Perfect Little World

Perfect Little World

Book - 2017
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Kevin Wilson's anticipated follow-up to The Family Fang, Perfect Little World is a warm-hearted and emotional story about a young woman charting her own course.

"A novel you keep reading for old-fashioned reasons--because it's a good story and you need to know what happens. But you also keep reading because you want to know what a good family is. Everyone wants to know that." --John Irving, The New York Times Book Review

When Isabelle Poole meets Dr. Preston Grind, she's fresh out of high school, pregnant with her art teacher's baby, and totally on her own. Izzy knows she can be a good mother but without any money or relatives to help, she's left searching.

Dr. Grind, an awkwardly charming child psychologist, has spent his life studying family, even after tragedy struck his own. Now, with the help of an eccentric billionaire, he has the chance to create a "perfect little world"--to study what would happen when ten children are raised collectively, without knowing who their biological parents are. He calls it The Infinite Family Project and he wants Izzy and her son to join.

This attempt at a utopian ideal starts off promising, but soon the gentle equilibrium among the families disintegrates: unspoken resentments between the couples begin to fester; the project's funding becomes tenuous; and Izzy's growing feelings for Dr. Grind make her question her participation in this strange experiment in the first place.

Written with the same compassion and charm that won over legions of readers with The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson shows us with grace and humor that the best families are the ones we make for ourselves.

Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ♭2017
ISBN: 9780062450326
Characteristics: 336 pages


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Oct 04, 2017

I loved this book about families, love, ambition and "utopia." Funny, sweet, beautifully written.

CRRL_MegRaymond Oct 03, 2017

Preston Grind’s upbringing was an experiment in the “friction method” of parenting, invented by his psychologist parents. Now a psychologist himself, Dr. Grind has a different vision for parenting - a planned community.

Jul 11, 2017

I wish I could say that I liked this book, but I really didn't :( I feel like the book focuses too much on the main character at the beginning, so the rest of it feels rushed. Plus when it got to the point where all of the families were living together, it was SO HARD to keep up with all of the new characters that entered in at once. Parts of the book that were supposed to be intriguing didn't really make sense because I would forget what character they were even mentioning.

Chapel_Hill_MaiaJ Jul 07, 2017

While this type of novel is not what I'd normally enjoy (the plot was somewhat slow and plodding, more like reading a diary than anything else), it forced me to confront my own preconceptions about what makes a family and what "good" child-rearing should look like, and I found myself thinking about it for weeks afterward. It also left me with warm fuzzies, which I always appreciate in a novel!

Michael Colford Feb 05, 2017

As a follow-up to The Family Fang, reading Perfect Little World you can't help but wonder a little bit about Kevin Wilson's upbringing. In the former, two children are brought up by parents who are improv actors, and who have their young children join in elaborate public performances that shock and defy social convention. How it affects their adult lives is the heart of that story. In his most recent novel, Perfect Little World, Dr. Preston Grind is brought up by two loving parents under what is called the Constant Friction Method, introducing hardships in life starting at infancy (attaching weights to the infants feet while they are learning to crawl, for example) to better prepare them for the hardships of life. How this upbringing affects Dr. Grind, while perhaps not the sole thrust of this provocative and well-pondered novel, is certainly a big part of it.

Dr. Grind is at the center of a bold new social, research experiment, The Infinite Family Project (IFP). Funded in the multi-millions by the matriarch of big box conglomerate, the experiment proposes that children who are raised by an extended family, something akin to a commune without the free love, anti-establishment tropes, will flourish. Grind brings in 10 families, 9 couples and one single mother, all of whom will soon give birth, and upon delivering, they move together to a state-of-the art complex where they will all share in the upbringing and love of all the children, along with a small group of researchers and staff that will provide all the needs for not only the children, but the parents as well. The children will not know who their biological parents are until age 5 in this ten year project.

As one might imagine, things go fairly well for several years, but as the project rolls along, it is also no surprise that while the children adapt fairly well to this new family dynamic, the parents are the ones, face with their own emotional arcs, who could make it all collapse. The story is told largely from the point of view of Izzy, the singular, single parent, whose own upbringing and its challenges make her an excellent candidate for success with the IFP. While only 19 when she give birth, and the youngest of the parents, Izzy is one of the more level-headed of the group, and giving her perspective to the reader, helps normalize the experience even as we question its values. One interesting side-note that really didn't impact my enjoyment of the novel. Early on I pictured Izzy as African-American, and hence, her son as a mixed-race child, that even when a couple of minor descriptions lead me to believe that author thought of her as white, I did not let go of my picture of her, and for me, the novel works even better that way.

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