Tuesday, 3 April 2018 / No comments

P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones

Title: P is for Pearl
Author: Eliza Henry Jones
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date of Publication: 19th February 2018
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher


From the talented author of the celebrated novels In the Quiet and Ache comes a poignant and moving book that explores the stories we tell ourselves about our families, and what it means to belong. 

Seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn P. Pearson has become very good at not thinking about the awful things that have happened to her family. She has also become used to people talking about her dead mum. Or not talking about her and just looking at Gwen sympathetically. And it's easy not to think about awful things when there are wild beaches to run along, best friends Loretta and Gordon to hang out with - and a stepbrother to take revenge on. 

But following a strange disturbance at the cafe where she works, Gwen is forced to confront what happened to her family all those years ago. And she slowly comes to realise that people aren't as they first appear and that like her, everyone has a story to tell.


Jones' books have a common theme - grief, loss and family. P is for Pearl is no exception. 

17 year old Gwen lives in a small town on the Tasmanian coast. She has a running feud with her step-brother, and both loves and is exasperated by her young half-sister. Her dad and her step-mum are present and involved in her life, but none of this can make up for the absence of her mother, who died when she was young in circumstances Gwen still doesn't really understand. With her friends Loretta and Gordon she's navigating the same issues as most people her age - managing an after school job while studying for exams and deciding what to do with the rest of her life. But when someone throws a table through the window of the cafe she works at, it brings back memories of life with her mother that she's not quite ready to deal with.

Jones' writing style is so beautiful. The town and its inhabitants are lovingly rendered, from Martin, the grumpy cop with a soft spot for Gwen, to Glen the grocer, who inflicts vegetables on those he feels are in need. The teenage supporting characters are so well developed that each could have been the protagonist of their own story. 

This is very much a character driven story, as Gwen discovers the truth about her mother's life and death, and tries to deal with the revelations while also making decisions about the rest of her life.

A stunning and moving YA debut from an author who is now firmly on my must-read list.

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