by Laura McNeal
Life has changed rapidly for Pearl and her mother. Once they lived in a large house, the perfect family living whole with her father. But then he left, leaving her and her mother to fend for themselves amid a huge pile of debt and without an income. Now they live in her uncle's small cabin on his property, and while they are happy and welcome there, Pearl finds herself searching for more. For love and adventure. As she finds herself falling in love (that all consuming first love) with a migrant worker who works for her uncle, she learns that the choices we make for ourselves can have disastrous consequences for those we love.
Pearl is a self-centered, ignorant teen girl who makes a series of selfish choices that ultimately lead to (*spoiler alert*) the death of her uncle. Pearl can't see past her own desires and wants to anyone else's. Watching her fall in love with Amiel makes little sense, as he pushes her away constantly and they barely interact. What is redeeming about the book is the way it does make the reader think about how the choices of one person rarely just affect them. Pearl didn't cause the fire that started, but her actions lead to someones death. Ultimately she ends up alone and shunned, and it's only then that she grows up. A decent read for older tweens but not something I would really recommend.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 8th Grade