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Perfect Little World: A Novel by Kevin…

Perfect Little World: A Novel (edition 2017)

by Kevin Wilson (Author)

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1174103,116 (3.77)1
Title:Perfect Little World: A Novel
Authors:Kevin Wilson (Author)
Info:Ecco (2017), Edition: 1st, 352 pages
Tags:family, unconventional families, contemporary fiction, research project, commune

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Perfect Little World: A Novel by Kevin Wilson



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I haven't read Kevin Wilson's book, The Family Fang but I will definitely put it on my list to read. This book is about parenting together as a group. You have 9 couples and 1 young single mother and newborn babies coming to live together in a beautiful experimental compound overseen by Dr. Preston Grind. His own childhood was also an experiment by his parents which complicates this whole mix. With everything money can buy, provided by an elderly widow, who was raised in an orphanage, this eclectic group takes part in raising all the children as their own for 5 years before each child finds out which parents are theirs. What could possibly go wrong here... ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Apr 12, 2017 |
On Monday I wrote about Swimming Lessons, a novel with prose that evinced an emotional response from me, even when the story did not work so well. Today’s review is about a book that is almost the complete opposite. It’s unusual for me to like fiction that didn’t impact me emotionally, but I did with Kevin Wilson’s new novel, Perfect Little World. I was devoid of a reaction beyond intellectual curiosity about the premise—and that was enough.

Dr. Preston Grind is a child psychologist and the son of two child psychologists who used him as their only test subject in their largest experiment. They were determined to devise the antidote to what we know as helicopter/special snowflake parenting. Instead, Preston was exposed, from a very young age, to a childhood of instability and difficulty. The love his parents had for him was never in question nor was he abused, but they exposed him to situations that most parents would avoid. The premise was to mimic the adult world of conflict and disappointment, thereby preparing him for it better than children who have been coddled and sheltered from any adversity. Their method would seem to be sound except that now, as an adult, Grind writes about a kind of parenting his parents would have abhorred. The ‘it takes a village’ model.

When Grind meets Brenda Acklen, the billionaire widow of the founder of a chain of cheap big box stores, he’s able to bring his plans for a community model of parenting to life. Brenda wants to fund the project because she and her husband were raised in an orphanage and she believes that the love and care of the group environment was the best upbringing possible. A self-contained compound is built on 450 acres near La Vergne, TN with housing for ten families—all about to become first time parents and all with some particular issue that would make raising a child without help difficult. Grinds has nine couples, but instead of the tenth he chooses, Izzy, a high school graduate who’s discovered she’s pregnant with her art teacher’s child.

If you’re thinking this sounds like a novel about a free love commune or some weird sci-fi setup, it’s not. The only way in which Wilson takes the easy way out in Perfect Little World is with money. Brenda Acklen’s money—which is unlimited and unconditional, meaning that the world Grind creates is utopian in its efforts to care for its subjects. Everything is new and state-of-the-art, there is a fulltime staff of doctors, teachers, psychologists, nurses…anyone who might be needed to interact with the children and their parents. The twist is that the children will be raised by all of the parents. From the time they are born each one is held, cared for, loved, scolded, taught by every adult. Only when they reach the age of five do they learn who their biological parents are. The experiment will then continue until they are ten.

Of course, utopia doesn’t make for interesting reading. Nineteen adults, ten children, psychology and human emotion do and Wilson uses each to great effect. As I mentioned at the beginning, I didn’t finish Perfect Little World feeling a lot, but I was still thinking about the book days later. Everything about it is intriguing, mostly because of Wilson’s thoughtful, humanist approach. There is nothing gimmicky in the plot, just an unusual fictional idea for a non-fictional issue—how best to raise children in the modern world. This is not to say that the novel is a treatise or reads like a textbook. No. Perfect Little World is entertaining and enjoyable fiction; a novel I’d recommend for a book clubs because it will lend itself to a lot of discussion and opinions. ( )
  cathgilmore | Mar 10, 2017 |
A special thank you to Edelweiss and Ecco for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I want to preface this review with my love of The Family Fang which I found riveting and a complete page-turner. This book however, fell well under that bar. I wasn't hooked immediately, the prologue had me scratching my head and not wanting to continue, but once I started in on Chapter 1, I found the hook. Meet Izzy, a recent high school graduate who is pregnant with her art teacher's baby. Her support system is lacking—a dead mother, drunk father, and unstable father-to-be/boyfriend—so when Izzy is presented with an opportunity to participate in the Infinite Family Project, she jumps at it having no other resources. Izzy will join nine other couples and live on a compound in rural Tennessee where they will all raise their children as one family. The project is headed by Dr. Preston Grind who believes that the more love a child will receive, the better off they will be.

Sounds great, right? Well...not so much for me, I don't particularly care for utopian-style books, and I'm not sure why. Is it their formulaic nature, or that utopias don't actually exist? Because there will be a giant conflict/problem to overcome? Is it the predictable "survival of the fittest"? I'm not sure, but pushing this aside, the book was filled with some great parts and excellent writing. Without giving too much away, things start to crumble at the compound (gasp!) with relationships disintegrating, funding running out, and Izzy's growing feelings for Dr. Grind. The worst part for me was the ending and how Wilson tied everything up, a little too neatly and by that point, it had just fizzled out.

Wilson's novel is a look at the family unit, the roles we play to create these units, and love. I would recommend reading this before The Family Fang so you are not too disappointed. ( )
  GirlWellRead | Feb 25, 2017 |
3.5 In this book, Kevin Wilson tackles another take on the family. Communal parenting, nine couples and one single young girl, Izzy, who has just graduated from high school and finds herself alone and pregnant. Enter Dr. Preston Grind, a man with an unusual upbringing himself, along with a woman raised in an orphanage, now with plenty of money to spend. So am experiment, raising children in an unusual setting, all taking part parenting their own and each others children. Sounds ideal, but families are complicated and messy, even families just put together,

Had a hard time rating this one, I enjoyed it, the writing was good, the story flowed well. Izzy is a wonderful character and Dr. Grind a most interesting one. The concept is unusual, and interesting. Families we make, or families we put together, and how do the children fare in this type of situation? Loved most of it, but the ending was semi predictable, and a bit too dramatic, at least I found it so.
Definitely worth reading if you are looking for something both likable and different. ( )
  Beamis12 | Feb 1, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062450328, Hardcover)

When Isabelle Poole meets Dr. Preston Grind, she's just about out of options. She recently graduated from high school and is pregnant with her art teacher's baby. Her mother is dead and her father is a drunk. The art teacher is too much of a head-case to help raise the child. Izzy knows she can be a good mother but without any money or prospects, she's left searching.

So when Dr. Grind offers her a space in The Infinite Family Project, she accepts. Housed in a spacious compound in Tennessee, she joins nine other couples, all with children the same age as her newborn son, to raise their children as one extended family. Grind's theory is that the more parental love a child receives, the better off they are.

This attempt at a utopian ideal-funded by an eccentric billionaire-starts off promising: Izzy enjoys the kids, reading to them and teaching them to cook. She even forms a bond with her son more meaningful than she ever expected. But soon the gentle equilibrium among the families is upset and it all starts to disintegrate: unspoken resentments between the couples begin to fester; the project's funding becomes tenuous; and Izzy's feelings for Dr. Grind, who is looking to expunge his own painful childhood, make her question her participation in this strange experiment in the first place.

Written with the same compassionate voice, disarming sense of humor, and quirky charm that made The Family Fang such a success, PERFECT LITTLE WORLD is a poignant look at how the best families are the ones we make for ourselves.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 01 Aug 2016 13:52:55 -0400)

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