noticed), and the central theme - of a generation of adults who has failed the earth and its own children - is repeated with a rather monotonous insistence. There is no change or nuance in this dynamic. Neither is there much variation or development in character among the gaggle I'm a huge Millet fan, and a devourer of all things dystopian and apocalyptic but this one felt a little paint by numbers for me. The Biblical parallels seemed pretty anvil-like (although there are undoubtedly more than I noticed), and the central theme - of a generation of adults who has failed the earth and its own children - is repeated with a rather monotonous insistence. There is no change or nuance in this dynamic. Neither is there much variation or development in character among the gaggle of teenagers that are our protagonists. The book is largely narrated in the first person plural, and except for Evie and her brother Jack, the "children's" personalities remain on a very high sketched in level. Nonetheless, the book is well written, with a good deal of narrative tension, and some wry humor. There are some very scary scenes, rendered scarier by their believability. Not the greatest addition to the evergrowing category of near-future apocalyptic novels, but not a waste of time either.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vonda

    A beautifully flowing and wonderful book about a group of teens, thrown together by their parents during a group family vacation, who band together against the drunken and irresponsible adults around them. It begins as a story about how kids view their parents and flows into a complex story about how the young people survive and take charge of an apocalyptic world. Eve’s little brother has a children’s bible, and the world around them mimics the things he reads about, including Noah and the floo A beautifully flowing and wonderful book about a group of teens, thrown together by their parents during a group family vacation, who band together against the drunken and irresponsible adults around them. It begins as a story about how kids view their parents and flows into a complex story about how the young people survive and take charge of an apocalyptic world. Eve’s little brother has a children’s bible, and the world around them mimics the things he reads about, including Noah and the flood, a group of “angels” that help them, and the end times of Revelations. First of Lydia Millet's books but certainly won't be the last!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Maybe it's because I'm a parent but I found this book to be simplistic and insulting. It's a story about the end of the world brought on by climate change where the children are portrayed as intelligent, responsible, organized and mature and the parents are essentially stoners who have allowed this thing to happen. Climate change had been happening long before the current crop of parents were out of diapers themselves and the reasons are more political than personal. It is very much tied to capit Maybe it's because I'm a parent but I found this book to be simplistic and insulting. It's a story about the end of the world brought on by climate change where the children are portrayed as intelligent, responsible, organized and mature and the parents are essentially stoners who have allowed this thing to happen. Climate change had been happening long before the current crop of parents were out of diapers themselves and the reasons are more political than personal. It is very much tied to capitalism. How many of today's young people eat animal products? Well that is one area where they can make an impact right now....just stop. And if you are reading this review and don't know what I'm talking about you need to educate yourself. There was also some drivel about Noah's Ark and trying to save the animals and that Jesus is science and the Holy Ghost is art. Very much a reach if you ask me. This is my first Millet and I would like to read more of her but I will have to be careful what I pick after this experience.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Mind-numbingly dull.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Quann

    I've been on a streak of really killer novels lately and the trend continues with Lydia Millet's excellent humorous apocalypse, A Children's Bible. The novel sees children of wealthy parents on a vacation as the climate begins to collapse. Forget whatever you're imagining and wait until you get a load of these totally inept and blotto parents. The prose is sharp, the children well-realized, and the tone a perfect emulsion of climate dread and humour. There's lots to unravel here: Christian symbol I've been on a streak of really killer novels lately and the trend continues with Lydia Millet's excellent humorous apocalypse, A Children's Bible. The novel sees children of wealthy parents on a vacation as the climate begins to collapse. Forget whatever you're imagining and wait until you get a load of these totally inept and blotto parents. The prose is sharp, the children well-realized, and the tone a perfect emulsion of climate dread and humour. There's lots to unravel here: Christian symbolism, the apathy of the parents as a surrogate for society at large, and children who step up to the plate of a ball game they've already lost. But I'm still parsing that all out for myself, and I think you should too. I'm going to let this sensational little book percolate in the back of my brain since I can tell it'll be staying in my brain rent free for the next while. It's only the best books that linger like that!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Story

    In an age where the young justifiably blame the old for the devastation of the planet, this dystopian tale of youthful alienation and environmental apocalypse resonated deeply with me. A group of self-indulgent and wealthy parents, enjoying a two month summer sea-side debauch, are so dazed by sex, alcohol and drugs they barely notice the end-times arrive. Their children, far more canny, are left to fend for themselves. Narrated by the sharp-eyed, cynical Eve, the story grabbed me from the first In an age where the young justifiably blame the old for the devastation of the planet, this dystopian tale of youthful alienation and environmental apocalypse resonated deeply with me. A group of self-indulgent and wealthy parents, enjoying a two month summer sea-side debauch, are so dazed by sex, alcohol and drugs they barely notice the end-times arrive. Their children, far more canny, are left to fend for themselves. Narrated by the sharp-eyed, cynical Eve, the story grabbed me from the first paragraph and didn't let go. While I was sometimes confused by who some of the other children were, the plot and writing kept me hooked. Some passages were so beautiful and captured so clearly my own feelings about what is happening to our planet that I had to copy them into my journal to savor later. This was my first novel by Lydia Millet and I look forward to reading more by her.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    An unflinching story that takes on the existential threat of climate change and the growing generational divide through the clear and resilient eyes of the youth most affected. If you care to look, there are tons of reviews and discussions about this National Book Award finalist. I found it impossible to put down, the feelings it invokes both precise and nebulous, mirroring and reflecting back the inevitable change on our horizon.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    In this broken, topsy-turvey world it’s no wonder that authors gravitate to the loss of innocence as a theme – particularly children turned feral. I recently finished The Luminous Republic and that book was still very much in my mind as I read A Children’s Bible. In almost disconcertingly spare and emotionless prose (another commonality with The Luminous Republic), Lydia Millet paints a world where adults and children are distinctly at odds. The parents, close college friends, decide to go on an In this broken, topsy-turvey world it’s no wonder that authors gravitate to the loss of innocence as a theme – particularly children turned feral. I recently finished The Luminous Republic and that book was still very much in my mind as I read A Children’s Bible. In almost disconcertingly spare and emotionless prose (another commonality with The Luminous Republic), Lydia Millet paints a world where adults and children are distinctly at odds. The parents, close college friends, decide to go on an “offendingly long reunion” with their offspring. The children—held in an “analog prison” without access to their devices and screens— bear witness to their alcohol-soaked ennui about things that matter. Relegated to the attic, the children eventually hit upon a leisure pursuit: hiding their parentage until someone guesses what child goes with what parent. At the center of the story is Eve (no irony in THAT name¡) who watches the world fall apart, with a Noah’s Ark flood, and a future that hints strongly of climate change, extinction, government inaction, and the inevitable “people with guns.” She assumes the that her parents did not—preparing her beloved younger brother for the consequences of a world that is imploding. In one of the master strokes of this novel, that brother, Jack, relies on a children’s bible to gain understanding, but only after providing a carefully thought-out interpretation. “…if God stands for nature, then Jesus stands for science. That’s why they call Jesus God’s son. It doesn’t mean actual son. God doesn’t have sperm.” Later he says, “Science comes from nature. It’s kind of a branch of it. Like Jesus is a branch of God. And if we believe science is true, then we can act. And we’ll be saved.” For Jack, the earth, the climate, and the animals are Heaven’s part of the code. No argument there from this reader. The way that Lydia Millet approaches the generational divide and the faith divide as apocalyptic chaos begins to gather steam is inventive and imaginative – just what I’ve come to expect from this very talented author. I personally found the comedic and fable-like tone to be distracting and I admired more than loved this book. But certainly, it is worth reading.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I can’t decide if releasing a speculative fiction novel about a pandemic during a pandemic is the best marketing ever or the worst. Personally, I didn’t particularly care for it. And do I need to add a pandemic trigger warning to this? I long for the days of 6 months ago when no such question would have even occurred to me. But pandemic or not, the review must go on. The Children’s Bible has its moments. The humor is quite good for the most part, as are many of the wry observations made by our ch I can’t decide if releasing a speculative fiction novel about a pandemic during a pandemic is the best marketing ever or the worst. Personally, I didn’t particularly care for it. And do I need to add a pandemic trigger warning to this? I long for the days of 6 months ago when no such question would have even occurred to me. But pandemic or not, the review must go on. The Children’s Bible has its moments. The humor is quite good for the most part, as are many of the wry observations made by our child protagonists about their parents and adults in general. Mostly though, the book tries to be too many things. It’s a pandemic novel! It’s a climate change cautionary tale! It’s a really weird spin on Lord of the Flies! It’s a biblical parallel! The Lord of the Flies thing kind of worked. The biblical parallel didn’t. The pandemic stuff is unfortunately just too on the nose at the moment (no blame placed on the author for that one though. I doubt she saw COVID-19 coming when she wrote this). There’s some cleverness to the book’s bent on climate change, but mostly it’s nothing new and it gets lost in the sea of other subjects the book tries to address. This is a better book than Sweet Lamb of Heaven (hey, at least she used a real disease this time!), but ultimately the ambition of it far exceeds the execution.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Darryl Suite

    This book took a long time to get going. It took about 40 pages for me to get into its rhythm. I think it had to do with the jaded tone of the narrator. It slowed things down and it became tiring after awhile. By the way, jaded and deadpan narrators in these kind of stories seem to be trendy right now (Severance, Weather). A Children's Bible did manage to go into really surprising directions. And ⅔ into the book was actually pretty terrifying. But there was something missing. To be honest, I thin This book took a long time to get going. It took about 40 pages for me to get into its rhythm. I think it had to do with the jaded tone of the narrator. It slowed things down and it became tiring after awhile. By the way, jaded and deadpan narrators in these kind of stories seem to be trendy right now (Severance, Weather). A Children's Bible did manage to go into really surprising directions. And ⅔ into the book was actually pretty terrifying. But there was something missing. To be honest, I think the narration was kind of the downfall of the book. It was so focused on maintaining its cynical tone that it ended up diluting the potency of the actual story. I mean every single character is cynical and dejected. It's a lot. I didn't hate the book. I just wished I liked it more. 

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin Glover

    I've never understood why Lydia Millet isn't more famous. This novel did not change my sentiment. A group of families get together one summer and rent a mansion, the Great House, by the sea. From the very beginning, the children, most of whom are 16 and 17, do everything possible to distance themselves from their parents. They play a game the object of which is to prevent their friends from finding out to which parents they belong. "Hiding our parentage was a leisure pursuit, but one we took seri I've never understood why Lydia Millet isn't more famous. This novel did not change my sentiment. A group of families get together one summer and rent a mansion, the Great House, by the sea. From the very beginning, the children, most of whom are 16 and 17, do everything possible to distance themselves from their parents. They play a game the object of which is to prevent their friends from finding out to which parents they belong. "Hiding our parentage was a leisure pursuit, but one we took seriously." Their disdain for their parents is palpable. When they tell their parents about the game so they'll play along, one of the kids insists the parents should "[t]hink of the attic [where all the kids sleep] as a reservation. Imagine you're the white conquerors who brutally massacred our people. And we're the Indians." Wow. These kids are serious about keeping their parents away from them, going so far as comparing them to murderers. The kids create a system of accounting doling out merits and demerits to each other. "A merit was for an outrage successfully committed, a demerit for an act that should bring on humiliation. Juicy got merits for drooling into cocktails undetected, while Low got demerits for kissing up to a father." Aside from drinking to excess, and using cocaine the "worst of [the parents'] crimes was hard to pin down and therefore hard to punish correctly--the very quality of their being. The essence of their personalities." These kids are repulsed by their parents! By page 12, we know the teens are aware of their youth and that it won't last. "But the idea that those garbage-like figures that tottered around the great house were a vision of what lay in store--hell no...Had they had goals once? A simple sense of self-respect?...They shamed us. They were a cautionary tale." The teens would do anything to avoid being like their parents. In spite of the title, the book is not really about religion, although it has lots of biblical references. In fact, the book is told from the perspective of Eve (as in Adam and Eve). Evie is Jack's older sister. Jack carries around a children's bible a drunken mother gave him. The bible has lots of pictures and stories in it, including one about a talking snake and a lady who liked fruit, Jack tells Eve. The Bible is kind of a prophecy. Many of the events and disasters in the Bible seem to occur to the children, not the least of which is a huge storm that floods the area and puts holes in the Great House. The kids meet Burl in the woods, a groundskeeper who offers to help the kids "escape" after the storm when the parents refuse to leave. But first Jack insists on gathering animals from the woods, and carrying them away from the Great House after carving their names into the flooded house, the "Ark". The kids intend to drive to Juicy's house, a ten-bedroom mansion in Westchester County. But they find the roads blocked with fallen trees and the roads are impassable. They end up at the farm Burl was caretaking. There are other adults there that the kids call angels, again a Biblical reference. Jack's interest in the Bible is a bit scientific. He comes to realize that "God" is a code word for nature. "They say God but they mean nature...And we believe in nature." Indeed, the kids "respected the lake and stream and most of all the ocean." They believe in God. This is where Millet gets at the gist of why the kids distrust the parents--they don't care about the environment. They were artsy, educated, and rich types who got sloppy when drunk but who were slugs without alcohol. The kids' association with the parents "diminished us and compromised our personal integrity." The final straw for the kids was when the parents dose themselves with ecstasy and it appears that an orgy of sorts occurs. Mostly, it seems the kids are upset the parents have left the world a shittier place choosing personal comfort over protecting the environment. At the farm, horrors await much like the pictures in the Bible. Power lines and phone lines are down due to the storm. Roads are flooded. There is little cell service. From here, the story becomes one of survival of the fittest children. A kind of Lord of the Flies-type scenario. Millet asks what the one-percenters would do without the shelter of wealth. She shows the parents as concerned only with money, while the children learn to survive in the shattered world of crashed stock markets and crazy weather they inherited from their selfish parents. Whereas wealth was the biggest asset for the parents, resilience becomes the biggest asset for the children. We get a glimpse of what the world looks like when angry teens wrench it from the hands of adults. These adults "functioned passably in a limited domain. Specifically adapted to life in their own small niches. Habitat specialists..." It seems they cannot survive in the "real" world. Millet's writing is gorgeous. It's tinged with magical realism, especially at the end. I don't know how this book can be categorized. It's part thriller, part horror, part young adult novel. Whatever it is it's a fantastic book that highlights the atrocity of crimes against nature and the sole pursuit of money and how those actions affect younger generations.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    I read this in my ongoing effort to get through the National Book Award longlist, and I’m glad I did. In some ways, its themes are reminiscent of those of another finalist, Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind, but I much preferred Lydia Millet’s approach to his. Her voice is deeply idiosyncratic — wry and observant and surprising — and she leans into her off-kilter worldview with a welcome consistency. I especially loved her depiction of the wise and sensitive child Jack, and I felt like she di I read this in my ongoing effort to get through the National Book Award longlist, and I’m glad I did. In some ways, its themes are reminiscent of those of another finalist, Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind, but I much preferred Lydia Millet’s approach to his. Her voice is deeply idiosyncratic — wry and observant and surprising — and she leans into her off-kilter worldview with a welcome consistency. I especially loved her depiction of the wise and sensitive child Jack, and I felt like she did an excellent job of never letting me get ahead of where her strange and disturbing and darkly humorous tale was headed. I’ll definitely seek more of her work out after this.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hayley Stenger

    I was prepared not to really enjoy this book, but I am so glad I was wrong. The book did share an atmosphere with Lord of the Flies, and involved kids, but I think that is where the comparisons end for me. I did care about the kids and was fascinated by the biblical connections the book made and then... related to modern life and environmentalism. It was really well done.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alison Hardtmann

    When a group of people who went to college together rent a house for the summer, all the kids are relegated to bunk in the attic. As they watch their parents behave very badly, they decide to band together and to refuse all parental involvement for the summer. Evie is fifteen and she keeps an eye on her little brother, her parents being all too willing to ignore the children in favor of drinking and being with their old friends. When disaster in the form of a hurricane strikes, the children disc When a group of people who went to college together rent a house for the summer, all the kids are relegated to bunk in the attic. As they watch their parents behave very badly, they decide to band together and to refuse all parental involvement for the summer. Evie is fifteen and she keeps an eye on her little brother, her parents being all too willing to ignore the children in favor of drinking and being with their old friends. When disaster in the form of a hurricane strikes, the children discover that they are better off relying on each other and set off for safety. This is another fantastic and unusual novel by Lydia Millet. It's so well conceived and executed that after finishing, I had to sit back and just think about it for awhile. There's not a word or scene that isn't necessary to the story she's telling and despite the themes being clear, nothing is over-emphasized. If you're already a fan of this under-rated author, you'll love A Children's Bible, if you've never read anything by her, this is a fine place to start.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Proustitute (on hiatus)

    Once we had let them do everything for us—assumed they would. Then came the day we didn’t want them to. Still later we found out that they hadn’t done everything at all. They’d left out the important part. And it was known as: the future. An eerily prescient parable about the schisms between parents and children, as—headed into an unknown (and increasingly violent) future due to climate change, a hinted-at pandemic, and government inaction—parents drink to drown their sorrows and forget their p Once we had let them do everything for us—assumed they would. Then came the day we didn’t want them to. Still later we found out that they hadn’t done everything at all. They’d left out the important part. And it was known as: the future. An eerily prescient parable about the schisms between parents and children, as—headed into an unknown (and increasingly violent) future due to climate change, a hinted-at pandemic, and government inaction—parents drink to drown their sorrows and forget their pain, leaving their children to discover the truths about the world around them on their own. In A Children's Bible, Millet has really tapped into the generational divide, as well as the class divide in America, in terms of how reactive, non-reactive, or reactionary we get when faced with uncertainty, chaos, and the primordial push toward self-survival. 4.5 stars

  29. 4 out of 5

    jo

    wowzy this book is out! you can read it too! (i missed the subtext entirely when i read it. i'm so ashamed). ______ i can't even begin to imagine what the world will be like when this book comes out. let me take this back, since it's only a month from now. i imagine it will be pretty much as it is now, except many more people dead. which leads me to say, maybe don't read this if anxiety keeps you up nights. wait a bit. read whatever makes you sleep. escape. lydia millet has been writing about the wowzy this book is out! you can read it too! (i missed the subtext entirely when i read it. i'm so ashamed). ______ i can't even begin to imagine what the world will be like when this book comes out. let me take this back, since it's only a month from now. i imagine it will be pretty much as it is now, except many more people dead. which leads me to say, maybe don't read this if anxiety keeps you up nights. wait a bit. read whatever makes you sleep. escape. lydia millet has been writing about the demise of the world since at least the first book of hers i read, How the Dead Dream, which came out in 2009. HTDD is eerie and spooky, but, well, it was also ten years ago so i put back on the shelf it came from and tried to forget about it. how fast we are killing the planet! most of this book is, in fact, a little un-millety. it's narrated by a teenage girl, evie, who is all manners of sweet, and even though the demise of the world is here in spades, evie's and her friends' sweetness and uncanny political correctness, resourcefulness, and moral rectitude infuse the bulk of the book with a lovely tenderness. but of course millet will be millet so things are also magicky and strange and eerie and, well, as i said, read at your peril. our writers are our prophets. they and the young'uns, who'll have to figure out how to live when everything goes to shit. at some point one of the young people in this fable says to the adults, "why didn't you do anything?" the adult says, "what could i have done?" "you could have gotten angry." (i'm paraphrasing and possibly inventing because it was late last night/this morning). am i angry enough? i am angry plenty. could i do more? i honestly don't think so. these are questions all of us must answer. we must be angry enough and we must do all we can. and if we are, and do, then we must read books like this and say, "i am scared but i'm doing all i can and it will have to do." then, we must get a good night's sleep because there is work to do and we need all the rest we can get.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    3.5 stars Millet is obviously a strong writer. The messages here are ones that are prominent these days - the irresponsible adults ruining the environment and the future of the world for the younger generations. The book is vague on the details, but climate change leads to a cataclysmic storm that the characters survive, but somehow very quickly disrupts society. A lot of the narrative from there on out follows a Hollywood movie-type arc of societal breakdown and a battle for survival. The eleme 3.5 stars Millet is obviously a strong writer. The messages here are ones that are prominent these days - the irresponsible adults ruining the environment and the future of the world for the younger generations. The book is vague on the details, but climate change leads to a cataclysmic storm that the characters survive, but somehow very quickly disrupts society. A lot of the narrative from there on out follows a Hollywood movie-type arc of societal breakdown and a battle for survival. The elements of the Biblical story also direct the narrative, but only somewhat loosely.

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