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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book You Remember
This is a book that you will not forget. Mother of Pearl is an amazing novel that shows the differences in society circles in the south (racism and prejudice). The book is set in Petal, Mississippi. 14 year old white Valuable lives with her grandmother and has one true friend, Jackson. Valuable was abandoned as a baby by her town [prostitute] mother. For a while the...
Published on May 22 2004 by Mary Sowerwine

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3.0 out of 5 stars Pearl is a boy; his mother is a seer.....
This novel is the story of 28-yr-old Even Grade who grew up as an orphan in Mississippi and Joody, a seer, the mother of Pearl (a grey-eyed male). Opening in 1956 in the magnolia state where the two meet; ending five years later (1961) in Alabama, the cotton state, when Pearl is four and his friend Sophy Marie (named after Sophocles) is three. She's the daughter of...
Published on June 30 2004 by Betty Burks


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book You Remember, May 22 2004
By 
Mary Sowerwine (Duarte, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This is a book that you will not forget. Mother of Pearl is an amazing novel that shows the differences in society circles in the south (racism and prejudice). The book is set in Petal, Mississippi. 14 year old white Valuable lives with her grandmother and has one true friend, Jackson. Valuable was abandoned as a baby by her town [prostitute] mother. For a while the book seperates the stories of Valuable and a young black man named Even (who was orphaned as a baby) and brings their paths together in the middle of the book through Joody. Joody is considered the town's crazy woman (voodoo witch). Valuable goes to Joody to try and find out about herself. Even falls in love with Joody. When Valuable's grandmother dies her mother comes back and makes her life miserable. Valuable falls in love with Jackson (who we find out is her half-brother, but neither Valuable or Jackson know their father is the same man). Valuable becomes pregnant and Jackson's family moves him far away. Valuable has no contact with him and can't tell him that she's pregnant. Valuable comes to love and depend on her gay aunt, Even, Joody, Grace, and Jackson's best friend. During the birth Valuable has complications and dies. Even takes the baby as his own to raise because he can't make the baby an orphan, because of his own past. Jackson learns that Valuable is dead when he returns to see her with flowers in hand only to be forced to read her tombstone. This book shows that love and friendship really do conquer all. This is an unforgetable read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pearl is a boy; his mother is a seer....., June 30 2004
This novel is the story of 28-yr-old Even Grade who grew up as an orphan in Mississippi and Joody, a seer, the mother of Pearl (a grey-eyed male). Opening in 1956 in the magnolia state where the two meet; ending five years later (1961) in Alabama, the cotton state, when Pearl is four and his friend Sophy Marie (named after Sophocles) is three. She's the daughter of Grace and Cannan Mosley. Pearl had said, "Girls don't like to be bossed." She uses the Negro language of the fifties.
When I was eleven, I had a half-sister named Mary Ruth Mosley whose mother died and, subsequently, the 3-yr-old child was adopted by someone from her mother's family. The name Mosley brought back memories of the loss of a little girl I loved very much.
This is promoted as a tale of the search for identify and the power of renewal. It is based on one of the stories Ray Haynes passed on to his wife. She uses these quotes (which are signifigant): "Fate has terrible power. You cannot escape it by wealth or war. No fort will keep it out, no ships outrun it" by Sophocles. "Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders," by William Faulkner who knew the South and its inhabitants better than almost any other writer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mother of Pearl Review, Dec 9 2003
By 
Marisol (San Francisco, Ca USA) - See all my reviews
Mother of Pearl is not a novel you can forget. The author brings up issues that affect society and shows that with the help of those in their lives it creates who they are in the future. Mother of Pearl is about the struggles and issues of a small Southern town, whose people face racism, hiprocrisy, and hatred. But most importantly it shows how love and friendship can help those who suffer and who were alone realize their worth. That even though there are those who talk about you because you don't wear the right clothes or are the considered the town's whore,this novel shows that if we listen to those who judge us we will never appreciate life and waste our time worrying what they might say. In the novel a fourteen year old girl, who is the daughter of the town's whore, falls in love with her childhood friend Jackson. Both of them are friends, but their families are different. Even Grade, a thiry three year old black man, falls in love with Joody Two Son, a mixed race woman who the town thinks is crazy.
Each one of these characters shows that no matter what we do it will not turn out perfect unless we make it perfect and strive for the positive side instead of the negative side. Although in the novel Even Grade loves Joody he is attracted to a beautiful black woman named Grace. This shows that although Even has the woman he loves there is still temptation towards another woman from his side that can cause unhappiness. The novel brings about many issues that people face. Mother of Pearl gives the reader hope and faith that things will turn out good.Maybe not now, but once it does we will realize that it was worth the wait.Mother of Pearl establishes a ground base of human life and that is why I give this novel four out of five stars because of its respect for human autonomy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars sweet, thick, and slow as molasses, July 25 2003
By 
Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel (bowling green ohio) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
When I began this book, I actually put it down and picked it up again months later. It is a slow-starter, pulling you in gradually, bit by bit, until you're half-in, half-out of the quicksand and not sure whether to give in or try to get out. This time, I opted for staying in, and I was glad I did.
This book contains many different plots, but as the novel reaches its conclusion, most of them blend together seamlessly and in a way that makes perfect sense... it just seems to take a while to get there. Haynes does revel in sometimes needless symbolism, and I was put off at first by the contrived similarity to Toni Morrison's _Song of Solomon_ (which was written 20 years earlier). Characters have names like Valuable Korner and Even Grade. Other characters are very unlikeable (Beryn Green, for example, father of Joleb), and some are irresistable, especially Joody Two Sun (who is a magical woman living by the river). The river is very important in the novel, as are dreams, connections between people, and family ties.
Sometimes I would have to re-read sections due to the large number of characters... I would actually lose track of what had happened to whom, even though I read the book constantly. Other aspects of the novel were frustrating and painful. However, I was thoroughly moved by the novel and was transported, finally, by Haynes' writing, which to me is the best thing a writer can do for you. I recommend this book to anyone with a little patience and some time on their hands.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A six-sided story, July 6 2002
By 
Penelope Schmitt (Wilmington, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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As many characters and subplots as a Russian novel . . . and all the steamy ambience of Mississippi, make for a fine read. Haynes makes those magnificent first-novel mistakes of a greatly talented writer, by pouring out all the fiction that has apparently been building up in her for quite some time. The plot is rich with complexities and Dickensian surprise connections among characters and stories. Yes, you may be challenged, keeping track, but the payoffs when relationships show up late in the game are most satisfying. There's way more looking into the back corners of the story, and even fleshing out characters who aren't strictly necessary, than Haynes will likely continue to do if she tries to put herself into steady production. But I enjoyed the richness of the background behind the background behind the background. A starchily 'vertical' maiden aunt starts out seeming like a plot convenience halfway through, and becomes a very interesting person, with a life of her own, for example. Houses have as much personality as people in this novel--the achingly tidy, impoverished homes in 'the quarter' where the black characters live, the heavy enslavement of ornamental swans in another house say everything about a wealthy life built on a hideous institutional racism, the slant corners of Valuable Korner's not-quite-home reflect the girl's sad, insecure hold on life. Themes emerge that show up later in Haynes's second novel, Chalktown--the loving care given to the infirm and incapable, particularly. I'm inclined to take a little against the more flambouyant elements in this book. Joody Two Sun with her 'sight' and her hair in sticks and her line of chatter about Deep Mother and her showy gifts . . . well, she's a bit too 'new age' to convince me of her presumed cultural roots. The dream visions of the gutted sow are likewise in the 'far out there' realm. I like it that her wise-old-man character has interested himself in Greek Tragedy, because it's right that what's being enacted here (not Antigone, for sure, though she quotes it) is one of those deep, archetypal horrors in which the young and innocent inadvertantly commit crimes against nature (incest) and bring down upon themselves destructive cruelties which have everything to do with the past of the entire culture and nothing to do with their own entirely natural love for one another. Haynes can certainly tell a complex story, holding your interest, and generating great love for the time, place and people. Although it's clearly a 'first novel', it's also rich in maturity and fine writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Keep reading!, June 11 2002
By A Customer
I had a hard time staying with the book at first because the slang used in the story was very much a southern, time dependent writing style; one that I was not accustomed to. But I'm very glad I stuck with it, because her writing style is wonderful. I loved that all the people that she wrote about were stars of her stories; and I do mean 'stories' and not 'story'. She gracefully fluctuated in between characters and made them real. I loved the way she brought these people to life and made them interesting, each in their own right. After a while I could hear them talking in my head as I read along, adapting to their southern accent and slang and understanding them. It would make a great movie if some talented producer wanted to give it a shot. Of course you always lose something in the translation when adapting to a movie plot.
There were only a couple of puzzling items; her need to talk about a sow split up it's middle in various parts of the story; giving it wisdom at that, and her need to describe the color brown. I guess those things will remain a mystery to me. But please do read it; it is worth it!
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4.0 out of 5 stars oil of olay *did* exist in the 1950's..., June 20 2001
This review is from: Mother of Pearl (Paperback)
contrary to one negative reviewer's claim, and in case anyone is interested. It was invented in South Africa in 1946, and was originally used to treat the skin of soldiers burned in WWII. That said, I'm truly confused by the negative comments made about this beautiful novel. It's one thing to find a book "boring" if the language is more difficult than one prefers (admittedly, this may not be beach-blanket reading), or to dislike characters for whatever personal reasons. It's another thing altogether to accuse the author of creating "unbelievable" characters, and to make that accusation a part of public review(why is it so unbelievable that this black character would quote Homer?), or to accuse an author of being "pretentious" if she writes difficult prose. This novel is so beautifully written that it aches with that beauty; it's just that exquisite. Among my favorite authors, are Barbara Kingsolver; Toni Morrison; Gloria Naylor. Among my favorite novels, _The Poisonwood Bible_; _Beloved_; _Jazz_; _Mama Day_; _Ahab's Wife_ (Sena Jeter Naslund). If your tastes run similar to mine, give this novel a read -- it's lovely and complex, and as clear as a moonlit night in a deep woods.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, May 31 2001
By 
elizabeth (hatboro, pa United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mother of Pearl (Paperback)
Many of the reviewers have stated that this book was hard to get through in the beginning. I found the first chapter was a little rough because of all the shifting that is going on, but after that first chapter everything flowed together. This is a timeless story about childhood love and loosing it. When i read this book i had not seen any shows on oprah about it, and i had only read the back of cover. I decided I wanted to give this book a shot considering I like to stray away from Oprah's book club. Oprah did pick an amazing book that i would recommend to anyone. There are so many layers to this book, and the emotions that you feel when reading it. I used to read this book on my smoke breaks at work, and I just did not want to put it down. It was a book that i wanted to read all day, but I just couldn't. The novel is filled with humor, as well as spirituality and love. The novel asks what binds us together as friends, family or lovers? Is it racial ties, blood or the fact that we have never known anything else. During the last few chapters of this book I was really heartbroken. It was like i was part of this novel and I knew the characters. Almost like i lived in the town. At the end I was still a little sad, but it ended the way I had hoped. Don't miss this one. It's a brilliant novel, and the first few chapters do not give it justice. When reading those chapters don't think about how confusing it is. Just keep plugging away, and you will be extremely happy you did!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Searching for Family, Dec 27 2000
This review is from: Mother of Pearl (Paperback)
Mother of Pearl is a luminous novel of the 1950's South that intermingles race and racism, degeneracy and prejudice, magic and love. With characters whose names came from real estate and road signs such as Even Grade and Valuable Korner, the story races and rambles through a search for meaning, love, and family. As often happens, when someone has no real family, they satisfy their needs in unconventional ways. Here we find a girl, Valuable Korner, who is set adrift by her mother, the town hooker, who takes off for California one night never to return; Valuable goes to the only refuge available, a lesbian aunt and her companion who live in a large Victorian mansion on the river. When her boyfriend moves to Georgia with his family, she is truly cut adrift until she finds comfort and compassion with a Black conjure woman and her lover, Even Grade, an orphan who is also looking for a family. The complexity and variety of the plot moves the novel along at a rapid pace as the author reveals the pettiness and prejudice of 50's Mississippi while at the same time allowing the essential human needs to take precedence as an unusual family of mixed race begins to form. There is also a touch of the outrageous that accompanies many Southern novels and that is certainly a part of Southern culture, as well as the humor that erupts from such situations. Overall, Mother of Pearl is a thoroughly tender and heartrending story of a few individuals in troubled times who overcome their despair in ways that are unexpected and influence their lives forever.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hmm?, Aug. 9 2000
By 
Dionne McKenzie "dmack71" (ATL, GA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mother of Pearl (Paperback)
I was at first surprised when I received this very unexpected gift. I read the back cover and began to think that I wasn't sure this was 'my kinda book'! And just because Oprah recommended it - doesn't mean that it's something that is necessarily targeted to African-American readers.
I tried reading it and had to put it down after one chapter. I had to get back in the "reading mode" - so I read a Jackie Collins novel, and I read 2 books by Sandra Kitt. Now I'm officially in "reading mode" and I can't seem to put "Mother of Pearl" down. I'm not yet finished - but I keep encouraging a friend (who also put her's down after the first chapter) to pick her book up and read it. It really does get better as you go along and I found myself really wanting to know what could possibly happen next.
The characters are so, um "deep" - makes you wonder if this was someones memoir from way back when. For a first timer, I would have to say Ms. Haynes did a good job. This seems like one of those books that I would have read as an English Major in school.
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Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes (Paperback - June 1 2000)
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