Pearl by Jo Knowles is a hard book for me to review, because honestly, I didn't feel much while reading it, and there's just... not much to it. It's not a bad book, but it's not really a good one either.
Pearl (aka Bean) and Henry are best friends (well, only friends, really). They've always lived near each other, both understand and love each other (and is it going to be love too?!?!) and they both have mommy/daddy issues. Henry's mom hasn't left the house in years and is still stuck on the fact that her husband walked out on her and Bean's mom is often drunk or ranting to her best friend about her dad, whom Bean and her mom live with, because Dad has never been part of the picture.
If I remember right, fantasies about their fathers are what initially really bonded Henry and Bean. They use to imagine what their fathers must really be like, what life would be like if they hadn't left, and they created these elaborate justifications for why such a good man would walk away from his family. But they are solid friends, always there for each other and willing to offer whatever support and love is necessary. And after Bean's grandfather dies, she needs a lot of support, especially when secrets start spilling out of the woodwork.
Honestly, this is not a novel I can imagine recommending to very many people. There's nothing overtly wrong with the book, but there isn't a whole lot going right either. The characters are a bit flat, the story line becomes predictable in it's SHOCKness and the secrets that start to come out after the death of Grandfather Gus feel barely better than a gimmick.
The way the story is told, most of the real meat of the story is so wrapped up in secrets that you can't really talk about anything without some serious spoilers. And sometimes, that works amazingly well for a story. But other times, like here, it makes things too muddy and unbelievable, leaving the reader scratching their heads saying, really? You had to do that too? And while some of the character reaction to the new information is incredibly believable and realistic, some of it is not. I had a hard time believing a lot of what was going on in the story, but more than anything else, I just didn't care.
And that, more than anything else says a lot about this book. Nothing made me care, nothing affected me emotionally, or really captivated me. It's (thankfully) a really short book, so it didn't take long at all, but the book fell short for me on a number of levels. I can see where some people might like this one a lot more than I did, and I hope that those people find it. But for anyone new to Contemporary, or not sure if it's really the right genre for you, I'd recommend either giving this one a pass altogether, or setting it on the back burner until you have more Contemporary under your belt.
*Disclaimer: I received this book through Banned Book Tours.