Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

A Children's Bible

Rate this book
Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel—her first since the National Book Award long-listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven—follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion.

Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and suffocated at the same time. When a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, the group’s ringleaders—including Eve, who narrates the story—decide to run away, leading the younger ones on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside.

As the scenes of devastation begin to mimic events in the dog-eared picture Bible carried around by her beloved little brother, Eve devotes herself to keeping him safe from harm.

A Children’s Bible is a prophetic, heartbreaking story of generational divide—and a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published May 12, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Lydia Millet

46 books828 followers
Lydia Millet has written twelve works of fiction. She has won awards from PEN Center USA and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and her books have been longlisted for the National Book Award, shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and named as New York Times Notable Books. Her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
7,711 (22%)
4 stars
13,732 (40%)
3 stars
9,244 (27%)
2 stars
2,756 (8%)
1 star
737 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,696 reviews
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 120 books160k followers
September 10, 2020
I love the premise and the use of first person plural. More layered than you might think. It’s a story about precious teenagers who are simply over their parents and then it becomes something else entirely. I think there could have been more development of the catalytic event and it’s aftermath. The ending starts to unravel. But still, I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Despite what didn’t work, I believed in the narrator and the rest of the kids. Really smart writing, too.
Profile Image for Marchpane.
296 reviews2,169 followers
May 26, 2020
A Children’s Bible is a weird shapeshifter of a novel. It morphs in gradual, surprising ways as you read. I enjoyed this aspect so much that I highly recommend going in cold—don’t even read the blurb!—with the caveat that, if you like your fiction strictly realistic, this might not be the book for you.

But if you are reading this review, it might already be too late for that. So, without giving away more than the blurb already does, A Children’s Bible is a wry, literary coming of age tale, in which several families with teen & pre-teen children share a holiday lakehouse … until their summer idyll is interrupted by the apocalypse.

The teenage Eve narrates, using a lot of the first-person plural as she speaks collectively for the children. They despise their degenerate, cocktail-addled parents, and devise all sorts of games and other means to avoid them over the long, languid days.

The parents are dangerously negligent, too busy having their ‘last hurrah’ to care about anything; the children camp on the beach for three days, returning to the house when a violent storm approaches; waters rise, flooding the grounds. After this ‘Flood’ arrives, more biblical references come thick and fast. Eve’s little brother Jack uses a bible to decode the strange events, saying: “…it’s a story. Things are symbols.” Jack doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe in nature.

When men with guns show up, things drifted into too-familiar Hollywood-movie brutality. Being set in America, maybe this was the only logical direction Millet could take. But this is ultimately a minor detour, and the earlier tone returns: a hazy, surreal dream in the midst of doom.

A Children’s Bible takes on the generational burden of climate change, and encodes it into familiar tropes from literary fiction, apocalypse tales, and religious eschatology. It’s a story, things are symbols. But it is also moving, even sweet at times. The measured trajectory from realistic, to implausible, to surreal, befits a world ‘caught off guard’ by a slow-moving and completely foreseeable crisis. 4.5 stars, rounded up.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
968 reviews6,865 followers
March 23, 2023
That was the sad thing about my molecules: they wouldn’t remember him.

The world ravaged by climate change, society thrashing in its death throes, a possible pandemic looming...a few years ago this might have seemed to some like the works of speculative apocalyptic fiction (or a natural prediction of the future to others). Lydia Millet’s newest novel, A Children’s Bible, tackles this potential future in a utterly engaging story that juxtaposes the youth culture with their parental generation in the handling of mass chaos. Set in some idyllic beach town on the East coast, a group of former college friends have gathered for one last hurrah in a rented house, bringing their children who detest the adults and the way they ignore impending doom by doing nothing beyond dancing and drinking. The children band together, initially through a game of trying to hide which adults they belong to, and inevitably set off on their own course of survival when everything comes crashing down. The novel is unfortunately exclusive to the narratives of white upper-middle class society despite urgent warnings that oppressed groups of people will be harmed the most from such catastrophe. Rife with Biblical allusions and metaphors, Millet examines generational divides and toxic social constructs in an apocalyptic novel that will certainly keep you up late eagerly reading onward.

Millet does well by giving life to a story in a fairly ready-made apocalyptic landscape. At this point, one does not have to dig too hard to find the data on impending climate crisis, or the vocal denialists. At present, scientists are warning of disaster a decade or so away. In the novel, it is no longer minimized as a political position for debate but an undeniable reality everyone is watching unfold. Eve and her companions are very aware of this--at the start of the book she is weighing how to break the news to her innocent 11 year old brother Jack--though still not sure what to make of it until the collapse finally happens. The adults, however, continue to always look away. In her book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein talks about the many ways we avoid engaging with the impending climate crisis--or acknowledging then looking away again--thus making us complicit in its inevitability through our inaction:
We engage in this odd form of on-again-off-again ecological amnesia for perfectly rational reasons. We deny because we fear that letting in the full reality of this crisis will change everything. And we are right.

The adults in this novel spend their time laughing and drinking and carrying on upholding the same society they know deep down is pushing everyone closer to the cliff’s edge. In the youth group, the frustration with their inaction manifests itself in disgust and distrust. ‘They shamed us,’ the narrator, Eve (many of the Biblical allusions are not exactly subtle), says of the parents, ‘they were a cautionary tale.’ They actively undermine the parent’s fun vacation and the bond over their shared disdain winks at the social tensions between the Boomer and Millennial Generation. For this purpose it seems Millet had written the dialogue of the teenage group to reflect Millennials. At first the dialogue fell flat for me as it seemed to be outdated slang and did not sound like a modern day teenager. It does, however, sound like how we talked when I was that age.

When they meet with a group of campers from the highest echelons of society--rich blonde boys on private yachts with famous parents who own apocalypse bunkers (‘with eleven backup generators!’ boasts one)--we see another youth culture that has dealt with the failures of the previous generations through a more Machiavellian approach and hide behind the wealth. The same accumulation of wealth that has set the world on a crash course, one of the boys notes.

Listen. We know we let you down,” said a mother. “But what could we have done, really?”
“Fight,” said Rafe. “Did you ever fight?”
“Or did you just do exactly what you wanted?” said Jen. “Always?

When a multi-day storm devastates the land the plot erupts along with the collapse of polite society. Jack, who has been given an illustrated children’s Bible by one of the mothers, begins to draw connections between the book and their predicament. They weather the storm in an “ark”--a treefort he and a hearing impaired boy Shel have filled with animals they rescued from the storm--and then set off with a man they found who has drifted down the river to a safe house he knows about, leaving the parents behind to their own vices. While the many Bible references are clever, they tend to be quite heavy-handed and not particularly fresh. While I did quite enjoy the way Paul the former tax collector is played out through a member of the armed militia that inevitably invades, many of the Biblical stories-come-to-life aren’t particularly exciting and fairly obvious, such as a list of homestead rules with “don’t make noise on the weekend” for example.

That said, the references are fun--three Trail Angels that show up at a birth and provide guidance is clever and charming--and don’t push a religious message per say. What Millet does well is use the allusions to create a sense of history-repeating-itself and while it relies heavily on the metaphors it never fully becomes an allegory, and this works to the benefit of the novel. It is not necessarily a religious novel, and much of the biblical usage becomes a message of believing in science. Jack decides he has decoded the Bible to be a metaphor with God as a stand in for Nature, Jesus as a stand in for Science, though he is still working out the Holy Spirit. ‘[I]f we believe science is real,’ he proclaims, ‘then we can act. And we’ll be saved.

As noted earlier, this is all part of Millet hoping to appeal to an audience that, it seems, she has determined through marketing algorithms will be something like middle aged white people who have a familiarity with Biblical teachings but wouldn’t view reworking them in a climate change novel to be blasphemous. If she is trying to push people towards expanding their views, that is cool, but the erasure of marginalized communities or the exponentially worse fates that will befall lower classes--particularly on racial lines--is rather unfortunate. Also perhaps only adds to the dangers that they face when couching everything in a white, middle-class society. The militia that arrive appear to be lower class--also white--which does tend to typecast anyone on the lower end of the financial spectrum as likely criminals. Additionally, the handling of the character Low--an adopted boy who can trace his ancestors back to Genghis Khan--is fairly problematic. Eve continuously gripes on how his manner of dress makes him undesirable and frequently is disgusted by the memory of kissing him and saying his tongue tasted like a ‘old banana’. While an argument could be made that Millet is showing how white middle-class culture distorts and rots culture, especially with the banana reference it still seems to judge the only character of Color based on their ‘exoticism’. There is a progressive attempt to critique society though, such as a few reprimands over homophobia from one of the younger boys and a character correcting improper when referring to trans folk.

Eve has an obsession with looks, though, that does work well into the message of the novel. She is disgusted by aging bodies (admittedly there is a lot of ageism that is inherent to this book), dislikes Low’s wearing of tie-dyed shirts and short shorts, etc. Much of this is critical, however, to a consumerist culture.
It suggested we’d had a low bar or triumph, in recent history. A dash of lipstick qualified, a haircut and some styling gel. A new outfit.
That was what the human spirit had turned into.

Aiming this particularly at clothing does nudge towards the expulsion from Eden when Adam and Eve were found ashamed of their nakedness. As the novel progresses, Eve drops much of this tone as she sees the ways life takes people in unexpected directions and so much of ourselves is forged in a society that is pushing towards our own destruction. She has a vision midway through the novel where she begins to reflect on our purer selves that are lost in the world and, finally, is able to give empathy to those she had detested.
They’d always been there, I thought blearily, and they’d always wanted to be more than they were. They should always be thought of as individuals, I saw. Each person, fully grown, was sick or sad, with problems attached to them like broken limbs. Each one had special needs.

One particularly positive aspect of the novel is the way the youth attempt to form a sustainable society. Millet does well to demonstrate that a union with the land in which one does not take more than it can give is a way forward. She avoids the eco-fascist approach that ‘humans are the cancer’ which ignores indigenous groups and societies that have managed to care for the environment in a productive manner and instead focuses her criticism on those who abuse the land and harm the environment. There is a championing of the human spirit in those who are able to adapt and find better, more efficient ways in living. This is once again juxtaposed with the adult group who cannot strip themselves of a life that is never coming back. The parents attempt to continue their job over Skype meetings (oh if only Millet knew it would have been Zoom) and fall into despair wanting to return to their normal. It is an interesting point being made in a book coming out pre-COVID but released as Americans were so divided over reopening the economy despite a pandemic still looming.

Despite a few misgivings, A Children’s Bible is quite an exciting and enjoyable novel. The relationship between Eve and her brother adds a tender heart amidst a dark and chaotic story, and there is a depth that makes for an enjoyable dive textually and a fast-moving plot that has one surprise after the next. Think Lord of the Flies meets The Road. I enjoyed this one, though I feel that Octavia Butler made better use of some of these themes in Parable of the Sower, though the interplay between generations in this one was really thought provoking and entertaining. This is a book that will especially hit home right now as we are all still navigating a pandemic.

3 / 5
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,783 reviews14.2k followers
June 9, 2020
Biblical apocalypse, climate Armageddon, Lord of the Flies and a little of The Road, with Pandora box thrown in for good measure. If you read this you will see where these references fit and maybe have a few of your own. What a story, a story that takes much from today's concerns and multiplies them.

I'm going to say only a little about the story itself, I think that is better for future readers. There are parents, hedonistic, freely imbibing and showing little concern for their children. The children have learned not to trust their parents and have pretty much starting takin care of themselves. There is a storm, many biblical illusions, but this is not a religious tome. It is a crisis exaggerated, or so I hope. Or maybe a long overdue warning. What can happen if we don't wake up and change our materialistic ways.

Can be read as a parable, a fable, each reader I'm sure will find their own interpretation. It is a clever novel, beautifully written and will provide much fodder for thought.

ARC from Edelweiss
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books519 followers
May 3, 2023
In this masterful dystopian novel, Lydia Millet makes extensive and very effective use of first person plural narration to set up a generational divide between 12 children and their parents. The narrator describes the story in terms of the collective action of the "we" children, who are completely neglected by their hedonistic parents.

The parents have brought their children on a very long group vacation, which is meant to be some sort of "last hurrah" among the group of adults. The parents don't care at all about the children, as they are so absorbed in their own lives of indulgence. The children are left to fend for themselves while the parents are single-mindedly focused on fulfilling their own basest desires. This is all set against a backdrop of environmental disaster, which the parents also ignore.

Not OK, Boomer.

The children strive to find their own way in the midst of of parental neglect and disaster.

Besides the effective use of first person plural narration, the generational conflict is enhanced by the fact that the children do not identify their own parents to the other kids. It is left as a game among the children to figure out which kids go with which parents.

The children's plot parallels several Bible stories, hence the title of the novel. The generational divide faced by the children is certainly of Biblical proportions. This book is a brilliantly written warning for the parents to take care of their children and our world. Not that they will actually pay attention...
Profile Image for Ron Charles.
1,050 reviews48.7k followers
May 13, 2020
In the beginning, the kids are alright. The adults, though, are already sliding toward Sodom and Gomorrah.

That’s the starting point of Lydia Millet’s novel “A Children’s Bible,” which offers a bracing reflection on the generational conflict playing out in the atmosphere. I swear on a stack of copies that it’s a blistering little classic: “Lord of the Flies” for a generation of young people left to fend for themselves on their parents’ rapidly warming planet.

Millet writes brilliantly about everything — politics, physics, mermaids — and she’s one of the leading writers of environmental fiction. As Richard Powers did in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Overstory,” Millet addresses the existential crisis of climate change with a technical understanding of the science and a humane understanding of the heart. She’s also ferociously witty. That rare combination has made her stories about species extinction and global warming profound and weirdly amusing.

“A Children’s Bible” moves like a tornado tearing along an unpredictable path through our complacency. It begins as a snarky teen comedy. A group of families has rented an old mansion together for the summer. The adults are all embarrassing, drunken bores. “As the evenings wore on, some parents got it into their heads to dance,” Millet writes. “A flash of life would move their lumpen bodies. . . .

To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,483 reviews79.1k followers
Shelved as 'dnf-lost-interest'
April 13, 2020
DNF @ 30%

*sobbing* I adore Lydia Millet, and her novel Sweet Lamb of Heaven is one of the most memorable books I've ever read, but I think this particular book of hers just isn't for me. I will be anxiously awaiting her future releases though, and remain a hardcore fan.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
April 2, 2023
Decoding For Beginners

A Children’s Bible reads like one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books updated for the 21st century. The children still live in their own world of adventure and discovery but sex and drugs are now incorporated as commonplace. Parents are no longer benign background figures but largely absent in their own world of alcohol and drug-induced haze and sexual exploits. The kids hate them and spend most of their time commenting about how unfortunate it is to have patents at all.

These modern children are not only aware of the sins of their parents, they also know that their greed, selfishness and general disregard for the world is destroying their future. Their parents essentially have no behavioural boundaries. But the young people - age from 8 to about 17 - instinctively know that civilised life requires rules (the one who has turned 18 is simply out of control and so beyond hope, already practising adulthood). So they invent various games and establish criteria for merits and demerits among themselves, thus inverting the conditions of Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

The narrative, appropriately held together by a girl named Eve, is peppered with biblical allusions - to the Hebrew Captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, the Flood, the Virgin Birth, the Crucifixion, and the Saviour’s arrival, among others - rearranged, intertwined, and reinterpreted. There’s even a pretty good development of a theory of the Christian divine Trinity. It makes an interesting introduction to the process of exegesis, and not just of the Bible. It is simultaneously an interpretation of current social conditions as seen from a child’s perspective - essentially the futility of the unending attempt to shelter ourselves through wealth.
Profile Image for Drew.
1,569 reviews507 followers
March 29, 2020
5+ out of 5.
Sometimes you read a book that strikes at your present moment more forcefully than the author could've ever imagined. A CHILDREN'S BIBLE is that kind of book, and if there's any justice, this is the book that people are going to come out of the coronavirus quarantine holding up as The Book of this time.

A bunch of rich (or rich-ish) parents descend on a big house for a summer vacation with all of their kids. Evie, one of the oldest, narrates a scene of debauchery and semi-idyll: the kids are left largely to their own devices while the parents drink and fuck and fuck off. But a massive storm hits and the kids strike out for somewhere else, having determined that their parents can no longer take care of them. They manage to hole up on a nearby property, but even that tranquility can't last.

I won't say more about the plot, because to read it (I'm sure at any time but particularly right now) is to be thoroughly ensorceled. Millet has written a great climate change novel, a great novel of the collapse of late capitalism, and a great novel of the hope of the young to see us through this time of terror and into a new, brighter, better world. I'm not one of the young any longer, although I hope I can stay on their side of the divide. The world our parents and even some members of my generation are pillaging right now, for the last hits off a dying bowl, cannot survive. It cannot sustain. The center cannot hold. If we are to believe in something, perhaps it is Jack's idea -- that God is Nature, Jesus is Science, and the Holy Ghost is Art. And that art must, as the book ends, be the ghost in the machine.

I'm unmoored, in the best way, by this book. Absolutely fantastic, utterly necessary. Read this book, soon as you can.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,634 followers
May 17, 2021
Sort of a Lord of the Flies meets the fourth season of the Walking Dead, A Children’s Bible is a fable about climate change, neglectful parents and the invincible optimism of children. It is rather a dark portrayal of adulthood with parents who have completely abdicated their roles in raising kids. The apocalyptic background sort of parallels the Bible stories which Jack reads along the way. The protagonist is his sister Evie who has pluck and grit and bears through the many catastrophes being a mother and friend to her younger brother.
It is a rather quick read and fairly well-written. I could almost go for five stars, but there was a touch of predictability to the story. Pprize thinks that this one is the front-runner for the Pulitzer. I think it may be better than the other three contenders I have read (Missionaries, Dear Ann, and Sorry for Your Trouble: Stories), and it is a better read than last year’s winner, but I am holding out hope that one of the other eleven will stand out a bit more. I think that Deacon King Kong, The Vanishing Half, or Jack should win.

My List of Pulitzer 2021 Hopefuls: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
November 3, 2022
The Children’s Bible is a kind of dystopian allegory of a near future descending into chaos. Brought on by climate disaster that the kids are aware of more than the adults. The parents are just clueless, wealthy, educated, but “drinking was a form of worship for them. . . they respected two things, drinking and money." Climate change has come quickly to disaster, whoops, there it is, we thought we had more time, shoot! Then chaos, people rioting over food and water, as the parents pair up and “couple” in upstairs bedrooms.

The kids look at all this as they see the world burn. These children--some of whom are also careless jerks in this book-- are not only aware of the sins of their parents, they also know that their greed, selfishness and general disregard for the planet is destroying their future.

“Do you blame us?” [a mom asks, late in the book]
“Oh, we blame you for everything.” [a girl]
“Oh, I don’t blame you. . ." [another girl]. The woman smiles gratefully. “I just think you’re stupid, and selfish. When the time came you just did what you always do, whatever you wanted to.”

“When we ran, if we chose to, we ran like flashes of silk. We had the vigor of those freshly born. Relatively speaking. And no, we wouldn’t be like this forever. We knew it, on a rational level. But the idea that those garbage-like figures that tottered around the great house were a vision of what lay in store—hell no. Had they had goals once? A simple sense of self-respect? They shamed us. They were a cautionary tale.”

“It was them and not them, maybe the ones they’d never been. I could almost see those others standing in the garden where the pea plants were, feet planted between the rows. They stood without moving, their faces glowing with some shine a long time gone. A time before I lived. Their arms hung at their sides. They’d always been there, I thought blearily, and they’d always wanted to be more than they were. They should always be thought of as invalids, I saw. Each person, fully grown, was sick or sad, with problems attached to them like broken limbs.”

If you think the parents are painted too broadly, too caricatured, consider that one strain of this pretty amazing, deeply angry and sad book is the darkest of comedy, satirizing adults--who are mostly considering their stock portfolio performance and getting wasted every day at the cocktail hour--from the perspective of the next generation left to clean up the mess. This is a view familiar to anyone growing up in the late sixties, where young people saw the post-WWII generation as racist, sexist, environmental disasters, pro-Viet Nam War, and so on.

Cue Greta Thunberg as the emblem of environmental responsibility:


and then, in the next slide, you'd want an image of a million adults partying and spending millions in Vegas, or whatever.

And yes, there are actual deaths and disasters that happen in this book. It's not merely a joke. Millet is writing climate fiction. She knows what is coming.

What are the narratives of children without adults? Lord of the Flies is a central one, a view that debunks the idea of childhood as Edenic innocence, and instead embraces the Calvinistic notion of total depravity. The kids in Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here periodically spontaneously combust, and recover, and are seen as the victims of upwardly mobile, negligent (and rich) parents. I am most recalling as I read this novel of a short story about neglectful parenting, “Pilgrims,” by Julie Orringer, where adults that are so selfishly caught up in sex and drugs in the seventies, leaving the kids alone, and this neglect leads to violence. As with The Children's Bible, this story is a vicious castigation of generations of ignorance leading to catastrophe.

I also thought of Nathaniel West’s social chaos in The Day of the Locust. Not quite realism, on the edge of madness. I thought of a pre-meme bumper sticker from the sixties: Never Trust Anyone Over Thirty, or the Who’s I Hope To Die Before I Get Old (still alive, old Who guys. . . who? Who!? Can you speak louder, I can’t hear from years of playing loud!). See Meg Rosoff’s YA dystopian How We Live Now. . . and maybe Peter Pan and the Lost Boys?

I didn’t love Millet’s most recent book, Dinosaurs, which might also be categorized as climate fiction. but I loved this one. It has a real edge to it, a sense of rage and despair and absurdity I relate to in it. Climate fiction at its best.

“That time in my personal life, I was coming to grips with the end of the world. The familiar world, anyway. Many of us were. Scientists said it was ending now, philosophers said it had always been ending. Historians said there’d been dark ages before. It all came out in the wash, because eventually, if you were patient, enlightenment arrived and then a wide array of Apple devices. Politicians claimed everything would be fine. Adjustments were being made. Much as our human ingenuity had got us into this fine mess, so would it neatly get us out. Maybe more cars would switch to electric. That was how we could tell it was serious. Because they were obviously lying.”

And the title, The Children's Bible? My sister and I had one of those, growing up. Noah's ark, lots of animals there and in the Garden of Eden. As in this book, where a child carries a Children's Bible around. Always they leave out the Book of Revelation--too disturbing for kids. I like that moral thread through this book.

Delicious and horrible horror for Halloween.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,389 reviews115 followers
October 15, 2020
National Book Award for Fiction Shortlist 2020. First of all this is NOT a bible. Instead, Millet has written a dystopian tale where twelve children are far more mature than their alcohol-, drug, and sex-obsessed parents. The negligent parents have rented a huge house for the summer and have left the children to fend for themselves. Not surprisingly, both the parents’ and their children’s lives become forever altered when a severe storm strikes and society begins to break down.

There are striking similarities to Biblical stories—there is a birth in a barn, a plague, a ‘savior’, and more—but these allegorical illusions fizzle out. What the children decide is that God is nature, and Jesus is science. What is implied is that science can save us from catastrophe due to climate change, but only if we act now. The alternative is that we drift like the clueless parents and do nothing.
Profile Image for Alex.andthebooks.
326 reviews1,967 followers
January 30, 2022
Zaskoczyła pod każdym względem. Były momenty mojego zwątpienia, ale w ogólnym rozrachunku naprawdę cieszę się, że siegnelam, bo to wspaniala alegoria aktualnych problemów naszego świata.
Profile Image for Janet.
866 reviews56 followers
August 8, 2020
Maybe it's because I'm a parent but I found this book to be simplistic and insulting. It's a story about the end of the world brought on by climate change where the children are portrayed as intelligent, responsible, organized and mature and the parents are essentially stoners who have allowed this thing to happen.

Climate change had been happening long before the current crop of parents were out of diapers themselves and the reasons are more political than personal. It is very much tied to capitalism. How many of today's young people eat animal products? Well that is one area where they can make an impact right now....just stop. And if you are reading this review and don't know what I'm talking about you need to educate yourself.

There was also some drivel about Noah's Ark and trying to save the animals and that Jesus is science and the Holy Ghost is art. Very much a reach if you ask me.

This is my first Millet and I would like to read more of her but I will have to be careful what I pick after this experience.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,118 followers
January 25, 2021
This novel from the Tournament of Books shortlist starts with a multi-family vacation on the coast, with parents that are a bit absentee and children who talk like they have PhDs. A storm comes and along the way it starts to become clear that these are not normal times or circumstances, and it rolls over into an apocalypse journey/survival tale. If the tone of this post comes across as unimpressed, that is an accurate interpretation. Add the wandering tropes to heavy handed allegory (a girl named Eve, saving animals, a flood, a discussion of knowledge) and this was just not a great read for me.
Profile Image for James.
95 reviews101 followers
April 8, 2021
3.5 stars — My feelings about “Generation Z” can roughly be divided into Pre-Parkland vs. Post-Parkland .

(I'm referring to Parkland, Florida and the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 that inspired the student survivors to rise up and demand common-sense gun reform laws). 

Pre-Parkland : Shallow, semi-literate spoiled brats always glued to their phones and counting Instagram followers.

Post-Parkland : Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. They're not that bad. They might even be (gasp) better than my generation?

Both versions show up in Lydia Millet's cautionary dystopian parable about two generations (Gen Z and their X/Boomer parents) confronting a not-too-distant future in which the catastrophic consequences of climate change start to occur all at once.

In the early chapters, it feels like we've been dropped into a darkly funny Wes Anderson comedy about a group of affluent teenagers (and a few younger siblings) forced to spend an extended summer vacation at a rented coastal mansion with their drunken, pill-popping parents.

I won't say much more about the plot, since I was lucky enough to go into this knowing next to nothing and I think that really enhanced my enjoyment. Let's just say having their phones locked away in the mansion safe by their parents ends up being the LEAST of these kids' worries before the summer is over....

This is one of those books that appears to be one thing, then takes a sharp left turn and seems to be something entirely different....But wait, it's not exactly that either, what the heck is happening??? The author teases and subverts expectations in a way I found captivating.

Of course this can make things a bit tonally uneven and stylistically messy at times. In places, Millet seems to be aiming for the pathos and earnestness of straightforward drama. But then she’ll veer off into absurdist social satire in ways that feel detached from any realistic story. Characters start talking and behaving unlike anybody I've ever known in real life.

I don't have a problem with either approach on its own, but I found the mash-up here to be a bit jarring. It muddled the message and limited the overall effectiveness for me on both an intellectual and emotional level.

Still, who can't forgive a few tonal clashes when the writing is this GOOD? Millet's prose is crisp and dry as a pile of raked autumn leaves. She is tough and unsparing, but never hopeless or cruel.

Reading this while still in the midst (but hopefully closer to the end) of a global pandemic made it all the more chilling. Not only that, but I can literally turn on the TV right this second and see stories of drought, wildfires, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and entire species nearing extinction. Yet so many in my generation and older (myself included) would rather bury our heads in the sand and pretend like none of this is happening. As if ignoring the problem or punting it to the next generation will miraculously make it all go away?!?

Which brings me back to that whole Pre-Parkland vs. Post-Parkland divide.

Not unlike some of the young characters in this novel, those brave young students refused to be prisoners of their own trauma and grief. They were fed up with waiting for us "grown-ups" to do the right and responsible thing, and their eloquent, righteous rage couldn't help but surprise and inspire.

Considering this generation is probably our last, best hope to save us (and the planet) from ourselves, I think I can learn to live with them pulling their phones out at dinner. 😅
Profile Image for Ilenia Zodiaco.
267 reviews14.1k followers
April 16, 2022
Dalla forte impronta allegorica, "I figli del diluvio" si dimostra un'ironica speculazione ecologista sull'inevitabile conflitto che interessa le generazioni "responsabili" della crisi climatica che sta sconquassando il nostro pianeta - la nostra casa - e le generazioni più giovani che erediteranno un mondo guastato ma di cui riconoscono la bellezza, per quanto precaria e fragile.

Una lettura che ti fa grattare il cervello, provocatoria e molto cruda, sebbene il messaggio di fondo - fin troppo marcato - ne monchi spesso le potenzialità drammatiche ed estetiche, ad esempio i personaggi hanno il fiato davvero troppo corto, trattenuti dal ruolo assegnato loro fin dall'inizio.
Profile Image for Elaine.
808 reviews374 followers
January 1, 2021
I'm a huge Millet fan, and a devourer of all things dystopian and apocalyptic but this one felt a little paint by numbers for me. The Biblical parallels seemed pretty anvil-like (although there are undoubtedly more than I noticed), and the central theme - of a generation of adults who has failed the earth and its own children - is repeated with a rather monotonous insistence. There is no change or nuance in this dynamic.

Neither is there much variation or development in character among the gaggle of teenagers that are our protagonists. The book is largely narrated in the first person plural, and except for Evie and her brother Jack, the "children's" personalities remain on a very high sketched in level.

Nonetheless, the book is well written, with a good deal of narrative tension, and some wry humor. There are some very scary scenes, rendered scarier by their believability. Not the greatest addition to the evergrowing category of near-future apocalyptic novels, but not a waste of time either.
Profile Image for Neale .
310 reviews144 followers
January 20, 2021
Shortlisted for the 2021 TOB.

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.
Profile Image for Debbie.
1,442 reviews
October 11, 2020
well - I really felt like I should like this novel - it's has GREAT reviews and is nominated for big literary awards - this is SERIOUS FICTION. But it is not for me. I read lots of science fiction and fantasy and mysteries (lots of genre literature) as well as contemporary fiction and I favor character over plot. My personal requirement in fiction is that the world and characters work - seem real - within the story. I know there are no such things as hobbits, wizards, sand worms, etc but the world of those creatures/characters were 'real' in those books. In A Children's Bible - nothing made sense nor drew me in. There was no way I could accept that ALL the parents spent ALL their time in a hedonistic bubble and let ALL the children run amok. And likewise - ALL the children were the responsible ones? And who was that woman in the helicopter? And ALL the parents just leave at once? And toss in looters with guns - because why not? There wasn't a true moment or true character for me in this story. I do not understand the accolades this book is getting - but maybe that says something more about me - I don't know.
Profile Image for Vonda.
318 reviews114 followers
April 30, 2020
A beautifully flowing and wonderful book about a group of teens, thrown together by their parents during a group family vacation, who band together against the drunken and irresponsible adults around them. It begins as a story about how kids view their parents and flows into a complex story about how the young people survive and take charge of an apocalyptic world. Eve’s little brother has a children’s bible, and the world around them mimics the things he reads about, including Noah and the flood, a group of “angels” that help them, and the end times of Revelations. First of Lydia Millet's books but certainly won't be the last!
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
652 reviews388 followers
November 16, 2021
I've been on a streak of really killer novels lately and the trend continues with Lydia Millet's excellent humorous apocalypse, A Children's Bible. The novel sees children of wealthy parents on a vacation as the climate begins to collapse. Forget whatever you're imagining and wait until you get a load of these totally inept and blotto parents. The prose is sharp, the children well-realized, and the tone a perfect emulsion of climate dread and humour.

There's lots to unravel here: Christian symbolism, the apathy of the parents as a surrogate for society at large, and children who step up to the plate of a ball game they've already lost. But I'm still parsing that all out for myself, and I think you should too. I'm going to let this sensational little book percolate in the back of my brain since I can tell it'll be staying in my brain rent free for the next while. It's only the best books that linger like that!
Profile Image for Darryl Suite.
523 reviews419 followers
September 24, 2020
This book took a long time to get going. It took about 40 pages for me to get into its rhythm. I think it had to do with the jaded tone of the narrator. It slowed things down and it became tiring after awhile. By the way, jaded and deadpan narrators in these kind of stories seem to be trendy right now (Severance, Weather).

A Children's Bible did manage to go into really surprising directions. And ⅔ into the book was actually pretty terrifying. But there was something missing. To be honest, I think the narration was kind of the downfall of the book. It was so focused on maintaining its cynical tone that it ended up diluting the potency of the actual story. I mean every single character is cynical and dejected. It's a lot.

I didn't hate the book. I just wished I liked it more. 
Profile Image for Justine.
1,158 reviews312 followers
January 1, 2022
An unflinching story that takes on the existential threat of climate change and the growing generational divide through the clear and resilient eyes of the youth most affected.

If you care to look, there are tons of reviews and discussions about this National Book Award finalist. I found it impossible to put down, the feelings it invokes both precise and nebulous, mirroring and reflecting back the inevitable change on our horizon.
Profile Image for Erin Glover.
502 reviews36 followers
May 17, 2020
I've never understood why Lydia Millet isn't more famous. This novel did not change my sentiment.

A group of families get together one summer and rent a mansion, the Great House, by the sea. From the very beginning, the children, most of whom are 16 and 17, do everything possible to distance themselves from their parents. They play a game the object of which is to prevent their friends from finding out to which parents they belong. "Hiding our parentage was a leisure pursuit, but one we took seriously." Their disdain for their parents is palpable. When they tell their parents about the game so they'll play along, one of the kids insists the parents should "[t]hink of the attic [where all the kids sleep] as a reservation. Imagine you're the white conquerors who brutally massacred our people. And we're the Indians." Wow. These kids are serious about keeping their parents away from them, going so far as comparing them to murderers.

The kids create a system of accounting doling out merits and demerits to each other. "A merit was for an outrage successfully committed, a demerit for an act that should bring on humiliation. Juicy got merits for drooling into cocktails undetected, while Low got demerits for kissing up to a father." Aside from drinking to excess, and using cocaine the "worst of [the parents'] crimes was hard to pin down and therefore hard to punish correctly--the very quality of their being. The essence of their personalities." These kids are repulsed by their parents!

By page 12, we know the teens are aware of their youth and that it won't last. "But the idea that those garbage-like figures that tottered around the great house were a vision of what lay in store--hell no...Had they had goals once? A simple sense of self-respect?...They shamed us. They were a cautionary tale." The teens would do anything to avoid being like their parents.

In spite of the title, the book is not really about religion, although it has lots of biblical references. In fact, the book is told from the perspective of Eve (as in Adam and Eve). Evie is Jack's older sister. Jack carries around a children's bible a drunken mother gave him. The bible has lots of pictures and stories in it, including one about a talking snake and a lady who liked fruit, Jack tells Eve.

The Bible is kind of a prophecy. Many of the events and disasters in the Bible seem to occur to the children, not the least of which is a huge storm that floods the area and puts holes in the Great House. The kids meet Burl in the woods, a groundskeeper who offers to help the kids "escape" after the storm when the parents refuse to leave. But first Jack insists on gathering animals from the woods, and carrying them away from the Great House after carving their names into the flooded house, the "Ark". The kids intend to drive to Juicy's house, a ten-bedroom mansion in Westchester County. But they find the roads blocked with fallen trees and the roads are impassable. They end up at the farm Burl was caretaking. There are other adults there that the kids call angels, again a Biblical reference.

Jack's interest in the Bible is a bit scientific. He comes to realize that "God" is a code word for nature. "They say God but they mean nature...And we believe in nature." Indeed, the kids "respected the lake and stream and most of all the ocean." They believe in God.

This is where Millet gets at the gist of why the kids distrust the parents--they don't care about the environment. They were artsy, educated, and rich types who got sloppy when drunk but who were slugs without alcohol. The kids' association with the parents "diminished us and compromised our personal integrity." The final straw for the kids was when the parents dose themselves with ecstasy and it appears that an orgy of sorts occurs. Mostly, it seems the kids are upset the parents have left the world a shittier place choosing personal comfort over protecting the environment.

At the farm, horrors await much like the pictures in the Bible. Power lines and phone lines are down due to the storm. Roads are flooded. There is little cell service. From here, the story becomes one of survival of the fittest children. A kind of Lord of the Flies-type scenario.

Millet asks what the one-percenters would do without the shelter of wealth. She shows the parents as concerned only with money, while the children learn to survive in the shattered world of crashed stock markets and crazy weather they inherited from their selfish parents. Whereas wealth was the biggest asset for the parents, resilience becomes the biggest asset for the children. We get a glimpse of what the world looks like when angry teens wrench it from the hands of adults. These adults "functioned passably in a limited domain. Specifically adapted to life in their own small niches. Habitat specialists..." It seems they cannot survive in the "real" world.

Millet's writing is gorgeous. It's tinged with magical realism, especially at the end. I don't know how this book can be categorized. It's part thriller, part horror, part young adult novel. Whatever it is it's a fantastic book that highlights the atrocity of crimes against nature and the sole pursuit of money and how those actions affect younger generations.
Profile Image for Barbara**catching up!.
1,398 reviews805 followers
June 21, 2020
3.5 Stars: “A Children’s Bible” by Lydia Millet is at heart a climate change cautionary tale with a “Lord of the Rings” spirit. The children in this story hold their parents primarily responsible for all the environmental ills, accusing them of hedonism and ignorance. This is almost a dystopian tale of the future with climate change accounting for the destruction of the earth.

The story isn’t all bleak. Our narrator is Evie, a teen on a summer vacation at “the big house” with multiple families. The children, teens and younger, decide that they will rule themselves. The parents are hedonistic, drinking “the hair of the dog” and continuing to drink through the day and night. There are drugs involved and a bit of “spouse swapping”. Through Evie’s eyes, Millet uses subtle humor. The children are disgusted by their parent’s behavior and begin their own society, beginning with their self-imposed exile to the top floor of the big house to bunk. The parents are not allowed there.

To add to the fun, the children decided that they will keep their parentage to themselves. No child claims a parent. It’s a game. The last child whose parentage remains a mystery wins. Evie’s young brother, Jack, finds a children’s bible that is full of stories. Jack finds that some of the stories from the bible are happening now. Jack sees old testament chaos in the current world.

I chuckled through the first half of the novel, and then the story turned to the dark side. Millet’s characterization of the parents is sad, but she’s using it as an allegory to the next generations needing to fix the hubris of the older generation.

I found the story mesmerizing. I loved the children’s society, even if it was a bit overblown, which is the same as the overblown self-indulged parents. I recommend this as an interesting read; the story might awaken some of us older generation who love our A/C and drive everywhere instead of walking.
Profile Image for Casey.
769 reviews20 followers
October 26, 2020
Ugh, I figured a National Book Award nominee with teenage protagonists in a doomsday scenario would be right up my alley, but this was painful. A biblical allegory combined with jaded, hypocritical teens, precocious children, and parents who have fallen straight into Sodom and Gomorrah. The book tackles issues of climate change, family disconnectedness, and wealth, but mostly presents adulthood as a sickness, a morally bankrupt condition. These teens swear they'll never be like their parents, but also want access to pot, cell phones, and swanky guest houses. The narrator's voice is so infuriatingly blase as the main character Eve that it's almost impossible to get into the book--I can't believe I listened to the whole thing.
Profile Image for Samantha.
1,767 reviews96 followers
October 13, 2020
I can’t decide if releasing a speculative fiction novel about a pandemic during a pandemic is the best marketing ever or the worst.

Personally, I didn’t particularly care for it. And do I need to add a pandemic trigger warning to this? I long for the days of 6 months ago when no such question would have even occurred to me.

But pandemic or not, the review must go on.

The Children’s Bible has its moments. The humor is quite good for the most part, as are many of the wry observations made by our child protagonists about their parents and adults in general.

Mostly though, the book tries to be too many things. It’s a pandemic novel! It’s a climate change cautionary tale! It’s a really weird spin on Lord of the Flies! It’s a biblical parallel!

The Lord of the Flies thing kind of worked. The biblical parallel didn’t. The pandemic stuff is unfortunately just too on the nose at the moment (no blame placed on the author for that one though. I doubt she saw COVID-19 coming when she wrote this).

There’s some cleverness to the book’s bent on climate change, but mostly it’s nothing new and it gets lost in the sea of other subjects the book tries to address.

This is a better book than Sweet Lamb of Heaven (hey, at least she used a real disease this time!), but ultimately the ambition of it far exceeds the execution.
Profile Image for Story.
870 reviews3 followers
August 27, 2021
In an age where the young justifiably blame the old for the devastation of the planet, this dystopian tale of youthful alienation and environmental apocalypse resonated deeply with me.

A group of self-indulgent and wealthy parents, enjoying a two month summer sea-side debauch, are so dazed by sex, alcohol and drugs they barely notice the end-times arrive. Their children, far more canny, are left to fend for themselves.

Narrated by the sharp-eyed, cynical Eve, the story grabbed me from the first paragraph and didn't let go. While I was sometimes confused by who some of the other children were, the plot and writing kept me hooked. Some passages were so beautiful and captured so clearly my own feelings about what is happening to our planet that I had to copy them into my journal to savor later.

This was my first novel by Lydia Millet and I look forward to reading more by her.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,696 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.