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There’s nothing like watching a cast of characters grow up in front of your eyes, each passing year making each person both more and less knowable, until you are as attuned to their individual changes as to the waxing and waning of your own understanding, delight, and frustration with them. With Kevin Wilson’s latest, Perfect Little World, such character growth is nearly steroidal as we are presented with not only a cast of ten babies, but also ten pairs of parents, all living together in pursuit of a revolutionary child psychology experiment created by Dr. Preston Grind. Under such extreme circumstances, impossible to imagine yet, under Wilson’s meticulous hand, compellingly and magically easy to believe, we follow Isabelle Poole, the only single mother involved in the Infinite Family project, as she tries to stitch together a family out of total strangers. Wilson, as author, is the true parent of this brood of squalling characters, and he treats them each like a good parent might, with watchful love, never blind to their flaws but always, eventually, forgiving of them. I wished that I could live in the imperfect, larger-than-life world that is Wilson's novel forever. I'll settle for knowing that I can visit anytime I like.
“Izzy Poole is 18, pregnant with her erratic art teacher's baby, and without any family or money to help her raise her child. Dr. Preston Grind is tragically widowered and estranged from his parents, who raised him using unconventional and unhealthy methods in the name of science. Dr. Grind invites Izzy and nine other couples also expecting their first child to join the Infinite Family Project, an experiment in communal parenting and an attempt to rebuild Dr. Grind's broken family. This is a fascinating and touching exploration of what makes or breaks a family.”
— Marisa Langlois (E), Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
“Wilson’s ambition alone is exciting. . . . [His] writing has a Houdini-like perfection, wherein no matter how grim the variables, each lovely sentence manages to escape with all its parts intact.” —Boston Globe
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.
Kevin Wilson is the author of the novels The Family Fang, a New York Times bestseller and a best book of the year in Time, People, Salon, and Esquire; and Perfect Little World. His story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, received an Alex Award from the American Library Association as well as the Shirley Jackson Award. He teaches fiction at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and two sons.