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Jane lived happily in Miami Beach with her father until his failed suicide attempt and relocation to a mental hospital forced her into the foster care system. By chance, Jane is assigned to foster parents in central Florida who are deeply involved in the Second Day Believers&mdasha cult focused on the “cleansing” of mental impurities in their children, and the sanctity of Jane lived happily in Miami Beach with her father until his failed suicide attempt and relocation to a mental hospital forced her into the foster care system. By chance, Jane is assigned to foster parents in central Florida who are deeply involved in the Second Day Believers&mdasha cult focused on the “cleansing” of mental impurities in their children, and the sanctity of the internal organs of farm animals. Jane is quickly initiated into the Second Day Believers, but her father’s lingering voice prevents her from becoming entirely indoctrinated. Despite Jane’s resistance, she is revered in the cult as the second coming of the late wife of Sir One, the leader of the Second Day Believers. Poised to rise through the ranks of the insane cult and marry their leader, Jane must make a difficult choice. Stupid Children is a story inspired by Katherine Dunn’s, Geek Love, and written in a voice similar to Donald Barthelme. Hilarious, offbeat, fast-paced and wildly imaginative, Zion, a doctor of psychology, imbues her characters with bizarre psychological abnormalities to create vivid, memorable eccentrics that leap from the page. With deadpan, wonderful ruminations on tattoos, the nature of coincidence, drug use, father-daughter relationships, mental illness, violence, and deviant sexuality, this novel is destined to become a cult favorite.


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Jane lived happily in Miami Beach with her father until his failed suicide attempt and relocation to a mental hospital forced her into the foster care system. By chance, Jane is assigned to foster parents in central Florida who are deeply involved in the Second Day Believers&mdasha cult focused on the “cleansing” of mental impurities in their children, and the sanctity of Jane lived happily in Miami Beach with her father until his failed suicide attempt and relocation to a mental hospital forced her into the foster care system. By chance, Jane is assigned to foster parents in central Florida who are deeply involved in the Second Day Believers&mdasha cult focused on the “cleansing” of mental impurities in their children, and the sanctity of the internal organs of farm animals. Jane is quickly initiated into the Second Day Believers, but her father’s lingering voice prevents her from becoming entirely indoctrinated. Despite Jane’s resistance, she is revered in the cult as the second coming of the late wife of Sir One, the leader of the Second Day Believers. Poised to rise through the ranks of the insane cult and marry their leader, Jane must make a difficult choice. Stupid Children is a story inspired by Katherine Dunn’s, Geek Love, and written in a voice similar to Donald Barthelme. Hilarious, offbeat, fast-paced and wildly imaginative, Zion, a doctor of psychology, imbues her characters with bizarre psychological abnormalities to create vivid, memorable eccentrics that leap from the page. With deadpan, wonderful ruminations on tattoos, the nature of coincidence, drug use, father-daughter relationships, mental illness, violence, and deviant sexuality, this novel is destined to become a cult favorite.

30 review for Stupid Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paltia

    An unusual story with occasional bursts of wisdom. At times, the narrator, Jane, seems to rant and then she is filled with revelations on a wide range of topics. She never comes across as a stupid child but more as an ageless being who has earned her rightful place at the head of the table. It’s her job to inform the world what she’s heard and seen while in foster care and a cult. She does this with feeling, but never too much. Most of her experiences are related from the intellect. It’s those m An unusual story with occasional bursts of wisdom. At times, the narrator, Jane, seems to rant and then she is filled with revelations on a wide range of topics. She never comes across as a stupid child but more as an ageless being who has earned her rightful place at the head of the table. It’s her job to inform the world what she’s heard and seen while in foster care and a cult. She does this with feeling, but never too much. Most of her experiences are related from the intellect. It’s those moments when she speaks directly from her heart that the story delivers. Lenore Zion serves up a unique understanding of the unsettling events in the wilderness of abandoned children.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    review to come

  3. 4 out of 5

    J. A.

    This was the latest selection of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club, and with all the talk about it, I was glad to dig in. The story is interesting for sure (a lighter, gentler version of the cult focus of someone like Brian Evenson), but I think the novel could have benefited from a tighter edit. There are sentences which seem unnecessarily cumbersome, and patches of vocabulary strangely standing out. Maybe it's just the editor in us though, or our taste in style. Maybe. Ah well, not all of them This was the latest selection of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club, and with all the talk about it, I was glad to dig in. The story is interesting for sure (a lighter, gentler version of the cult focus of someone like Brian Evenson), but I think the novel could have benefited from a tighter edit. There are sentences which seem unnecessarily cumbersome, and patches of vocabulary strangely standing out. Maybe it's just the editor in us though, or our taste in style. Maybe. Ah well, not all of them can be absolute winners.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anita Dalton

    The cover of this book drew me in. A white little girl – white skin, white underwear, long blonde hair – is standing behind a rope in a ragged backyard in late fall, or early winter. The look on her face is unfathomable to me, but the confrontation is undeniable. She is standing there, in her socks and underwear, unprotected in the wind, literally holding on by a string, and staring at you, the reader. Her expression could be anything from veiled disgust to melancholy to vague interest in the ca The cover of this book drew me in. A white little girl – white skin, white underwear, long blonde hair – is standing behind a rope in a ragged backyard in late fall, or early winter. The look on her face is unfathomable to me, but the confrontation is undeniable. She is standing there, in her socks and underwear, unprotected in the wind, literally holding on by a string, and staring at you, the reader. Her expression could be anything from veiled disgust to melancholy to vague interest in the camera as a break in the bleak boredom of the landscape. This book, at turns neurotic and gross, touching and funny, is strangely grounded by this cover. This book has a strange, over-the-top cult that engages in really nasty rituals. The heroine of the book is hilarious and neurotic. The plot-line gets loose at times and the strange wackiness of the book can occasionally make the reader forget that at its heart this is still a book about a little girl whose mother is dead, whose father is in a mental institution, who ends up in foster care in the home of cultists who marry her off to an old man in a scenario reminiscent of so many stories that came out of the FLDS sects. Zion handles all of this heaviness with a humor and open-minded acceptance of the bizarre, but the cover ensures you remember a smart little girl in a forsaken place is at the center of the story. Outside of House of Leaves, I can can’t recall a time when a book’s cover ensures you don’t miss some of the most important details of the book. The girl on the cover helps you remember that this is a very upsetting book, even as you find the prose quite amusing at times. Quick synopsis: Jane’s mother is dead and her father had a breakdown. He attempted suicide and becomes up a long-term resident in a mental hospital. Jane is sent to live in foster care and ends up living with a family indoctrinated into the fictional Second Day Believers, a strange cult that merges properties of Scientology (weird ideas about mental illness and its treatment), FLDS (marrying young girls off to older men powerful in the cult) and a very gross, borderline pagan attraction to animal entrails. Jane becomes close to her foster brother, Isaac, and their relationship takes a dark turn as Isaac becomes rather unhinged himself, a young proxy in Jane’s affection for her unbalanced father. Jane eventually becomes far more valuable to the cult than the cult is to her but her love of Isaac keeps her from leaving the madness until Isaac forces the issue in an act of numb but horrifying violence. You can read my entire discussion here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Young

    Holy shit.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Wilner

    My notice, for Zyzzyva magazine, follows below: http://www.zyzzyva.org/2013/02/27/a-g... My notice, for Zyzzyva magazine, follows below: http://www.zyzzyva.org/2013/02/27/a-g...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristopher

    Death is inescapable; It’s all around us, no matter where we are, no matter what we do. How we perceive it though, is up to us. Following Jane through to her journey of adolescence; the failed suicide attempt of her father, and then foster-care, her life is full of colour. It’s always interesting to see how a person can lose absolutely everything and then begin to rebuild themselves from the ground up. Some will give up and collapse, others will build themselves stronger. Of course, the Second Day B Death is inescapable; It’s all around us, no matter where we are, no matter what we do. How we perceive it though, is up to us. Following Jane through to her journey of adolescence; the failed suicide attempt of her father, and then foster-care, her life is full of colour. It’s always interesting to see how a person can lose absolutely everything and then begin to rebuild themselves from the ground up. Some will give up and collapse, others will build themselves stronger. Of course, the Second Day Believers will claim that their goal is to help Jane, but ultimately it’s up to her how she responses to their beliefs if she even agrees in the first place. Fostering a new adventure The majority of the fun comes from her carers, who just so happen to be Second Day Believers, a cult that focuses on cleansing its children of all their mental impurities. One of their methods includes re-birthing the children out of a dead cow, for them to take on their own spirit animal. Jane’s (a bob-cat), by coincidence, is the same as the groups’ elderly leader, which is only the start of their similarities. Is Jane the leader reborn? Will she lead the Second Day Believers forward in the name of their religion? Does she care? Any man wearing a badge on his chest boasting one particular quality or value is a man who is hiding ten other qualities and values he didn’t see fit to pin to his lapel. - Lenore Zion, Stupid Children Her new parents, Connie and Martin (Madame and Sir Six) are eccentric in both their ways and beliefs. They certainly have their own methods when it comes to raising children within the community. These new ideas are what test Jane’s way of thinking, especially concerning her deeper introspections on death. Speaking of inward death, it’s a common theme running throughout Stupid Children. Where ever Jane goes, death seems to follow, and from a young and impressionable age, it’s easy for her to concede that it’s her fault. However, a lot of it’s either life taking its natural tole or unfortunate events. When she’s still young, her father buys her a hedgehog to help her deal with the death of her mother, as well as understand further the passing of living creatures; as eventually she’ll have to deal with the hedgehog’s death. Unfortunately, Bushpig the hedgehog dies after six months; voiding its bowels all over its cage. Jane starts to wonder if this is the same way in which her Mother died – One big final mess for somebody else to clean up. She adopts a strong adult voice throughout the book, which comes from the fact that she’s almost had to parent her own father since the death of her mother. He’s struggled with life since, constantly turning to Jane for reassurance and stability. These comparisons show excellent introspection from Zion, bringing together the corresponding links between the death of a loved one, and the unanswered questions that follow. While on the subject of Zion, she has a doctorate in psychology, specialising in sexual pathology. This definitely shines through in the book. Topics of learned helplessness and a mother’s role are also touched upon throughout. Surrealist Acid Dreams What sets this book apart from others is the surrealist nature of the cult, much like the Binewski family in Geek Love. This permits the reader a chance to take in the whole thing with a pinch of salt, not taking it all too seriously. A perfect example is the barn scene towards the end. Jane wakes from a manger, housed in a pink bedroom that’s surrounded by barbed wire. She’s visited by a gentleman in a wheelchair, known as Sir One, who’s accompanied by two women, both of whom are wearing clothes of, ‘a preacher from the early 1900’s.’ The absurdity is played entirely tongue-in-cheek, but you can’t help but enjoy how the environments, along with the characters inhabiting it, unfold. Closing Thoughts Stupid Children is an excellent illusionary trip through the distorted confides of a sectarian cult. With surreal imagery, matched with philosophical musings that tip the scales well into the balance of exciting, the book is both pungent and wild. Given that the book is only 150 pages long, it’s short, punchy, and definitely worth your time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Travis Fortney

    My review from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, which you can find here: http://bit.ly/XS0IkU -- This is the second just-released bizarro novel about a cult that I have read and reviewed this week, and I would urge readers who are curious about Lenore Zion's Stupid Children to instead purchase Fiona Maazel's Woke Up Lonely, which I had my reservations about but is the far superior novel of the two. Readers who have read Ms. Maazel's novel and are looking for something in a simila My review from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, which you can find here: http://bit.ly/XS0IkU -- This is the second just-released bizarro novel about a cult that I have read and reviewed this week, and I would urge readers who are curious about Lenore Zion's Stupid Children to instead purchase Fiona Maazel's Woke Up Lonely, which I had my reservations about but is the far superior novel of the two. Readers who have read Ms. Maazel's novel and are looking for something in a similar vein, I would advise to look elsewhere or broaden their horizons. The main problem with Stupid Children--not that there aren't many, many problems with the book's concept plot and characters--is loose writing and poor editing. To choose a passage at random from the beginning of the book, take the following: "My father had a problem with insomnia for many years--specifically through the years during which I was preparing to break into early adolescence." The most glaring problem with that sentence is that there are many ways to say the same thing in far fewer words. For example: "When I was a preteen, my father had a problem with insomnia." Or, more simply: "My father was an insomniac." After all, at that point in the book we already know the narrator's approximate age. Not to be too blunt, but a large part of a writer's work is deciding when to use five words and when to use fourteen. Even worse, the above sentence is directly followed by this: "I was seven, eight, nine years old, and he came into my bedroom in the middle of the night to shake me awake." Which conveys, again, the narrator's age and the fact that her father is awake in the night, along with the new information that he wakes her. So, really, the first sentence could be cut altogether. If it seems like I'm making an argument for a certain kind of minimalism, I'm not. With the first sentence, gone, the writer could use the opportunity to fill the space with an interesting detail that might pull us deeper into the story. For example: "When I was in the third grade, my insomniac father would come into my bedroom bristly-necked and smelling of blackberries and kneel beside me until I woke." Not a perfect sentence maybe--certainly there are more interesting details available--but it accomplishes what the other two sentences do in approximately half the space, is more specific, and provides an interesting detail. It draws the reader into the scene rather than killing story's momentum by drawing attention to the negative qualities of the writing itself. I wouldn't usually pick apart a pair of sentences like that, but the writing really is the problem with Stupid Children, and sadly, those sentences aren't among the worst in the book. A book this short shouldn't feel so long and cumbersome. I know that there's been a certain amount of positive chatter around this book in the form of reviews at a few websites, a spot on a certain book club, and blurbs by well-known established authors. If you already own a copy of Stupid Children because of this, cheer up, because reading it could prove to be an important event in your life as a reader--I promise you, you'll never again mistake a little generated buzz for the real thing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    This was a book that kept me reading well into the early morning. Typically that is a good sign. This a book that contains some dark subject matter (which may be an understatement, depending on who you are); a girl whose father just attempted suicide is put with foster parents who are part of a cult that worships the innards of animals. Things go downhill from there. Zion does an exceptional job of developing her characters in a realistic manner; how they react to the situations they are present This was a book that kept me reading well into the early morning. Typically that is a good sign. This a book that contains some dark subject matter (which may be an understatement, depending on who you are); a girl whose father just attempted suicide is put with foster parents who are part of a cult that worships the innards of animals. Things go downhill from there. Zion does an exceptional job of developing her characters in a realistic manner; how they react to the situations they are presented with is easy to sympathize with, for the most part. Of course, this aspect of her writing could be chalked up to her background in Psychology. The only potential problem I had with the book is that it ends too quickly; the climax can be seen as rushing by after a hundred something pages of build-up. However, this does not detract from the experience. If you don't mind uncomfortable subject matter, I would definitely recommend picking up this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Clarissa

    Stupid Children is a disturbing book. So much happens to Jane in Foster Care it is hard to read. I found myself cringing as she described the "cleansing ceremony." This story is fiction but we have recently had young girls held against their will for years by a madman. Bizarre, yes! Could it really happen? Absolutely! Foster kids, runaways, missing children.....there are stories worse than this, that make the headlines, a few times each year. Parents, know where your children are and who they ar Stupid Children is a disturbing book. So much happens to Jane in Foster Care it is hard to read. I found myself cringing as she described the "cleansing ceremony." This story is fiction but we have recently had young girls held against their will for years by a madman. Bizarre, yes! Could it really happen? Absolutely! Foster kids, runaways, missing children.....there are stories worse than this, that make the headlines, a few times each year. Parents, know where your children are and who they are with!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Weird book, but weird books tend to heal my wounded inner terrain, sending me on a wild spree of improbability. The truth of my gluttony is in how I gobbled up the words in three sittings. The last time that happened was thirty-odd years ago. So I sailed the lyrical words and laughed out loud in places, not wanting the book to end. Lenore Zion is surely a wordsmith. There is a serious message in this book, underneath all the musical sentences of shock and reflection.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I really felt for Jane and her father. And I would certainly hope that the state of Florida screens foster parents better than this in real life . . . the cult was beyond bizarre, and cooked up some really grisly methods of indoctrinating their children. Amazing that any of them got out alive, with any remnants of sanity intact.

  13. 4 out of 5

    reqbat

    great concept, but messy storytelling, dropped threads- it never comes together well, which is disappointing. also, too short! trying to cram too much into 159 pages. would have done better to be double that length with a more detailed story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    A short, but powerful story of a girl trapped in a cult by the foster system.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    I can safely safe that I have never, once, read anything like "Stupid Children" before, and that alone is worthy of praise as it's quite hard to find something one can call wholly original these days. Somehow telling a complete, comprehensive story in just under 200 pages with almost no dialogue is quite a feat, and Lenore Zion managed to pull it off. "Stupid Children" follows a young girl named Jane who goes into foster care after her father attempts to slit his throat, and is tossed into a new I can safely safe that I have never, once, read anything like "Stupid Children" before, and that alone is worthy of praise as it's quite hard to find something one can call wholly original these days. Somehow telling a complete, comprehensive story in just under 200 pages with almost no dialogue is quite a feat, and Lenore Zion managed to pull it off. "Stupid Children" follows a young girl named Jane who goes into foster care after her father attempts to slit his throat, and is tossed into a new family, who just so happen to be part of a cult called The Second Day Believers. After some time in the cult, and some unfortunate coincidental choices, they decide she's the reincarnation of their leaders dead wife. Filled with gruesome imagery, Zion gives any horror movie a run for its money. From (view spoiler)[ pulling the stitches out of her arm (hide spoiler)] to (view spoiler)[ forcing her to be 'reborn' after forcing her inside the stomach of a cows corpse (hide spoiler)] , the book is quite graphic and yet hilarious at the same time. Unlike most psychologists who end up writing fiction, Zion doesn't hide the crazy, but instead lets it sit right out there in plain view, for all to see, and it's all the more glorious for it. Playing fast and loose with time, quickly running through Jane's youth and even jumping ahead in time every now and then (view spoiler)[ for short discussions regarding Jane and her therapist (hide spoiler)] or the end of the book (view spoiler)[ where she discusses her time with her father after finally being 'rescued' from the cult (hide spoiler)] . "Stupid Children" abides by almost none of the 'rules' we've decided literature depends on, instead chucking them out and favoring its own brand of rules, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Clocking in at around 180 pages, the book is a quick read, despite being full to the brim with content, including moments that made me actually laugh out loud. While she has written a book of essays and a handful of articles here and there, this is the only novel Zion has written, and if it ends up being the only thing she ever writes in this fashion, then it will stand as a triumphant 'fuck you' to standard literature. Not only is it one of the best books I've read, but it's the sort of book that makes me want to try and be a better writer. The only thing wrong with Lenore Zion's writing is that she doesn't have more to read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alma Q

    3,5 stars. I will never forget that day, June 8th, I returned to my home after a day of digging through the rock bed, searching for treasure at the park, and there was my sweet father, my gentle and fragile father, sprawled across the kitchen table (the kitchen was always his favorite room in the house—he said this was because there were never any bad memories in a kitchen, only good memories) with a steady stream of blood dripping from the table’s edge, pooling in the corner of the room, draw 3,5 stars. I will never forget that day, June 8th, I returned to my home after a day of digging through the rock bed, searching for treasure at the park, and there was my sweet father, my gentle and fragile father, sprawled across the kitchen table (the kitchen was always his favorite room in the house—he said this was because there were never any bad memories in a kitchen, only good memories) with a steady stream of blood dripping from the table’s edge, pooling in the corner of the room, drawing my attention to an apparent tilt in the foundation of our house. After her father's unsuccessful suicide attempt, Jane becomes a subject to the foster care system. Suddenly it isn't her dad anymore who is to take care of her, but a bizarre cult known as 'Second Day Believers'. Jane's foster parents are called Martin (or, Sir Six in the cult) and Connie (Madam Six). Each night, Connie becomes a drooling, zombie-like monster mother. Each morning she pretends to be a responsible and caring one - she makes pancakes for breakfast and all! And when there's no fear of social workers interfering with their so-and-so idyllic life, Jane is forced to attend to Second Day school lessons and weird 'cleansing' rituals. “No,” she told me, “we’ll be cleansing your mind today.” I’d heard of physical impurities, and certainly I had witnessed with my own eyes many such impurities, given that my father tended to lean towards the dirtier side of clean, but in my ten years I had not once been educated in regards to mental impurities. --- Because I knew nothing about mental impurities, I hushed my misgivings of the methods Madam Six and the others exercised, and kept quiet as two deflated, worm-shaped balloons were systematically inserted into my nostrils–one balloon per nostril. Whilst the actions she takes might not quite meet the criteria for outright rebellious, she hasn't entirely given up. Jane still trusts her dad ("who only made a mistake" in attempting suicide) and she's determinded to find him. There is also her Second Day Believer friend, Virginia - a girl who is, in one way or another, always a part of her greatest adventures (like the LSD trip - and the other kind of trip, too). It's just difficult to escape a cult when you don't really know what's going on and why and what should be going on instead. When you're not completely alone but not capable of handling the situation, either. When your dad doesn't even write proper letters to you. Stupid Chilren has a deeply personal feel to it and it was, to my understanding, very believable, as it was easy for the reader to identify with the messed up characters that Zion writes about. The setting is interesting and not like anything I've personally came across before. I simply loved the way the characters' relationships are described in this book, and Jane's ponderings and introspection fit well to the story, too. At times she's perhaps more certain of her interpretations than she has reason to be and she can come across as childish because of that, but it all feels natural and human. It's evident that the writer knows a thing or two about human mind, and is still interested in exploring it more. Then again, sometimes I found it hard to keep track of the story because Jane uses quite a lot of words and is prone to getting sidetracked (which is, again, something I understand but found it to be a bit disturbing in a novel). Those ramblings were interesting and entertaining and whatnot but didn't really help in keeping the story together, and at the end, I'm not sure how well the actual plot worked - if there was a plot in the first place. It's as if Stupid Chilren aimed not to tell a story, but to explore the capability of humans, or perhaps it was written just to test the writer. Anyway, it may not be for the masses. If 'masses' have something against the idea of Quentin Tarantino -styled progress in the story. I personally enjoyed this novel - especially because it was so easy for me to connect with the characters and analyze what might have caused this and that (and what is this novel trying to say) - but it didn't take me to really previously unseen places or situations, despite containing some surprising moments. And, let's face it, I like it when giving up is more like a temporary solution for the characters and not the final answer to all the challenges life throws at them. Don't get me wrong, they were still lovely, and the ending was handled well even though not one of the characters seemed to be active anymore.. Also: You are dead if you are a human being attacked by a human. You are dead if you are a deer and you're being attacked by a human. You are dead if you are a human being attacked by a deer. I really think this quote captures the essence of this book rather well. I received a free copy of this book through TNBBC Giveaway. So thank you, Lori, Lenore Zion and Emergency Press! All quotes are from the book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dani (The Pluviophile Writer)

    Full review at The Pluviophile Reader: http://wp.me/p3VFNP-3m 4/5 stars. ebook, 176 pages. Read from March 09 to 12, 2014. This book, if you're looking for something different, is it. Stupid Children is a dark-humoured book that focuses on the psychological traumas of a girl named Jane. After her mother died, her father was never quite the same. At a very young age her father was placed in a mental institution and she into the foster care system. Her tragedy continues as the home that she is placed Full review at The Pluviophile Reader: http://wp.me/p3VFNP-3m 4/5 stars. ebook, 176 pages. Read from March 09 to 12, 2014. This book, if you're looking for something different, is it. Stupid Children is a dark-humoured book that focuses on the psychological traumas of a girl named Jane. After her mother died, her father was never quite the same. At a very young age her father was placed in a mental institution and she into the foster care system. Her tragedy continues as the home that she is placed into is a part of a cult called the "Second Day Believers". The cult focuses on cleansing out the "mental impurities" of children and then it throws in some farm animal organs, drugs, sex and a weird ranking system of its members. The book is written from the perspective of Jane as an adult, accounting her experiences and relationships to a psychologist and as well to the reader. This unique psychologist-narrative provides a potent perspective and, based on the mixed reviews this book has received, didn't work for every reader. I felt however, that the style was pulled off very well. Fast paced and quirky, the story focus on how non-nonchalantly Jane discusses her not-so-normal upbringing, the experiences she gets into with her friends and father-daughter relationships. The characters are immensely likeable. There are some scenes that are so well described in the book that at first glance may not be directly related to the story but they allow the reader to gain entry into the emotional state of the characters. There are some amazing scenes that really give the reader a full extent of some of the psychological damage Jane endures and how she handles it. The scenes aren't funny and they're not tragic but they're very raw. I really couldn't put this book down and I can say that it's been the best read of 2014 for me so far. I actually had the privilege of participating in an author/reader discussion with Lenore Zion on this book. What I was able to learn is that Lenore herself is a psychologist and her influences for the book came from her dreams and a desire to let readers know what it's like to be a therapist in a way. "The influence came from my dreams. I have a very rich dream world (and fantasy world) and I've been keeping a dream journal for years. It's a bit egomaniacal, but my unconscious is fascinating to me - as is the unconscious of all human beings. We are brilliant and bizarre creatures. I wanted to write a book that allowed the reader to feel what it is sometimes like to be a therapist. Questioning things like "why is my client smiling while telling me this horrible, traumatic memory?" and "why does my client keep coming up with rationalizations to defend her abusers?" I work with a lot of trauma in my field, so these are things I have dissected psychologically for quite some time." - Lenore Zion, in a TNBBC Author/Reader Discussion Lenore's work as a psychologist is blatant in this novel and it adds such a fantastic and unique perspective that I don't think readers will find anywhere elsewhere. A highly recommended read for those who are looking for a something a little off-beat and awesome!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Judd

    There's an image in the book I can't shake - I don't want to give away too much, but it's part of a cleansing ritual with a focus on blood and nostril. The imaginative procedure is mocked by Jane, the narrator of Stupid Children, who tells about her life after she was adopted by a cult of religious lunatics following her father's failed suicide attempt. Jane's body and mind go through a series of mutilations in the course of this wonderfully twisted novel as the narrator struggles to come to ter There's an image in the book I can't shake - I don't want to give away too much, but it's part of a cleansing ritual with a focus on blood and nostril. The imaginative procedure is mocked by Jane, the narrator of Stupid Children, who tells about her life after she was adopted by a cult of religious lunatics following her father's failed suicide attempt. Jane's body and mind go through a series of mutilations in the course of this wonderfully twisted novel as the narrator struggles to come to terms with her ascendance into a world beset by drugs, death, and sexual depravity. Zion writes in a detached, comic voice. Jane's humor reveals that the world and people in it don't impress her much, though she does have a love for her father and at least two of the other adoptees who've been taken in by the cult. The taut narrative explores the psyche of a young woman struggling with a loss of control. Her body has been taken from her. Her parents have been taken from her. Even a new religion has been foisted upon her and shoved up her nose. The glimpse into Jane's mind reveals a last refuge of an artist whose every freedom has been wrested away, and throughout the book we see countless attempts at escape. Who doesn't remember that childhood desire - the need to shake free juxtaposed with the awful anxiety that there's nowhere to escape to? Stupid Children reads fast, and it's a fiercely intelligent book from a brilliant writer. I look forward to seeing where her art goes from here.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rosanna

    This book was original and the psychological insight into the characters was realistic and refreshing—no doubt her background in psychology contributes to this. However, the story itself was grim, depressing, and weird. Now don't get me wrong, I love stories and events that go beyond the norm and violate expectations. Life would be a very boring place indeed without uniqueness and imagination, and I wouldn't be a fan of Murakami if I couldn't handle the fantastical and bizarre. Stupid Children, This book was original and the psychological insight into the characters was realistic and refreshing—no doubt her background in psychology contributes to this. However, the story itself was grim, depressing, and weird. Now don't get me wrong, I love stories and events that go beyond the norm and violate expectations. Life would be a very boring place indeed without uniqueness and imagination, and I wouldn't be a fan of Murakami if I couldn't handle the fantastical and bizarre. Stupid Children, however, seems to be written to emphasize the weird for the sake of being weird; I gather this from reading the book, but also by participating in the author-reader discussion on The Next Best Book club. The book was extremely depressing; it dealt with suicide, lunacy, sexual abuse, drug addiction, physical abuse, cults, death, self harm, need I continue . . . After reading it I'm not sure what the author was trying to convey, besides the fact that people can be brainwashed into a cult mentality, especially if exposed at a young age. The ending was too abrupt for my liking. I do give credit to her creativity and style, but I think she got carried away in trying to emphasize the weirdness and horror without any clear direction or meaning.

  20. 4 out of 5

    KB

    I received a copy of this book through a GoodReads book club giveaway in exchange for reading and discussing the book in that group's discussion thread with the author. It seemed like an interesting premise and I'm usually up for something new. While there were some fascinating sections and some great turns of phrase, I was left feeling ... meh ... ambivalent. It felt as if it were written from the perspective of the main character writing out her life's experiences in a journal for her therapist I received a copy of this book through a GoodReads book club giveaway in exchange for reading and discussing the book in that group's discussion thread with the author. It seemed like an interesting premise and I'm usually up for something new. While there were some fascinating sections and some great turns of phrase, I was left feeling ... meh ... ambivalent. It felt as if it were written from the perspective of the main character writing out her life's experiences in a journal for her therapist — distanced and numbed. Some details, which may have actually been important, seemed to be glossed over ... written dismissively. I'm not entirely how I feel about it, about the ending, but it's challenging me to continue pondering it, which some say makes good literature.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    When I was 10, my parents got really into church. My dad started teaching Sunday school, driving the church bus, and worked with teenagers on Wednesday nights. During that time, there was a book fair at school and I purchased a few things. When I showed my dad my purchases, he became very angry because one of the books was from a publisher that "published cult materials." He made me take them back the next day. What does this have to do with "Stupid Children"....nothing. Anything about a religiou When I was 10, my parents got really into church. My dad started teaching Sunday school, driving the church bus, and worked with teenagers on Wednesday nights. During that time, there was a book fair at school and I purchased a few things. When I showed my dad my purchases, he became very angry because one of the books was from a publisher that "published cult materials." He made me take them back the next day. What does this have to do with "Stupid Children"....nothing. Anything about a religious cult reminds me of that time. This book is terrifying in the best sort of way. While there were details that I wanted more of and time passed very quickly, it was the right amount of horror that one is looking for in a book about a cult.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    To say this book is bizarre is an understatement. It is depressing (I dreamed about it a lot) but it is also hopeful in a we -can-survive-anything kind of way. The story is about a young girl who is put into foster care after her father tries to commit suicide. He is sent to an insane asylum and she is sent to live with a cult. Life is the cult is brutal and dehumanizing, although, as the reader, we are spared nearly all details. The young girl is the narrator of her own story and she has a wond To say this book is bizarre is an understatement. It is depressing (I dreamed about it a lot) but it is also hopeful in a we -can-survive-anything kind of way. The story is about a young girl who is put into foster care after her father tries to commit suicide. He is sent to an insane asylum and she is sent to live with a cult. Life is the cult is brutal and dehumanizing, although, as the reader, we are spared nearly all details. The young girl is the narrator of her own story and she has a wonderful grasp of the English language, so there is almost a light hearted quality to the way the story is told. As I said, it is a bizarre book!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This was just... weird. The writing is dry and sparse. Characters are all lacking in emotion even though the subject matter is very emotional. The cult is ridiculously confusing. I was also a bit annoyed that the West Memphis 3 was classified as a cult by the main character. I get an opportunity for discussion with the author so maybe I'll get more of her perspective. Right now, not really sold on Stupid Children. This was just... weird. The writing is dry and sparse. Characters are all lacking in emotion even though the subject matter is very emotional. The cult is ridiculously confusing. I was also a bit annoyed that the West Memphis 3 was classified as a cult by the main character. I get an opportunity for discussion with the author so maybe I'll get more of her perspective. Right now, not really sold on Stupid Children.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Dominguez

    I found this book to be orgasmically life changing in a way I never knew possible. I felt myself rappelling into the depths of the author's psyche which so honestly exposed, with morbid humor, the darker aspects of the human condition that most of us are too afraid to admit. I found this book to be orgasmically life changing in a way I never knew possible. I felt myself rappelling into the depths of the author's psyche which so honestly exposed, with morbid humor, the darker aspects of the human condition that most of us are too afraid to admit.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caty

    If this is memoir, it's revelatory and shocking without quite being sensationalistic and exploitative. If it's fiction, I'm not quite comfortable with the morbid mind which must have birthed it, nor am I sure about why they felt the need to write it in the first place. If this is memoir, it's revelatory and shocking without quite being sensationalistic and exploitative. If it's fiction, I'm not quite comfortable with the morbid mind which must have birthed it, nor am I sure about why they felt the need to write it in the first place.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joe English

    Disturbing, but in a good way. Nearly every chapter ends with a "wow!" moment (and the chapters are short, so there are a lot of wow! moments in this book). Looking forward to reading more from this author. Disturbing, but in a good way. Nearly every chapter ends with a "wow!" moment (and the chapters are short, so there are a lot of wow! moments in this book). Looking forward to reading more from this author.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie Christiansen

    Weird...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Countchaos666

    Lenore Zion has that wonderful ability to be simultaneously funny and disturbing. The world and the scenes within it that she creates are vivid, dark, and compelling. Very cool book!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Parker

    I'd read Lenore's grocery list, if she made one, which I doubt. I'd read Lenore's grocery list, if she made one, which I doubt.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Lost interest in this when I discovered it was fiction.

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