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The Land of Decoration 

By Grace McCleen (HarperCollins)

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“Faith is like imagination. It sees something where there is nothing.” Grace McCleen is an exquisite new author who comes from a fundamentalist religious background. This, combined with an English degree from Oxford, a keen eye for the childhood experience and a mastery of description---turning trash into one little girl’s paper-and-glue paradise---makes The Land of Decoration an unrivaled debut. In this highly unordinary novel, a 10-year-old girl narrates her coming-of-age amidst bullying, family tragedy, war and her father’s loss of faith. When the actions within her imaginary world become mimicked in the real one, she believes she is God’s Instrument: she can create miracles. But playing god, she soon discovers, is as much darkness as it is light. As a secular reader, I was hesitant to read this book. But I found McCleen’s narrative on faith, imagination, love, grief and that primitively painful experience of entering the adult world to be faultless. She made me believe.

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