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Perfect Little World

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  9,786 ratings  ·  1,244 reviews
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 wh
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  9,786 ratings  ·  1,244 reviews

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this is the first book i have read by kevin wilson, although i own both of his others. i wasn't immediately wowed by the synopsis, but from its first sentence (the first chapter 1 sentence, after the confusing-at-the-time prologue), i was hooked:

Three hours after she had graduated from high school, Izzy sat on a park bench next to her art teacher, Mr. Jackson, and told him that she was pregnant.

after that opener, i went on a page-folding frenzy: 9, 11, 15, 28, 43, etc, because his writing insta
Diane S ☔
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: lor
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 famili ...more
da AL
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful premise -- great questions brought up regarding love, bonding, families - interesting characters - but all at the beginning. By the end of the book, I was disappointed. Also, why so much reinforcing of 'older man + very young woman = good'? Audiobook reader Therese Plummer is magnificent. ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love how Kevin Wilson's mind works - I believe I have a literary crush on him. The pages of A Perfect Little World are filled with empathy and lightness - goodness with a tart edge. I was totally invested. ...more
Book of the Month
By Judge Maris Kreizman

At a time when dystopian novels are all the rage, what a delight to read a novel about striving for perfection, no matter how short the effort may fall. If I could choose one author to write about a flawed yet earnest attempt at utopia, Kevin Wilson would be at the top of my list. Even as he relishes the absurd details in his characters’ lives, he never mocks them, never treats them with anything less than compassion.

Perfect Little World is the s
It takes a village to raise a child.
But since these metaphorical villages are disappearing, raising a child has, arguably, become quite difficult.

I found the premise of this book quite interesting - children from different families being raised together, loved and cared for by all the adults, while also being provided with a multitude of environmental, educational and emotional advantages. Will all those advantages make for very happy, well -adjusted, very intelligent kids? Will the parents be h
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
I think the problem with this book is that it just isn't weird enough. It needed to get weird. The first third or so is a fine piece of contemporary fiction. I liked the characters, I liked how they interacted with each other and with themselves. I liked the world that was built that was both global (from Dr. Grind's perspective) and restrictively local (from Izzy's perspective). It was great.
And then the actual situation happened. The experiment began. And it really really tried to stay ground
Joshua Orf-Rodriguez
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
A perfect little premise with a cursory, yet at times enjoyable, execution. I was excited about this book, a crazy experiment where 10 children are raised by 19 adults in a communal-like home. The book's first pages outlines the complicated tree of adults and children. This should have been the first clue that this book would have to embrace brevity over depth, given that it is just over 300 pages.

The book starts out the first 150 pages following "Izzy" and sometimes Doctor Preston Grind who is
Great beginning and ending. Middle was slow and tedious in my opinion. Loved the themes in this book though.

My favorite quote:
“When the world fell apart around you, when the walls of your home cracked and crumbled, Izzy now had some idea how to keep living. You held on to the person you loved, the one who would be there in the aftermath, and you built a new home.” ❤️
Betsy Robinson
Apr 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
I found myself deeply drawn to this book, even though it was not what I expected after reading two other books by Kevin Wilson. It didn’t have the bite or dynamism of Nothing to See Here or his collection of short stories Tunneling to the Center of the Earth; it was cerebral, slow, and almost a psychological soap-opera at times. But what intrigued me was what drives it—and his other books—a curiosity to find out “how to do it” or if “it” can even be done, “it” being living a happy life in this A ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cricket by: Molly Rosen Marriner
This review comes in four parts.

Part One: Pacing

This is the shortest part. The pacing was bad. We're talking: take-half-the-book-to-set-up-the-premise bad. I'm assuming the author wanted to get us good and acquainted with the main character, Izzy, though, and that would be acceptable if it weren't for...

Part Two: Characterization

Who is Isabel Poole? No really; I still want to know. All the book gives me to work with is that she has no motivation to do anything. She's just "strong," as the narrat
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't decide between 3 and 4, but it's Kevin Wilson so based on creativity alone I'll round up. I found the "it takes a village utopian background" of this book intriguing and the complexity of the characters well written, but this novel lacks the audacity of The Family Fang, which is one of my all time favorites.

Once again Wilson is playing with the definition of family and the short and long-term effects of parenting choices, but it never quite grabbed me in the same way as the Fangs. For me
Sav Couey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin Glover
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
I picked up this book after loving Wilson’s later work, Nothing to See Here. Perfect Little World is just as good. Wilson is intrigued by the relationships between and among children and adults. His stories stress the importance of unconditional love between parents and kids and highlight the ugliness that occurs when that love is not present. In Perfect Little World, we see glimpses of what will be his future work through his fascination with fire as well as children.

Izzy is pregnant from her b
I loved his first novel and I think Kevin Wilson has done it again! This was such a fun and interesting read. This novel explores the meaning of family in a really interesting way by placing a group of people and their children into a communal parenting experiment. I found it fascinating to see how different people reacted to this planned ‘utopia’ and how the entire experiment was set up. I love how imaginative Wilson was in pulling this story together. The characters were really interesting and ...more
Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
Not bad, just not great, either. In fact, a little boring. I suspected what was going to happen at the end pretty early on in the book and it was no big shocker. Interesting concept, but no original spin on communal living. I kept waiting for something out of the ordinary to happen, but it didn't. ...more
Aj Sterkel
Nov 02, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Judging by the synopsis, this is a very “me” book. Utopian compounds, nontraditional families, strange experiments, eccentric billionaires. It sounds like this should be my favorite book ever.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like it. I think this is an example of a brilliant premise that’s executed poorly.

It didn’t start off bad. I actually flew through the first third of the book because the dysfunctional relationships intrigued me. The story hooked me right at the start:

“Three hours after she had gradu
4.5 stars.

I really, really enjoyed this book. The moment I was done with it, I slammed it shut with absolute satisfaction, leapt up from my chair with a clap, and loudly declared to my husband, "THAT WAS A GOOD BOOK!" So, that's probably a good sign.

Some reviews claim that Izzy is a flat character, but I disagree. What she lacks in warmth, she makes up for in careful consideration, thoughtful evaluation, and complexities for a person who clearly never fit in with her age group, and growing up
Kells Perry
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
To start off, I rank Kevin Wilson among the top 5 authors I love most and any book from him is a cause for celebration to me; on the other hand, when I take a book on its own merits, I have to say that Perfect Little World is not among my favorites.

It's not that the book is bad, insomuch, it's that the book is too short to accomplish what it sets out to do- which is give depth to the many characters that comprise it so the impact of the story is greater. I like Izzy and Dr. Grind, but I want mo
Aaron Burch
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love Kevin's writing, and was so excited both to hear about this new one, and then to finagle myself an ARC! What a fun read. Reminded me a tad of one of my other fave reads of the last year or two, J Ryan Stradal's Kitchens of the Great Midwest--not really in content, but in feeling a little weirder than at-first-glance seems, and also at interesting looks at character and family (and angles and lenses through with we look at them), and maybe most of all just in enjoyability of the read.

May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
I did not expect this book to win my heart as solidly as it did. As much fun as I had reading Nothing to See Here last year, Perfect Little World impacted me much more deeply. I adore Izzy and Dr. Grind and Mr. Tannehill and the entire setting of this story. They’re weird, the setting and premise are weird, but wonderfully so on all counts.

Imagine a gigantic home comprised of ten nuclear families, all raising their children together. No, this is not a commune or a cult. It’s a long-term science
Leah Bayer
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: idiot-heroine
Sometimes I'll be really enjoying a book, and suddenly come to a part where you can see the seams coming undone. It begins to drift further and further from what I want it to be, until I wind up at a hot mess of an ending. Sadly, that happened with Perfect Little World: a book with a lot of potential that somehow manages to squander every one of its interesting premises.

I'll start with the good, because I really don't want to be massively negative about this. I gave it 3 stars, after all! And th
Aliana Zamorano
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Completely and utterly shocked. The premise of this novel really really intrigued me. It intrigued me so much that I got through the slow beginning anticipating a meaty core. It was such a great premise that I kept reading through more of the same slow paced nothingness until I reached the end and was completely and utterly shocked to find I had arrived at the last page.

There was such an incredible opportunity for exploration of controversial content on family, social normals, behavior renderin
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I had not read anything along this line before so my sister and I picked this as a Book Of The Month selection. Young parents living a communal existance and raising their children as one big family. All this being funded by an elderly billionare as an experiment so the families also live with professionals who observe and record their lives. The kids don't know who their biological parents are for the first few years of their lives. One of the book's outcomes I saw coming pretty early on but it ...more
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perfect Little World is a gentle and somewhat whimsical novel about the meaning of family. Wilson's skill lies in his ability to interrogate quite intense ideas about the meaning and form of family, human nature, and how we would behave if isolated from society- in a light and engaging way that never feels taxing. Izzy and Preston Grind are both complex and engaging characters, although I was somewhat disappointed that many of the peripheral characters remained so peripheral. An interesting and ...more
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: big-girl-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
andrew y
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I made a mistake by reading this in two discrete time periods - my library reserve came in way faster than I anticipated and was wanted back right away. So this is my fault, since my complaints all center around a feeling of disconnect between two portions of the plot.
So this is actually probably my favorite book of the year?
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
A ten-year science experiment; a psychological take on communal living and child rearing. Sometimes thought-provoking, but overall, a tedious snooze fest. Too many characters, too much dialogue, not enough focus. It’s unfortunate because I LOVED Nothing to See Here and The Family Fang.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Um, wow.

First off, there are trigger warnings for self harm!!!! (I did not see this in any reviews and wow was it graphic!) and suicide and some borderline abuse.

(This review isn't explicitly spoilery at all, however i am kind of detailed so it might alluded to things so if you're super anti spoiler then don't read but it doesn't ruin anything important really)

Disclaimer: This book tackles a lot of very important issues, just not correctly. I say this so many times in the review, i just don't
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A more complete review is available on my blog:

Perfect Little World was one book that I had trouble putting down from the very first chapter. The writing was superb and the story was incredible. It was the perfect example of how plans for a utopia can quickly spiral out of control. I really enjoyed the different characters. Izzy is very mature for her age but also struggles with the responsibilities that she is now facing being a new, young mom. She finds
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Kevin Wilson was born, raised, and still lives in Tennessee. His writing has appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Greensboro Review, The Oxford American, Carolina Quarterly and elsewhere. His work has twice been included in the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology (2005, 2006). He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the KHN Center for the Arts. A graduat ...more

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