BOOK CLUB: P is for Pearl

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Author: Eliza Henry Jones
ISBN: 978-1-4607-5493-1
RRP: $19.99
Publisher: Harper Collins
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Eliza Henry Jones is a young Australian author who has been featured on Beauty and Lace book club lists since her debut in 2015 and I’m sure will continue to be featured as long as I can swing it. P is for Pearl is her third novel and the first for the young adult market.

P is for Pearl is the third published novel by Jones but this is a story that she wrote much earlier and never submitted, it was tucked away until years later when she gave the manuscript drawer another read through. Originally written by a sixteen year old I think the voice will resonate with younger readers but I think there is also a lot to enjoy in the sensitively written story for readers of all ages.

Gwendolyn P. Pearson has been through a lot in her seventeen years but she’s mastered the art of just getting on with it. She lives in a small coastal Tasmanian town where everyone knows the history of her family and she’s used to it. We meet Gwendolyn while she’s working a shfit at the local café one night, the night the windows get broken and all her memories start to return.

The story is told in the first person by Gwendolyn and includes her diary entries scattered between chapters. It took me a while to get my head around the diary entries, for a while I thought they were old entries but I think it was more that they are current entries in which Gwendolyn is capturing her memories and her dreams of the past.

There is so very much to love and to say about this book and it’s late and I’m tired and I have no idea where to start. I love the way that it all unfolded and we slowly learned all the pieces of the puzzle, and in the end it really was a puzzle, and it all came together just beautifully except that when I think about it I still have one big question that was left unanswered, or maybe it wasn’t…

I love the way that Gwendolyn has this picture in her head of the way things were through her childhood eyes and as she gets older and experiences more, and learns more the reader starts to see a different picture than the one she’s holding onto yet Gwendolyn refuses to budge from what’s in her mind’s eye. The blurbs for this one are all pretty ambiguous so I want to be careful not to say too much.

P is for Pearl is an insightful and sensitive look at grief, of the way in which it hits in waves that ripple through the years and sometimes when you least expect it the tide will crest and the wave that hits is much larger than expected, a wave that brings back all you have closed yourself off from and opens doors to memories you didn’t know you had forgotten. The association game that plays out in your head and your heart is one that can’t always be predicted and sometimes the perspective of time will paint your memories in a completely different light.

The story touches on so many aspects of adolescent life from school yard issues, blended families, love, loss, crushes, friendship and the intricate minefield of sibling relationships – both blood and by marriage.

There were a few interesting relationships to watch in P is for Pearl but I think the one I enjoyed the most was between Gwendolyn and her older stepbrother Tyrone. They share a very antagonistic relationship which they both see to thrive on but when times are the toughest there is a completely different side of this story to be seen.

Grief played a big part in this story, and the way in which time changes perspective but there is also that element of a slowly unfolding extra element to the story which culminated in a much bigger picture than the one Gwendolyn grew up with.

Jones explores grief, mental illness, loss and love in a voice that is tender and sensitive while also encompassing echoes of there being something more, something intangible to hold onto when it seems that everything has slipped away.

Themes of grief run through all of Jones’s novels to date and she writes them so beautifully, always with a note of hope that things will one day be better. She certainly knows how to tug the heartstrings and not always with heartbreak but sometimes with empathy, with a ray of hope for happiness to return and with contentment that peace is within reach.

P is for Pearl is a story that I really enjoyed, and I think it is definitely worth a read for younger audiences. The Harper website says from 14 years and I can think of a few in the age group that might enjoy it. I think this will appeal to a wide range of readers and I look forward to hearing what our readers think.

P is for Pearl is book #10 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

You can find Eliza on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

P is for Pearl is available now through Harper Collins, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson Bookworld and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harper Collins 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club members are going to be reading P is for Pearl so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

15 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: P is for Pearl

  1. I read Eliza Henry Jones’ first novel, “In the Quiet” through the Beauty and Lace bookclub in 2015. I still recommend it to others as one of the best books I’ve read; given I read hundreds of books a year, it takes something special to stick with me that long. So I was anticipating “P is for Pearl” with enthusiasm.

    I was not disappointed. This is a young adult book that deals with difficult issues in a sensitive and moving way, and which acknowledges that late adolescence is a difficult time all by itself. However, the main focus is on grief and loss, and to a lesser extent mental illness and change.

    Gwen is 17, and has no idea who she wants to be when she grows up, or even what she wants to study when high school is over. Sometimes Gwen thinks she is only good at blocking things out: what happened to her mother and younger brother, the way people tiptoe around her, her step-mother’s questions, her step-brother’s awful behaviour, just how attracted she is to the cute new boy…

    But one day a disturbance at the cafe where she works also disturbs Gwen’s facade. All of a sudden she can’t stop thinking about the things she’s gotten so good at blocking out. It feels like she’s falling apart, but putting herself together again might mean she has to “look” at some things she’d really rather not.

    Grief is perhaps one of the most complex emotions, and here it is sensitively examined – the novel doesn’t wallow, but nor does it look away from Gwen’s grief. Gwen is a vivid character, as are her friends. Their dialogue was very real – a bit snappy, a bit ordinary, a bit repetitive. The way real teenagers talk. Most teenagers would find them very relatable.

    This is a very moving novel, unflinching but also gentle. Although aimed at young adults, it’s also enjoyable and relevant for adult readers. It’s another novel that I think I will be recommending widely for years to come.

  2. Eliza Henry Jones has done a fantastic job at writing a great novel aimed at young adults but even myself as a adult enjoyed it thoroughly.

    The story follows Gwen, a 17 year old teenager trying to figure her life out both past, present and future. The story starts off with a incident at her work which brings up a lot of her past that she hasn’t properly dealt with. It follows Gwen as she tries to deal with her past, dealing with friends and new relationships and also figuring out what she wants to do with her life. It touches on grief and shows the highs and lows of it and how it can be processed through a teenage mind.

    As well as trying to figure her life out, Gwen is trying to fit in with her step mum and step brother while also trying to figure out a way to express her feelings of past events to her dad. This I felt was done really well throughout the story and shows the struggles that teenagers can have when trying to express emotions.

    I really enjoyed this read. It is the book you want to keep reading more to find out more.

    Thank you Harper Collins and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this book.

  3. Thank you Beauty and Lave for selecting me to read P is for Pearl written by Eliza Henry Jones
    This book is aimed at young adult readers but I throughly enjoyed reading
    The story is about Gwen P Pearson a young 17 year old girl who lives in a small costal town with her father stepmother step brother and sister,
    Gwen has wonderful friends Loretta and Gordon and a new boy who arrives in town.
    Gwen and Loretta both work part time at the local cafe when one night an incident occurs ( no spoilers )
    This incident opens up old and awful memories for Gwen and she just can’t stop thinking about the tragedies in her past,
    Throughout the book readers will see diary entries from Gwen some are sad and some are happy
    Gwens teenage years are difficult she has no idea what her future might be, and her memories from a child keep playing on her mind,
    This book is beautifuly written
    I have passed this book onto my niece to read

  4. I have read Eliza Henry Jones’ previous book, Ache; it was one that I really enjoyed and I thought that it was beautifully written. I have been a follower of hers ever since then.
    P Is For Pearl is Eliza’s first Young Adult novel, written years ago but one that was never submitted as she didn’t think it was good enough.
    I’m glad that Eliza decided to revisit her manuscripts and have this published.
    The book explores the complexities of grief, mental health issues, friendships and love in a delicate and touching manner.

    The main character is Gwendolyn P. Pearson, aged 17 years-old, who lives in a small Tasmanian coastal town with her father, step-mother Biddy, step-brother Tyrone, and adorable younger step-sister Evie.
    We find out early on that she lost both her mother and younger brother Jamie, but it is unclear when and how.

    When an incident takes place at the cafe that she works at with her best friend Loretta, it triggers memories of those tragic circumstances and Gwen is forced to face what happened to her family.
    The story unravels slowly and the reader begins to piece it together bit by bit with a blend of Gwen’s diary entries which focus on past events, as well as her present-day situation.

    The cast of characters are true to life and each play an important role in the story. A few of my favourites include the local policeman,Martin, Gwen’s school friend Gordon, and both Tyrone and Evie.
    This book is ideal for teenaged readers, as it touches on many issues that they themselves may be experiencing.
    Thank you to Beauty & Lace Book Club and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read and review P Is For Pearl.

  5. P is for Pearl by Eliza Henry Jones

    Gwendolyn P Pearson is 17, and works after school in a cafe. One day an event happens there, which triggers memories from long ago, and Gwen Is forced to confront things which she has hidden for years.
    The reader learns that the loss that Gwen’s family has endured is not as she remembered it, and people aren’t as clear cut as Gwen thought they were.
    The story is interlaced with diary entries which are like flash backs to the tragedy, and these help piece together the events.
    Gwen is helped to cope by some wonderful characters in the story. Her best friends Loretta and Gordon at school, the local Policeman Martin, her Dad and step Mum Biddy, her step brother Tyrone and half sister Evie, and the new boy Ben at school, are all easy to relate to and are essential to the story line.
    The title is significant as Gwen’s second name is Pearl, and this is what her mother always called her. The events Gwen is dealing with are pulling her in two directions as both Gwen and Pearl.- events of the past, and now into the present.
    Although the book is aimed at a teenage reader, I loved it. I found it to be a sensitive story of grief and anguish, friendship and love, and how people cope to just get through things when life goes wrong.
    Eliza Henry Jones writes with a knowledge of pain, grief and loss, and the turmoil these cause. Her first book In The Quiet is one I still recommend to friends to read.

    Thank you to Beauty & Lace Book Club and Harper Collins for giving me the chance to read this powerful book.

  6. P is for Pearl

    A story beautifully written that tugs at your heart strings, makes you think a little deeper about your own losses and let’s you appreciate your friends just that bit more.

    The story of Gwen is one that takes you through stages of grief for a teenage girl and demonstrates her strength as she works through each.

    Denial is portrayed with Gwen’s inability to see her mums mental illness for what it is.
    Anger towards her family and for what she has lost in such a short amount of time.
    Bargaining which she continually does to get up each day and start again.
    Depression, beautifully written to show the deep underlying sadness of Gwen, especially through snippets of her diary and acceptance, which Gwen shows with her perseverance to look to the future and draw on life experiences to find a meaningful existence.

    Eliza Henry Jones, has written a beautiful book for young adults that treats grief and loss in a way that anyone could relate to.

    A book for young adults, but would be enjoyed by any reader. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this lovely story.

  7. Okay, being straight up, I’m a big fan of this book and I’m not even the target market here!!! Ha! So, my review will undoubtedly reflect that!!! I really do love receiving a book I perhaps wouldn’t have necessarily been drawn too and end up LOVING it and then recommending it!!!

    So, it’s been a few hours since I have put this down and what resonated with me the most was not just the story, but the authors voice, it’s real and completely relatable.

    Over the course of the week it was wonderful diving into the world of Gwendolyn, her family and friends. I found it difficult not to simply read from start to finish in one hit, but having a toddler and work sometimes doesn’t permit that luxury.

    But I can honestly say it was probably the perfect way. P is for Pearl is one of those books that you want to take time reading. It addresses issues on grief and mental illness, throw in the dynamics of family, friendships and love and you have a melting pot.

    You will hopefully discover as I did that the beauty of this novel also really does lie between the pages, it is sensitively delivered with care which only adds to its appeal.

    I will be looking up more of Eliza’s books, P is for Pearl is her first YA fiction and I’m sure it won’t be her last.

    When a YA book resonates with not just young adults… you’re onto a winner I think.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace Online & Harper Collins for the opportunity of reading P is for Pearl!!

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed P is for Pearl and have passed it on to my tween daughter to read as I enjoyed it so much. This is one of those books where I grieved a little bit when it ended as I enjoyed getting to know the characters so much that I missed them when it was over!! This book will stay with me and it is sure to be one I will happily re-read multiple times.

    Gwen is a teenage girl living in a Tasmanian Coastal Town with her Father, step mum and step brother. We learn early on that Gwen’s mum and younger brother has died but not the details. These are left to slowly unfold and be revealed as the book progresses.

    The author has crafted some wonderful, quirky, relatable and likeable characters in this book. One of the highlights of the books is exploring the complex relationships Gwen has with each of these characters.

    The key themes of the book are grief and loss, relationships, friendships and love, the things that are unspoken, growing up in a small town, mental illness and the turmoil of the teenage years.

    I enjoyed the inclusion of Gwen’s diary entries to supplement the story as a different lense to get to know Gwen and the other characters better.

    I really felt that the author captured that period in life where you reflect on your past experiences through more mature eyes and need to reassess some of your values and beliefs based on that new knowledge.

    I would highly recommend this book and thank Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review it.

  9. P is for Pearl is an exploration of grief, friendship, mental illness, family and love, a book aimed at teems but thoroughly enjoyed by this adult
    No swearing, no drugs, no sex makes it a pleasant change.

    Set on a rugged coast somewhere in Tasmania, as a Tasmanian myself I could relate, I loved the friendship between Gwen and Loretta who had known each other for ever.

    Gwen lives in a blended family with her dad and step-mum, her step-brother Tyrone and half-sister Evie. She is finally making inroads into her sadness about the loss of her younger brother and mother. But an incident at the cafe where she works, starts Gwen questioning all over again.

    And there the story unfolds
    41/2 stars for sure

  10. Although this book is aimed at a younger market I enjoyed the read. I thought Gwen had a wonderful support base around her especially her friends. The book was a great insight into mental health and how it wasn,t spoken about and left Gwen to work things out herself. I have not read this author before but will certainly look out for her other books.

  11. Thanks Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read P is for Pearl

    I quite enjoyed this book even though it is based for a younger audience & coming from a “split” family myself could relate to many of the questions Gwen had

    Gwen comes across as a strong persisent character which forms the basis for the story trying to uncover the truth I got a little niggled with the diary entries as it took my concentration from the rest of the story to read them then back to the storyline but in saying this I did enjoy the read

    Good storyline congrats to Eliza Henry Jones & thanks to Harper Collins

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed Eliza Henry Jones’ P is For Pearl, a beautifully written story exploring challenging themes of loss, love, grief, friendship and identity. I particularly enjoyed the diverse characters that Jones creates and the wild and natural Tasmanian setting which really complimented Gwen’s raw emotions.

    The gradual revealing of the events of Gwen’s past helped to keep an element of intrigue throughout the book, and really helped to hook the reader in!

    Although classed as YA fiction, I would highly recommend this book to anyone from teenagers up. I will certainly be sharing this with all my friends and family. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this little pearl!

  13. I loved this novel, set in a rugged coastal town in Tasmania. Seventeen year old Gwen runs everyday, trying hard to cope with her family’s painful past. Gwen’s dad has remarried and Gwen is now part of a blended family. This story is a easy, romantic read however there is a complexity to the characters and their relationships that I really enjoyed.

    My favourite character was Gwen’s stepbrother, Tyrone. I was particularly touched by their relationship, which at first appears simple but is much more complex.

    When two new kids come to town with their own secrets, Gwen strikes up a friendship with “handsome Ben’ that will help her uncover secrets from her past.

    This novel is sensitively written, exploring grief, friendship, mental illness, family and love. With all of this it still swells with life and energy and finishes with hope.

  14. WOW!!! P is For Pearl was enthralling and covered topics not many authors tackle. I loved this book from start to finish and the journey Gwen and her friends and family went on. Knowing what it’s like to blame someone for something you’ too young to understand I could really relate to Gwen and how she felt and why. I was amazed to read Eliza Henry Jones wrote this at the age of 16. Her portrayal of how teenagers are through their high school years was so accurate and a relief to read genuine portrayals. This book I feel isn’t just for young adults it will have you guessing from start to finish in so many ways. It’s a book about grief, loss, love, combined families, best friends, and much more. I’m so grateful I was chosen to read this book and review it, Thank You Beauty and Lace

  15. Gwendolyn P. Pearson is very good at not thinking about the horrible things that have happened to her family. And she is used to talking about them, and getting sympathy looks. However, after something occurs at the cafe where she works, and new people move to town, Gwen is forced to confront what happened to her family, and learns that everyone has a story to tell.

    At first, this book took a bit for me to get into. I was worried that I wouldn’t end up finishing it, but then I found myself getting drawn in. I found myself connecting to most of the characters, though I found myself getting frustrated with Gwen’s dad and stepmother. I just felt like they were really horrible people.

    The writing is great. I was able to feel the emotions of the characters, and whenever they were at the beach, I could feel the ocean spray on my face! I really appreciate books that allow me to feel and connect with the story.

    This is the first book by Eliza Henry Jones that I have read, and I look forward to reading more of her books!

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