Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Series: Standalone
Published: March 1st, 2016
Publisher: Skyscape
338 pages (ARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless. Unless you’re courageous. I’m not, but I’d like to be.

Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her formerly glamorous rock star mother.

This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me.

When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.

I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.

Through the friendships she forms at school—especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive—she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the decision to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother’s failures, which direction will Pearl choose?

After reading and loving Deirdre Riordan Hall’s Sugar, I was excited to read Pearl. This was a book that was full of heartache and tough subjects, but it was also beautiful, hopeful, and inspiring.

Pearl hasn’t had an easy life. As the daughter of a has-been rock star who’s more worried about her next fix than about her own daughter, Pearl has been left to fend for herself for a long time. The streets of New York City and her love of fashion are her only escapes. When she and her mother end up homeless, Pearl’s uncle steps in to deal with his sister and send Pearl to boarding school. This is the first opportunity she’s ever had to experience a somewhat normal life, and she’s determined not to mess it up.

This was a very character-driven novel, and Pearl had a great voice. She was smart, creative, observant, and she wanted so badly to find a place she belonged. She absolutely broke my heart at times. It can be hard enough to fit in and have a normal life, but when your past is as rough as hers and you’re worried that’s all you’ll ever be, or worse, that you’ll turn into the very person who made life so difficult, it can seem like a hopeless situation. She was a very real character - she made mistakes, she wanted to be loved, she had varied interests and big dreams, she was sexually active (I appreciated that, and how it was handled - it wasn’t some huge, life-changing thing, it was just a natural part of the story). I connected with her easily, and rooted for her from beginning to end, whether I wanted to give her a big hug or smack her upside the head.

The side characters in the book were equally interesting. Pearl’s new boarding school friend, Sorel, was incredibly volatile. She was like a teenage version of Pearl’s mother, which I suppose is why Pearl didn’t just write her off entirely, even though she should have because she was so toxic and treated Pearl like crap. Despite disliking Sorel and wishing Pearl would stay away from her, I understood why she didn’t, or couldn’t. On the other hand, Pearl’s roommate, Charmindy, ended up being a really great friend. They had little in common and came from completely different backgrounds, but Charmindy taught Pearl a lot about friendship, and it was a truly beautiful thing to watch. I also loved Shale, Pearl’s art teacher, and the lessons he taught her, not just about art, but about life. And then there was Grant...I didn’t think I was going to like him at first, but he grew on me and I ended up loving him. He was exactly the type of guy Pearl needed, and I enjoyed watching their relationship unfold. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t perfect, but it was realistic, which made their relationship easy to root for.

If you enjoy realistic, character-driven novels with beautiful prose and an overall hopeful message about life, love, forgiveness, and self-discovery, Pearl should be on your to-be-read list. While it deals with tough, often painful subjects, it does so in an open and honest way, and is ultimately a lovely and important coming-of-age story.

 *All quotes taken from the ARC version of Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Spark*

“My uncle doesn’t know Janet hasn’t touched a guitar for years, practically since I was born. She had me around the time when her band left the charts, when junkies traded CDs for cash, and when the sonic landscape as she’d known it became a digital blur. I was like a punctuation mark, the end.” ~ page 7

“Every day, over holiday, make sure you have a brush, a pen, or some implement in your hand, creating, without fail. The only way to get better is to do the work, daily. There are no shortcuts. Not many people realize that.” ~ page 92

“I want to cry, but I’m not sure how that will show him that I’m the rogue to all his sweetness and excellence. I want to rip open my chest and show him everything ugly and beautiful that lives there. All the hurt. All the loneliness. All my desires and dreams. I lack one thing, and that is courage.” ~ page 157

“My body strains to keep up with my mind and my mind with my body. I teeter to the edge of the roof and look down...I feel alone. I am a girl on the edge, on the edge of the past, present, and future, on the edge of love and lust, on the edge of truth and deceit. I tilt forward and back, wavering on heels and inebriation. I look down and then up. Falling is terrifying, but so is flying. A shooting star races through the sky. Just before it disappears, I make a wish and step away.” ~ page 282

“To Pearl, who, like her sisters in the ocean, is beginning to emerge as a beautiful treasure, a gift to herself and a gift to us all.” ~ page 334

Have you read Pearl? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any of Deirdre Riordan Hall's other books?

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a cover! That and your glowing review has be very interested.


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