A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

I did not love this book. And at times, I didn’t even like it. But other reviewers think otherwise–the accolades are everywhere, so here’s a review from the Washington Post since my own ideas are far less enthusiastic. Many reviewers refer to this novel as climate fiction in the same vein as The Overstory or Shusterman’s Dry (both of which I loved). And that makes sense because it is about climate—about a terrible multi-day storm that’s clearly a product of our warming climate and the weather swings that come with it. But really it’s about two generations of people—the kids, from whose point of view the book is narrated, and their parents—heavy drinking wealthy and soulless nothings who care little about raising kids or responsibility or protecting our natural resources. And then there’s the children’s bible that Jack carries around in which the stories mimic what’s happening during the storm: the animals corralled by the little boys in order to save them, the baby born in a stable, the flood, the three angels, Eve (the narrator, Evie). And finally, there’s the apocalyptic ending. Together, it felt like too much, like Millet wanted to do too many different things in this very small book (only 200 ish pages) that’s part adventure story, part biblical allegory, part dystopian climate fiction.

That said, there are some things I liked. I like the narrator, teenage Evie who is sweet and smart and protective of her younger brother, Jack, the one who carries the bible given to him and interprets God as nature (God is everywhere) and Jesus as science (Jesus heals and offers answers to our questions–we just need to believe in it/him). I liked Jack’s friend, Shel, who’s deaf but understands more than most who can hear. Other than those three, I couldn’t keep track of the rest of the characters—they all kind of ran together in my head. Oh, and I like the cover. Beautiful colors and image. That’s probably why I bought this book instead of borrowing. But now I’ll donate it.

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