cover image Perfect Little World

Perfect Little World

Kevin Wilson. Ecco, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-245032-6

The author of The Family Fang invents another unusual family structure for his sweet and thoroughly satisfying second novel. When bright high school senior Izzy Poole, whose mother has died and whose alcoholic father ignores her, discovers that she is pregnant by the art teacher at her Tennessee school, her choices are limited, especially after the teacher commits suicide. So when she is approached by idealistic child psychologist Dr. Preston Grind to join an experiment in communal child raising funded by the billionaire heiress to a retail store fortune, she somewhat reluctantly takes up the offer. The idea is that Izzy and nine other couples, all pregnant at the same time, will raise their kids in common in the Infinite Family Project for 10 years, to see if that situation aids the children’s emotional and intellectual development. The children thrive; the adults, not so much. Wilson keeps his eye on the grown-ups, particularly Izzy and Preston, as rifts begin to form in the carefully planned and maintained structure. Wilson grounds his premise in credible human motivations and behavior, resulting in a memorable cast of characters. He uses his intriguing premise to explore the meaning of family and the limits of rational decision making. Agent: Julie Barer, the Book Group. (Jan.)