Millet’s novels wear their darkness lightly. She is just so funny, her observations are so sharp, and her details so absurd, that one can almost forget the fundamental seriousness of her themes. Her stories often consider our solipsism and short-sightedness, the deviousness of politicians and the destruction of our planet. But please don’t be daunted by this grim list. Ms. Millet does not sermonize. Even at its gloomiest, her fiction is a pleasure ... It is a good thing Ms. Millet is so prolific, as her amusing portraits of human error seem terribly attuned to this disconcerting moment ... This book’s timeliness is almost eerie ... Part allegory, part adventure story, this fast-paced book manages to find the humor in an apocalypse. The chuckles are frequent but subtle ... This is not an optimistic book, but it is not without hope. Ms. Millet sees some potential in the clear-eyed urgency of young people, who are right to question the self-serving pragmatism of their elders. She also finds something meaningful in the impulse to make things, and the role art can play in capturing and clarifying the splendor and drama of this world. With this slim yet potent book, she shows it is even possible to coax pleasure and beauty from the uncomfortable work of highlighting unfortunate truths.
A Children’s Bible is most successful when read as a parable ... But if it’s a parable, it’s deadpan-funny, told in the first person by Eve, a youngish adolescent, in an economical, spot-on snarky voice ... this is very much a novel for our times. The Greta Thunberg-type anger and disdain the children have for the adults is rooted in pressing concern about climate change and the catastrophe that will arrive unless grown-ups act with grown-up urgency about the degradation of the environment ... In A Children’s Bible, Lydia Millet has given us a compellingly written, compact, slyly funny novel that warns of the catastrophic events that may very well overwhelm us. Unless.
For a while the novel sustains a deceptively timeless, children’s-treasury vibe ... The setting—a massive summer house, with multiple families vacationing in it—calls to mind that of Susan Minot’s novel Monkeys turned to account as metaphor ... There’s a birth in a barn, a plague, a Moses, a Cain and an Abel, even a crucifixion. But part of the novel’s genius is that these allusions never really lead anywhere ... The allusions aren’t symbols or clues; they’re just faint echoes, like puzzle pieces too few to fit together ... With brilliant restraint, Millet conceives her own low-key 'bible' ... It’s a tale in which whoever or whatever comes after us might recognize, however imperfectly, a certain continuity: an exotic but still decodable shred of evidence from the lost world that is the world we are living in right now.