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Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel—her first since the National Book Award long-listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven—follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and s Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel—her first since the National Book Award long-listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven—follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and suffocated at the same time. When a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, the group’s ringleaders—including Eve, who narrates the story—decide to run away, leading the younger ones on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. As the scenes of devastation begin to mimic events in the dog-eared picture Bible carried around by her beloved little brother, Eve devotes herself to keeping him safe from harm. A Children’s Bible is a prophetic, heartbreaking story of generational divide—and a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.


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Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel—her first since the National Book Award long-listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven—follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and s Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel—her first since the National Book Award long-listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven—follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and suffocated at the same time. When a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, the group’s ringleaders—including Eve, who narrates the story—decide to run away, leading the younger ones on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. As the scenes of devastation begin to mimic events in the dog-eared picture Bible carried around by her beloved little brother, Eve devotes herself to keeping him safe from harm. A Children’s Bible is a prophetic, heartbreaking story of generational divide—and a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.

30 review for A Children's Bible

  1. 5 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. 5 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. 5 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. 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.

  5. 4 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

  6. 4 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. 4 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.

  9. 4 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.

  10. 4 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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. The story, narrated by the sharp-eyed, cynical Eve, 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. The story, narrated by the sharp-eyed, cynical Eve, 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.

  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. 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    3.5 Stars: “A Children’s Bible” by Lydia Millet is at heart a climate change cautionary tale with a “Lord of the Rings” spirit. The children in this story hold their parents primarily responsible for all the environmental ills, accusing them of hedonism and ignorance. This is almost a dystopian tale of the future with climate change accounting for the destruction of the earth. The story isn’t all bleak. Our narrator is Evie, a teen on a summer vacation at “the big house” with multiple families. T 3.5 Stars: “A Children’s Bible” by Lydia Millet is at heart a climate change cautionary tale with a “Lord of the Rings” spirit. The children in this story hold their parents primarily responsible for all the environmental ills, accusing them of hedonism and ignorance. This is almost a dystopian tale of the future with climate change accounting for the destruction of the earth. The story isn’t all bleak. Our narrator is Evie, a teen on a summer vacation at “the big house” with multiple families. The children, teens and younger, decide that they will rule themselves. The parents are hedonistic, drinking “the hair of the dog” and continuing to drink through the day and night. There are drugs involved and a bit of “spouse swapping”. Through Evie’s eyes, Millet uses subtle humor. The children are disgusted by their parent’s behavior and begin their own society, beginning with their self-imposed exile to the top floor of the big house to bunk. The parents are not allowed there. To add to the fun, the children decided that they will keep their parentage to themselves. No child claims a parent. It’s a game. The last child whose parentage remains a mystery wins. Evie’s young brother, Jack, finds a children’s bible that is full of stories. Jack finds that some of the stories from the bible are happening now. Jack sees old testament chaos in the current world. I chuckled through the first half of the novel, and then the story turned to the dark side. Millet’s characterization of the parents is sad, but she’s using it as an allegory to the next generations needing to fix the hubris of the older generation. I found the story mesmerizing. I loved the children’s society, even if it was a bit overblown, which is the same as the overblown self-indulged parents. I recommend this as an interesting read; the story might awaken some of us older generation who love our A/C and drive everywhere instead of walking.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Proustitute (on review 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

  18. 4 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.

  19. 5 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 5 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gianna Lorandi

    3.5 Stars. Interesting novel about a too-cool-for-school bunch of teenagers going on a summer holiday with their parents. The parent's only interests were drugs and alcohol, leaving the kids to fend for themselves which they were quite happy with. Kind of a dystopian and sarcastic atmosphere mixed with a strong climate change message, I found this book quite unique in a way. Still in two minds about whether I liked or not but certainly a refreshing read. Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy. 3.5 Stars. Interesting novel about a too-cool-for-school bunch of teenagers going on a summer holiday with their parents. The parent's only interests were drugs and alcohol, leaving the kids to fend for themselves which they were quite happy with. Kind of a dystopian and sarcastic atmosphere mixed with a strong climate change message, I found this book quite unique in a way. Still in two minds about whether I liked or not but certainly a refreshing read. Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Mind-numbingly dull.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I am so disappointed. I want to begin by saying that I really enjoyed the first half of this book. I thought it was going somewhere meaningful and terrifying. It relied heavily on imagery and foreshadowing and I was excited to see it all explode. It was like one of those dud fireworks that just fizzles out. This was not the horrific survivalist story I had hoped for at all and I didn’t feel the message was well-conveyed. I will acknowledge that the synopsis created certain expectations that the st I am so disappointed. I want to begin by saying that I really enjoyed the first half of this book. I thought it was going somewhere meaningful and terrifying. It relied heavily on imagery and foreshadowing and I was excited to see it all explode. It was like one of those dud fireworks that just fizzles out. This was not the horrific survivalist story I had hoped for at all and I didn’t feel the message was well-conveyed. I will acknowledge that the synopsis created certain expectations that the story did not deliver on but I was willing to shift my perspective. I was genuinely into the story for a while. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and sad. The narrative began with such promise. In the end, it all fell flat. I’m very sad. That is all.

  25. 5 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. 

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Banks

    2020 National Book Award shortlist A Children's Bible is a fascinating take on apocalyptic, dystopian climate-change themes. It's well structured (although gets off to a slow start), sharply written and very clever. However, while I admire it and can see the literary craft on display, it didn't quite work for me. I found it difficult to identify with the characters, it felt like a gap or gulf between me and many of the central characters, but I think that strange kind of distancing is part of the 2020 National Book Award shortlist A Children's Bible is a fascinating take on apocalyptic, dystopian climate-change themes. It's well structured (although gets off to a slow start), sharply written and very clever. However, while I admire it and can see the literary craft on display, it didn't quite work for me. I found it difficult to identify with the characters, it felt like a gap or gulf between me and many of the central characters, but I think that strange kind of distancing is part of the point and key to the themes. This may be one of those books that to fully appreciate its qualities I need to spend some time thinking further. But it definitely has had an impact on me. Far better than this year's Booker shortlisted and atrociously banal The New Wilderness. The novel starts with a group of families (parents and children, both teens and preteens) coming together for a reunion at a holiday house. The kids very much separate themselves from the parents and if anything treat them with ironic disdain. The parents are drowning and numbing themselves in an excess of alcohol, drugs, sex and a wilfully nostalgic blindness as the world is ending around them due to climate change. The central character, Evie, a teen girl, provides a fascinating perspective on the events, including her care for her young brother. We have here a thoughtful and incisive take on intergenerational tensions unfolding around climate change. "They liked to drink: it was their hobby, or—said one of us—maybe a form of worship. They drank wine and beer and whiskey and gin. Also tequila, rum, and vodka. At midday they called it the hair of the dog. It seemed to keep them contented. Or going, at least. In the evenings they assembled to eat food and drink more. Dinner was the only meal we had to attend, and even that we resented. They sat us down and talked about nothing. They aimed their conversation like a dull gray beam. It hit us and lulled us into a stupor. What they said was so boring it filled us with frustration, and after more minutes, rage. Didn’t they know there were urgent subjects? Questions that needed to be asked?" A storm sweeps in that's biblical in scale. There are many biblical images, allusions and metaphors throughout (Noah's Arc, the flood, Eve of course, the garden, angels, crucifixion, judgment and end times, etc.) that are mixed with science references to generate fascinating but subtle echoes and tensions across the book. It's allegorical but not at all heavy handed. A Children's Bible has a fabular and surreal texture as things really start falling apart in the wake of the storm with the children leaving the holiday house and heading into apocalypic territory, both literally and figuratively. There's a lot of symolism threaded through as well as intriguing references to other works such as Lord of the Flies, but the novel is also grounded by quite touching moments, especially the relationships among the children. It's all very clever and taps into societal anxieties about climate change. Indeed, the very distance I felt from the characters itself induces a kind of anxiety as these characters are for the most part children and young teens. The book really is about the existential crisis that looms over us, and narrated through the perspective of the kids (Evie's "I" almost becomes a collective free indirect generational discourse) and their cynical even at moments horrifying humour directed at the failing and inept parents, gives this a powerfully disquieting edge. Evie at times is just brutally sardonic and very funny, while penetratingly thoughtful. "As though, if you held the parents up to the light - if you could lift them easily, like paper - you'd be able to see right through tem. Unlike before, it wasn't an attitude we could change. It wasn't attitude at all. It was a mode of existence." The "We" here is that generational collective voice that I mentioned earlier. My sense at the end of this book was one of unsettled disquiet as that storm is definitely coming our way ....... Highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis

    I know this book is getting some award attention, but it just didn't do much for me (and reasonable minds may well differ). I could not ever get a grip on what the novel was trying to do. At the most general level, the story is about a group of children ranging in age from around 7-ish to 17-ish. Their parents were college buddies, who after about 20 years get together again for the first time for a group summer vacation at a rental property. The kids segregate entirely from the adults, and the s I know this book is getting some award attention, but it just didn't do much for me (and reasonable minds may well differ). I could not ever get a grip on what the novel was trying to do. At the most general level, the story is about a group of children ranging in age from around 7-ish to 17-ish. Their parents were college buddies, who after about 20 years get together again for the first time for a group summer vacation at a rental property. The kids segregate entirely from the adults, and the story is told by one of the older girls. Things almost immediately began to fall apart for me. The adult characters, to the extent they exist at all, are almost completely flat and not the least bit realistic (I suspect this was an intentional decision of the author, but it didn't work for me). If this book were humorous, the adults would be much like those in the Peanuts cartoons, saying nothing more than "waah wah wa wah waah," except while drunk, stoned, or whining. But I don't think this book is trying to be humorous, or even satirical. It steadily walks toward darker & more menacing scenes, and to me it became more & more unrealistic, which might be fine except it didn't feel like it was intended to be wholly unrealistic. Meanwhile, the children are mostly fully fleshed out, but again in ways that did not ring true to me. Strung across it all are what seem to be intended as environmentally-caused extreme weather events, for which adults are responsible in their failures to act and which children reap the effects of; and that didn't hold together for me as written either. The sentences are well-written and easy to read, so it moves nicely from page to page. And there is definitely a plot that progresses from a beginning, through a middle, to an end; it does so in three separate locations that fairly well demarcate those plot progressions. At some large metaphorical level, I think I get the intended story, but this isn't a book I'll be revisiting or telling others to read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    If I was feeling generous this might scrape 2 stars... not for me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    A suspenseful and urgent story about the burdens and realities of climate change through the eyes of a group of children and teenagers. A modern classic that I urge everyone to read. One could read A Children's Bible as a dystopian novel. The world is falling apart, storms displace families, gas stations and stores close and are eventually looted... But the world of A Children's Bible is as uncertain as our own. The children are forced to find their own way as their parents shrug and imbibe drink A suspenseful and urgent story about the burdens and realities of climate change through the eyes of a group of children and teenagers. A modern classic that I urge everyone to read. One could read A Children's Bible as a dystopian novel. The world is falling apart, storms displace families, gas stations and stores close and are eventually looted... But the world of A Children's Bible is as uncertain as our own. The children are forced to find their own way as their parents shrug and imbibe drinks and experiment with drugs. It will easily invite comparisons to Lord of the Flies, except the kids are all on the same team. They are frustrated with the world they're inheriting from their rich and intellectual parents who chose ignorance over action. Eve, a young adult, serves as the protagonist. She loves her younger brother and protects him more than their own parents do. She wants him to understand why the world is falling apart. It would be dangerous to ignore it. Her brother is gifted a children's bible which he uses as a survival guide - but only after deconstructing it as a mystery with codes. To him, God equates to Nature and Jesus is Science. It's an interesting allegory that brought me back to Mother! - a film that also addressed climate change in a striking and compelling manner. Though grim, A Children's Bible is an emotional force that is propelled by its tragedies and dark humor. Lydia Millet has written a modern classic that poetically highlights the urgencies and frustrations of the people who are trying to make a difference, as well as the ones who are forced to. It's an impressive and beautiful accomplishment that is extremely relevant to our time. I received my copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley and W. W. Norton & Company!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Martha☀

    I have never read Millet's work before and I was beyond impressed with this fabulous little tale. She is a truly talented wordsmith who crafts immensely powerful images in so few words. Told from the viewpoint of a disillusioned 16 year old, Eve describes the torture of being on a lengthy summer vacation with about eight other families. While the parents drink and do drugs, the children play games of their own and philosophise about the crappy damaged Earth that the previous generations have left I have never read Millet's work before and I was beyond impressed with this fabulous little tale. She is a truly talented wordsmith who crafts immensely powerful images in so few words. Told from the viewpoint of a disillusioned 16 year old, Eve describes the torture of being on a lengthy summer vacation with about eight other families. While the parents drink and do drugs, the children play games of their own and philosophise about the crappy damaged Earth that the previous generations have left to them. With disdain, she mocks wealth, entitlement and escapism - all the things her parents value - and vows to live differently. During their holiday, a series of destructive events begin to occur, all of biblical proportion. She soon realises that the events match those of an old book her brother found - a children's version of the bible. Soon it is acting like a playbook for the summer - burning bushes, plagues of insects, angels and ressurection. It is not a religious tale. In fact I think there is a fair amount of mockery in place. Totally modern and highly entertaining.

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