Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: Pearl Versus The World

by Heather Potter
Candlewick Press (August, 2011)
Ages 8-12

For a book of its size (80 slender pages), Heather Potter's Pearl Versus the World sure does create a large and lasting impression. It's got that lingering quality I look for in a good story, a feeling of fullness that lives on long after its ending.

Narrated by Pearl in spare free verse, Pearl Versus the World handles some very heavy topics with a gentle touch as Pearl comes to terms with the fading away (and, ultimately, death) of her beloved grandmother who suffers from dementia. Meanwhile, Pearl is fading away too. At school, she feels like a friendless outcast, a group of one who doesn't fit in, just like her verse doesn't fit in with her teacher's expectations to write poems that rhyme. As Pearl explains, "There is no rhyme in my life."

With few words, Potter crafts a surprisingly complete portrait of Pearl as she navigates grief, loss, love and friendship. Despite the heaviness of the topic, Potter handles Pearl's story with such easy grace, there's a feeling of completion and peace that's very reassuring. More vignette than novel, and very young in tone, Pearl Versus the World is an excellent book for young readers, especially those who, like Pearl, are coming to terms with loss and grief.

Source: I received a review copy from Candlewick Press

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