Kirstin Allio; BUDDHISM FOR WESTERN CHILDREN; University of Iowa Press (Fiction: Literary) 17.00 ISBN: 9781609385965
Byline: Laura Leavitt
Buddhism for Western Children is a dreamlike literary novel that journeys into the psyche of cult living from the perspective of a child.
Daniel's parents, Ray and Cleary, bring him to Avadhoot Master King Ivanovich's farm in Maine when he's ten. They're seeking greater meaning in their lives through devotion to Ivanovich -- also called the Guru -- who is said to be a god in human form.
Daniel is singled out and renamed Jubal. He eventually leaves the cult and spends the rest of his life learning to cope with what he's seen and lived through, spending time in therapy to deal with the cult's child abuse and strange practices.
A critique of blind religiosity, powerful isolated leaders, and idealized Western versions of Eastern mysticism emerges from the glancing, jumpy prose. Characters like the Guru's lieutenant and nine wives are deftly described in vignette-like appearances. Jubal's front-row seat to the intimate and secretive behaviors of the Guru and his devotees yields an excellent, revealing perspective. His...