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All booksLiterary fictionPerfect Little World
Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
Literary fiction

Perfect Little World

by Kevin Wilson

Quick take

Isn’t it better to try for an idealized version of the world, than not to have tried at all?

Why I love it

Maris Kreizman
Author, Slaughterhouse 90210

At a time when dystopian novels are all the rage, what a delight to read a novel about striving for perfection, no matter how short the effort may fall. If I could choose one author to write about a flawed yet earnest attempt at utopia, Kevin Wilson would be at the top of my list. Even as he relishes the absurd details in his characters’ lives, he never mocks them, never treats them with anything less than compassion.

Perfect Little World is the story of an ambitious sociological experiment called 'œThe Infinite Family Project.' Dr. Preston Grind, a young and idealistic child psychologist, heads up the study with funding from an elderly big box store magnate, taking the 'œIt takes a village' model of co-parenting to a new level.

Dr. Grind picks ten newborns, along with their parents, and stashes them all in a beautiful complex deep in the Tennessee woods to find out what happens when the children grow up parented collectively by all participants. No child will learn who his or her birth parents are until the sixth year of the study. All parents and children will be well provided for, from education and healthcare, to job training for the parents.

Told from the point of view of the only single parent to take place in the experiment, a young mother named Isabelle Poole, Perfect Little World follows the members of this makeshift family as the study evolves over years. We see the development of both the children and the parents, and also the jealousies and broken hearts, petty fights and larger conflicts that emerge as the years pass. It’s a novel that’s so fun to read that you might forget how fundamentally philosophical it is: What is a family? Do more parent mean more love? How long can such a community maintain its harmony? And ultimately, which are the ties that truly bind?

There are darker questions that arise as well: How does a science experiment differ from a cult? How fallible is human nature? And most importantly, will people separated from regular society want to make out with each other all the time? The novel aims to answer these questions, but it never devolves into satire because the author is too generous for that. Ultimately, the novel’s most enduring question might be: isn’t it better try for an idealized version of the world, than not to have tried at all?

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Member thoughts

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All (3564)
Love (1421)
Like (1886)
Dislike (257)
3682 ratings
  • 39% Love
  • 51% Like
  • 7% Dislike
  • Longview, TX

    Love the little separate community the 10 kids form apart from the adults! Izzy was a surprisingly likable protagonist. I wonder how things would have played out if the kids never knew “their” parents

  • Rancho Cucamonga, CA

    This is such a great book. It is a little slow at first, but give it a shot. The characters are enjoyable. The study brings an entirely new meaning to the “it takes a village.” I loved this book......

  • Hebron, IN

    This book will make you ponder the awesome responsibility that is raising a child. As a parent, this book highlights how we all struggle to do what we think is best. Good thought provoking read!”

  • Southington , CT

    Perfect little world is a thought provoking read that not only questions ones own upbringing but societies impact as a whole on child rearing. Deeply moving and personal it's hard to believe it's fict

  • Slater, CO

    I adored this! I read it after reading Ayn Rand's Anthem and it was a beautiful contrast to a dystopian world. While idealized communities can fail in ways, they can also succeed in many ways as well.

  • Pittsburgh, PA

    Such a unique book, unlike anything I have ever read! As a parent of young kids, it was also thought provoking. I've always believed "it takes a village" to raise children, this was a new take on that

  • Ballwin, MO

    This book was the best thing I've read in a while. Wilson's style of written was amazing and I felt connected to each and every character. Definitely made me think about the lessons in my own context.

  • Cullman, AL

    Intelligent, young mother makes decisions to improve the life of her son. This idea is beautiful on its own; however, the added strangeness of sharing the child and the children of others? Incredible.

  • Malvern, AR

    I loved this book! It had a good pace to it. I genuinely cared about these characters and wanted to know how their lives were going to turn out. Great book! Could not put it down from beginning to end

  • Norwalk, CT

    The synopsis totally drew me in and the book was much more realistic than I was expecting - I think I expected a dystopian-ish novel but instead the story was very relevant and realistic. Fascinating!

  • Tacoma, WA

    I really enjoyed reading this novel. As a mother it really made me stop and ask questions about how I am verse how I want to raise my child. What makes or breaks a family. I hope this becomes a movie

  • Independence, MO

    This is a well-written treasure of a novel that explores the infinite ways we understand and experience family, perhaps the most complex, the most flawed, and the most important relationships we have.

  • Independence, IA

    As an educator, I find myself in a position of teaching, guiding, protecting and, at times, nearly raising children that are not my own. This book addressed the merits and the struggles of that role.

  • Chandler, AZ

    Parts of the ending became almost predictable because of basic human actions/mistakes, but not enough to make it boring. Great insight into community. Very confusing with so many characters sometimes.

  • Spokane, WA

    All the people that came to Dr. Grind for advice on how to cope with the traumatic aftereffects of the Constant Friction Method. Made me wonder how many of the children will be damaged from the IFP...

  • Bixby, OK

    Loved it! I love psychology in general, especially child psychology and this was SO interesting! I fell in love with the characters, couldn't put it down and was connected emotionally the entire book!

  • louisville, KY

    Although I felt like the author could've taken the subject matter to even more of an extreme, what he did with the ideas in the book were interesting. A little too neat of a wrap up at the end though.

  • Vancouver, WA

    I loved the examination of what it means to be a family. I also loved the attempt at a utopia while realistically acknowledging that it could never be - people are flawed & therefore so are families.

  • Frisco, TX

    This book was a surprise in the best possible way. You never know what you are going to get with a book about people who join a social experiment--it could get weird. But this was sweet and thoughtful

  • Arlington, VA

    This was so much fun and so complex. You really began to root for the characters. I think most important you wanted the family to stay together. When the family hurt, you hurt. Exceptionally well done

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