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. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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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