"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."
New York Times Book Review
"[A] story that explores how alarming and baffling it feels to endure the destruction of one’s world."
Ron Charles - Washington Post
"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."
Jonathan Dee - New York Times Book Review
"Darkly funny and painfully sharp."
Carolyn Kellogg - Los Angeles Times
"A dystopian novel of great power."
Adam Begley - Sunday Times
"[Lydia] Millet mordantly captures the complacency of older generations in the face of apocalypse, and the righteous anger, endurance, and practicality of the young."
"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."
Emily Bobrow - Wall Street Journal
"Lydia Millet has given us a compellingly written, compact, slyly funny novel that warns of the catastrophic events that may overwhelm us. Unless."
Jeffrey Ann Goudie - Boston Globe
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 gracefullyas the title impliestackles the divine."
Rumaan Alam - New Republic
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. (May)
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.
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
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.