A Children’s Bible

Norton. May 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781324005032. $25.95. F
Millet’s follow-up to her award-winning Sweet Lamb of Heaven is a disturbing tale of a summer vacation gone wrong. Self-indulgent parents gather for a college reunion with their combined group of 12 children at a sprawling lakeside mansion. After locking up all cell phones for absolute relaxation, they show complete indifference as they disintegrate into drugs, alcohol, and sex. Teenage narrator Evie leads the loosely organized group of teens and preteens, reveling in their new freedom, but excitement turns to panic after a cataclysmic thunderstorm causes severe flooding and a power outage. Evie protects the younger ones, including her brother Jack, an innocent nature lover hauling around his collection of animals and plants. Obsessed with stories in his illustrated children’s Bible, Jack, like Noah, must rescue his animals from this flood. Joined by Burl, the estate gardener, the children gather their slim resources, including salvaged cell phones, and take off in fishing boats for higher ground. Burl directs them to a farm that proves only a temporary salvation. The children prove resourceful but pay a huge price.
VERDICT Millet delivers a tense, prophetic tale about inattention to warning signs with allusions to biblical tales and embedded themes of environmental and climactic disasters. A gripping page-turner with an end-times quality. [See Prepub Alert, 11/4/20.]
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