Perfect Little World

Ecco: HarperCollins. Jan. 2017. 352p. ISBN 9780062450326. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062450357. F
Dr. Preston Grind, a wunderkind child psychologist, himself the product of a highly questionable "friction method" of parenting developed by his own psychologist parents, sets up an experimental family community in the woods of Tennessee with the financial assistance of a kindhearted billionaire widow. Housing nine young couples and one single mother (19-year-old Izzy), this collective parenting study assigns all of the adults equal responsibility for each of the kids, who don't live with their own parents (or even know their actual identity) until the age of five. It seems unbelievable that Dr. Grind and the team of psychologists he hires to organize, run, and study the community couldn't have foreseen the obvious complications of this setup, sexual indiscretions and marital infidelities chief among them. Wilson (The Family Fang) presents this world through the eyes of Izzy and Dr. Grind, both smart and sensitive individuals damaged by painful upbringings who learn to overcome them and connect.
VERDICT It takes a village, or in this case a well-meaning, utopian parenting study, to create the ingredients for this almost farcical yet moving novel about love, parenting, and the families we create for ourselves. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/16.]
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