They are the children of the elite, on holidays with their parents in a huge mansion. And yet the children become bored, day in, day out, watching their parents get drunk, and lounge around. Each parent embarrassing their child. The parents neglect to even acknowledge their children, so the children decide to strike out on their own leaving their languorous mothers and fathers behind to themselves.
While reading this I could not help but be constantly reminded of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. Although the children decide to enter their isolation voluntarily, they are still left to fend for themselves, and when things start to take a turn for the worse, they must fight for survival.
Millet throws the works at the children. A destructive hurricane, induced, of course, from global warming and our increasing battle with the climate catastrophes that we have brought upon our world. Suspicions of a virus, a pandemic that is sweeping closer. Armed militia rednecks, who only enforce, and add to the suspicion, that something has gone wrong out there in the world.
Millet also creates the feeling that the children are ultimately the ones in control, and not the parents. In the aftermath of the hurricane, the parents seem paralyzed to act, they choose to get even more drunk and stoned. Is this a jibe, an accusing finger, that it will be left up to today’s generation and the following, to repair the damage that we have done to the world’s fragile state.
The parents have relieved the children of their phones, and their access to the net, that vital tether for many of them, is severed. This forces them to search for entertainment in other ways. Nature steps in for the place of technology. They play in the trees, the water, they make a game in which each of them must guess the other’s parents. I feel that this is Millet again giving us a message. Social media, the internet, needs to be controlled, moderated. We need to get back in touch with nature.
Evie is the narrator of the story, and it is her little brother, Jack, who ties this narrative to the title. Jack has with him a children’s bible. He is very inquisitive and curious, not just content to read it, he wants to find meaning and answers, and eventually believes he has found the answer to the Holy Trinity and God.
For me this is a novel full of allegory, and personally I love these types of novels. 4 Stars.
Lydia Millet is an American novelist. Her most recent novel, A Children's Bible, was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction and named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. She has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
A Children's Bible is shortlisted for the 2021 Tournament of Books.
There is a link here to The Writing Cooperative with an interview with Lydia Millet talking about A Children's Bible - https://writingcooperative.com/lydia-millet-a-childrens-bible-df285ae4ada6