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Author Topic: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen  (Read 5914 times)

SilverCrown

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Since it sounds like most, if not all, interested members have finished reading the book I thought I'd start a topic for discussion of our first book.

Anyone is invited to kick off the discussion and if using the questions found by ILuvLucy would be helpful then I invite you to start there. The main thing is just to start! :)
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makinalist

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2012, 12:25:24 AM »
I would like to start with the effect of having Judith narrate the story.  (For anyone who has not read the book yet, J. is a ten-year-old girl.)  I was enchanted with the way J. sees the world around her.  She so desperately wants to understand life in general and the people she knows, but she has little help with doing that.  Her misunderstandings are painful to see.

Of course, the second most important character is her father.  Their relationship is the key to the whole story, I think.  And I loved Mrs. Pierce -- the teacher who makes a difference in a child's life.
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ILuvLucy

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2012, 07:43:59 AM »
Prefacing my comments by reminding everyone that's it's been awhile since I've read the book, so please bear with me!  :wink:

Thinking about it now, I can't imagine the story being told through the eyes of one of the other characters.  Judith's innocence is key, and allows us to wonder if everything that's going on is her childlike imagination or not.  Also brings to mind Matthew 18:3-4 "And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven". 

If the story was narrated by one of the adults in the book instead of Judith, it would've been completely different.  Not quite as "touching" too.  If an adult was "hearing voices", I'd still wonder if they were crazy, or really hearing a message from God.
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SusieQ

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2012, 10:03:35 AM »
I agree that the impact of the story would not be so apparent if an adult was narrating the story. And, perhaps, there are lessons to learn that religions should not be pushed upon our children at the early stage but rather allow them to experience it in small quantities. As parents, we want to be able to watch our children every moment to make sure that the harsh reality does not taint them at this age but of course, that is will never be the case.   J’s life at home has made her social life a living hell and I think it’s one of the reasons she’s created the Land of Decoration. It’s her way to escaping the social life she cannot control. 

The Land of Decoration she can control. She creates life the way she sees thru the daily readings and preaching and yet, her reality is a far cry from her what she hears from her church and the Bible.
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makinalist

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2012, 10:48:42 AM »
 :clap: Oh, bravo!  We agree on everything so far!  Absolutely - the story could only be told by Judith herself.

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Styyna

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2012, 12:49:52 PM »
I agree with Judith being the narrator. On the other hand, drawing from one of the questions. . .

"What was it like to read the observations of a ten-year-old girl like Judith?"

Judith is so precocious that I had a hard time at first "buying in" to her story. It was her innocence that won me over finally.
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makinalist

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2012, 08:20:12 PM »
I also think that Judith would have found something else to escape into if her religious faith had not been such a big part of her life.  With her intelligence and imagination, she was able to get away from her lonely life, and she would have done that one way or another.

Anybody think she needs/needed psychiatric help?
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SusieQ

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2012, 08:42:40 PM »
I agree with Judith being the narrator. On the other hand, drawing from one of the questions. . .

"What was it like to read the observations of a ten-year-old girl like Judith?"

Judith is so precocious that I had a hard time at first "buying in" to her story. It was her innocence that won me over finally.
I didn't know what the premise of the story when I decided to read so I didn't have a hard time buying in because I didn't know what to expect.  I mean, at I thought it would be just about a little girl and her make believe world.

But, yes, Listy. I do believe that she could use some help in that department...specially, when "god" made an appearance.  What was your first thought when He was mentioned? What about the first miracle?  If you want to start there first.  I know it was about Neil, I meal all of them are about Neil.  I'm tryring to remember how she came up with that miracle.
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makinalist

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2012, 10:24:50 PM »
She was desperate not to go to school on Monday, because Neil had threatened to stick her head in the toilet.  She thought she might die, if she couldn't hold her breath long enough.  Remember?  Then she came up with the idea of snow.

I didn't know what to think when she first heard God speak to her.  I didn't know if the author meant for us to believe it or not, but soon I knew that she was inventing it herself.  The voice sounds like what a child might think God would say.
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SusieQ

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2012, 10:51:49 PM »
Ok -  I remember the toilet thing and Monday but I had forgotten that she came up with the snow.  When the voice started talking back, I thought, oh goodness, the devil! says the Catholic girl. Of course, my opinion changed as the "voice" continue to speak to her.  Then, Mrs. Pierce, I thought that she was an Angel and knew about the voice. My mind was going everywhere! :lol:
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makinalist

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2012, 11:51:19 PM »
Why did some of you say that you didn't know what you thought about this book?  I have had it simmering in the back of my mind ever since I finished it, turning it over and over to examine my thoughts on it.  I have decided it is a brilliant debut novel, because I bought into Judith's world completely while I was reading it.  That scene towards the end when she shows us how far she is willing to go to save her father?  I could barely breathe for the tension I felt.

The fact that J. so desperately needs a mother made me want to reach in there and take care of her.  Anyway, that is my main criterion for a good book.  It must stay with me for a while after I finish reading it.
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Styyna

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2012, 02:03:45 PM »
Just a short note to let everyone know that I'm not finished with this discussion. But I have lots of guests arriving tomorrow for the weekend and I'm in a frenzy of preparation. I'll be back to this topic after they leave on Monday.
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makinalist

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2012, 02:30:15 PM »
I was thinking the same thing.  I imagine most of us have things going on this weekend, judging from the deafening silence around here! :grin:  We'll get back to this after the holiday.
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SusieQ

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2012, 08:28:49 PM »
Ditto!  :grin:
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Styyna

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Re: Book Club Discussion - "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2012, 09:49:05 AM »
Returning to this topic even though it seems most of us are out enjoying the early days of summer. . .

I think that the author was very effective at weaving together faith and imagination into a very telling tale of a young motherless girl who felt all alone. Her father, still grieving for her mother, was quite remote, she and her father were shunned when they went out to spread the Word, and even at school she was on the bad side of a school bully. She was remarkably outspoken at times - I thought it must have taken a lot of courage to continue to seek the address of the visiting Brother who gave her the mustard seeds.

I have a few questions:

1. Judith was precocious. Was her faith or her remarkable imagination stronger? Does it matter?

2. What was the meaning of the mustard seeds not growing? I don't understand that part of the story at all.

3. Throughout most of the book, did she know deep down that her father loved her?
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