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Woven in and around these two central love stories are myriad other characters, other tales. There is 16-year-old Joleb Green, for example, whose mother was incapacitated by a stroke when he was born, and who was raised by the black housekeeper, Grace. There is Even's friend Canaan, an older black man who spends his time reading Greek tragedy and writing his work "The Reality of the Negro"; Valuable's mother, Enid, the town whore; and Neva and Bea, a lesbian couple who have helped to raise the girl. Until this year, blacks and whites have occupied separate universes, for the most part; then Joleb Green suffers a terrible accident, and it is Joody Two Sun who saves his life and Grace who restores his soul. At the same time, a pregnant Val arrives on Joody and Even's doorstep, hungry for the understanding and acceptance she cannot find at home. Though at first Even is resistant, Val's humanity soon transcends her color in his mind:
Even chuckled and shook his head, happy for a reason he couldn't distinguish other than at that moment of Canaan's near-perfect cast, all seemed right with the world, as right as a thing can be what with a white girl camped out in the middle of the Quarter with no plans of leaving.Gradually, without really intending it, Joleb, Val, Even, Joody, Grace, and Canaan form something that looks suspiciously like a family--a relationship that will soon be tested to the limit when Val's baby is born.
Melinda Haynes has taken on a Herculean task, crafting a multicharacter story that reaches across racial barriers to encompass an entire community. She doesn't shy away from the ugliness in life--bigotry of every stripe, mean-spiritedness, betrayal, thoughtless cruelty, and death--but what interests her is the potential of the human heart to find space within itself for the most unexpected people. With its strong, lyrical language and fully realized characters, Mother of Pearl is a fine novel and a terrific introduction to a new literary voice. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I should have given up on this book early on but I stubbornly stuck with it. The story did get a little better...but I still feel as though I wasted my time.Published on May 28 2004
MOTHER OF PEARL is a novel about the truths of life and love. Set in Petal, Mississippi in the summer of 1956, Haynes opens her story with a vague description of the initial... Read morePublished on May 17 2004 by Anna Smith
This book is a very slow read. It takes quite a while for the book to grab the reader, then its still moves pretty slowly. Read morePublished on March 19 2004 by Kim M
Oprah picked it, and so do millions of others because this powerful debut novel captivates with its truth. Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2004 by Gail Cooke
Like a typewriter stuck on one letter, this book is full of similes. As repetitive as a woodpecker working on an old oaken log, this book is full of similes. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2004 by "piedmontnc"
I adored the prose-like writing of this book. It was beautifully descriptive. The tea-colored water, the old worn sign whose purpose had been forgotten... Read morePublished on April 4 2003 by Nicole Laflamme
This book was very different from all the other books I have read before. It told a couple stories at once and it got very confusing to follow at first but then once i got used to... Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2003 by Christina
I am shocked by some of the bad reviews this book received. I thought it was outstanding. It is beautifully written. The characters are diverse, magical and thoughtfully crafted. Read morePublished on Oct. 11 2002 by E. Eig