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A Children's Bible
Cover of A Children's Bible
A Children's Bible
A Novel
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Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction
One of the New York Times' Ten Best Books of the Year
Named one of the best novels of the year by Time, Washington Post, NPR, Chicago Tribune, Esquire, BBC, and many others
National Bestseller

"A blistering little classic." —Ron Charles, Washington Post

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.

Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction
One of the New York Times' Ten Best Books of the Year
Named one of the best novels of the year by Time, Washington Post, NPR, Chicago Tribune, Esquire, BBC, and many others
National Bestseller

"A blistering little classic." —Ron Charles, Washington Post

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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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Lydia Millet has won awards from PEN Center USA and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and her books have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 20, 2020
    Millet follows up Sweet Lamb of Heaven with a lean, ironic allegory of climate change and biblical comeuppance. A group of friends, successful “artsy and educated types,” plan an “offensively long reunion” at a summer house “built by robber barons in the 19th century,” somewhere on the East Coast. They bring along their children, ranging in age from prepubescent to 17, who devise inventive ways to ignore them. With the young teenage narrator, Evie, Millet perfectly captures the blend of indifference and scorn with which the teenagers view their boozy parents, emblematic of humanity’s dithering in the face of environmental catastrophe: “They didn’t do well with long-term warnings. Even medium-term.” After a massive storm interrupts the summer idyll and brings looting and riots to New York and Boston, the parents lose themselves to booze and cocaine and the children flee with a menagerie of rescued animals, seeking refuge at a farmhouse. This lurid section, in which they are besieged by armed raiders searching for food, is shaky, and allusions to biblical tales such as Noah’s Ark and the Ten Commandments feel facile, but the novel regains its footing once parents and children reunite, with the children calling the shots. Millet’s look at intergenerational strife falls short of her best work.

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2020
    A group of children are forced to fend for themselves in the face of rising sea levels, worsening storms, and willfully ignorant parents. This somber novel by Millet (Fight No More, 2018, etc.) is a Lord of the Flies-style tale with a climate-fiction twist. Evie, the narrator, is one of a group of kids and teenagers spending a summer with their parents at a lakeside rental mansion that's pitched as a vacation retreat but increasingly feels like a bulwark against increasingly intense weather on the coasts. The parents' chief activity involves stockpiling alcohol, leaving their children to explore the area. When a massive storm hits, the parents double down on self-medicating ("during the night the older generation had dosed itself with Ecstasy") while the kids explore further, ultimately arriving at a farm that's well stocked, at least for a while. The novel takes some time to find its footing, introducing a host of characters who are initially difficult to differentiate, but it ultimately settles on Evie and her rising fury at the grown-ups' incapacity to rise to a challenge and her younger brother, Jack, who's become increasingly obsessed with a Bible he's received and whether it can serve as a climate change survival handbook. (At one point he attempts to gather up animals, Noah-like.) Millet's allegorical messages are simple: The next generation will have to clean up (or endure) the climate mess prior ones created, and any notion that we can simply spend our way to higher ground is a delusion. Millet presses that last point in the novel's latter pages as the brief peace of the farm is disrupted in often horrific fashion. In the process, Jack's Bible plays an allegorical role too: Can we maintain civilization as we know it when the world descends into Old Testament-style chaos? A bleak and righteously angry tale determined to challenge our rationalizations about climate change.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2020
    When a group of families rent a robber-baron mansion by a lake for the summer, the teens, including Eve, Millet's (Fight No More, 2018) preternaturally compassionate and responsible narrator, separate themselves from their parents, caricatures of selfishness pursuing inebriation and other indulgences as the latest enactments of their failure to face facts about the imperiled world they've helped create. Eve is a steadfast guardian for her sweet, smart, animal-loving little brother, Jack, the moral compass in this increasingly horrifying climate-change fable as raging storms batter the old house and flood waters rise. With the scenarios in a children's bible surging to life, Jack believes he has broken the code: God equals nature; Jesus equals science. The young people, the true adults, shelter on a farm on higher ground, but their parents need their help, then vicious men with guns on the hunt for food invade. As bewitching, unflinching, wry, and profoundly attuned to the state of the planet as ever, supremely gifted Millet tells a commanding and wrenching tale of cataclysmic change and what it will take to survive.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from May 1, 2020

    Millet's follow-up to her award-winning Sweet Lamb of Heaven is a disturbing tale of a summer vacation gone wrong. Self-indulgent parents gather for a college reunion with their combined group of 12 children at a sprawling lakeside mansion. After locking up all cell phones for absolute relaxation, they show complete indifference as they disintegrate into drugs, alcohol, and sex. Teenage narrator Evie leads the loosely organized group of teens and preteens, reveling in their new freedom, but excitement turns to panic after a cataclysmic thunderstorm causes severe flooding and a power outage. Evie protects the younger ones, including her brother Jack, an innocent nature lover hauling around his collection of animals and plants. Obsessed with stories in his illustrated children's Bible, Jack, like Noah, must rescue his animals from this flood. Joined by Burl, the estate gardener, the children gather their slim resources, including salvaged cell phones, and take off in fishing boats for higher ground. Burl directs them to a farm that proves only a temporary salvation. The children prove resourceful but pay a huge price. VERDICT Millet delivers a tense, prophetic tale about inattention to warning signs with allusions to biblical tales and embedded themes of environmental and climactic disasters. A gripping page-turner with an end-times quality. [See Prepub Alert, 11/4/20.]--Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Molly Young;New York [A] prime example of that rare and precious thing: a funny dystopia.
  • The New Yorker [Lydia] Millet mordantly captures the complacency of older generations in the face of apocalypse, and the righteous anger, endurance, and practicality of the young.
  • Jonathan Dee;New York Times Book Review With brilliant restraint, Millet conceives her own low-key 'bible.'...It's a tale in which whoever or whatever comes after us might recognize, however imperfectly, a certain continuity: an exotic but still decodable shred of evidence from the lost world that is the world we are living in right now.
  • Emily Bobrow;Wall Street Journal With this slim yet potent book, [Millet] shows it is even possible to coax pleasure and beauty from the uncomfortable work of highlighting unfortunate truths.
  • Jeffrey Ann Goudie;Boston Globe Lydia Millet has given us a compellingly written, compact, slyly funny novel that warns of the catastrophic events that may overwhelm us. Unless.
  • Carolyn Kellogg;Los Angeles Times Darkly funny and painfully sharp.
  • Rumaan Alam;New Republic A Children's Bible is a...book that's easy to enter fully (and not quite as easy to exit; you might have bad dreams)...Millet's writing is spare but textured. There's genuine feeling here, and humor, too...I loved the imagination of this book, the way it gracefully—as the title implies—tackles the divine.
  • New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice This superb novel begins as a generational comedy...and turns steadily darker...[I]n this time of great upheaval, [Lydia Millet] implies, our foundational myths take on new meaning and hope.
  • Ron Charles;Washington Post [A] story that explores how alarming and baffling it feels to endure the destruction of one's world.
  • Adam Begley;Sunday Times A dystopian novel of great power.
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