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Summary and book reviews of Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes

Mother of Pearl

by Melinda Haynes

Mother of Pearl
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  • First Published:
    Jun 1999, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2000, 466 pages

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Book Summary

Set in the Deep South in the late 1950s, Mother of Pearl vividly brings to life the extraordinary inhabitants of the small town of Petal, Mississippi. Central to the novel are the stories of Even Grade, a 28-year-old black man abandoned by his mother at birth; Valuable Korner, a 15-year-old white girl whose family history holds a trunkful of damning secrets; and Joody Two Sun, an enigmatic obeah woman who sees into the hearts and minds of the townsfolk from her riverside camp on the outskirts of town. Cast in a tragicomic passion play, Even, Val, and Joody find their destinies entwined as they search for the love and family that they have always been denied.

Chapter One
Petal, Mississippi, 1956

Even Grade walked past the spot on the bridge where Canaan caught the bottle with his head and saw the blood mark was still there, but just barely. The two-week bake of August sun beginning to mask its humiliation, blending the old man's emission to a color like that of rusted girder. On a day not spent dealing with death, Even would have stopped one more time to wonder over the bigger insult: that Canaan's middle-aged forehead got split by glass and bled out, or that the bottle bearing skin and blood soared over a rail and dropped into the water that he loved. Death or no, Even's suspicion was the same as two weeks back: both. Both were equally bad.

Patting for a shirtfront pocket that wasn't there, he fixed a mark on the sun and gauged the time later than normal by half an hour; summed the earth's indifferent swing as more proof of inconsequential man. On an ordinary day he would have stood still in the spot -- left foot in Hattiesburg, ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
The New York Times Book Review

A fictional [town] as entangling as kudzu....Haynes gets away with [plot] contrivances...because of the sheer vitality of her prose....In the end...Petal still has its edgy charm. Summer here may be sweltering, but there's enough going on to keep the beauty parlor abuzz.

The New York Times Book Review

A fictional [town] as entangling as kudzu....Haynes gets away with [plot] contrivances...because of the sheer vitality of her prose....In the end...Petal still has its edgy charm. Summer here may be sweltering, but there's enough going on to keep the beauty parlor abuzz.

Publishers Weekly

This wise, luminous novel demonstrates her great gifts for language, courageous storytelling and compassion.

From Library Journal

The story takes place in the segregated South, but it is timeless, and the characters are unforgettable.

From Library Journal

The story takes place in the segregated South, but it is timeless, and the characters are unforgettable.

Author Blurb Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of Sister of My Heart
With deft humor and deep sympathy for human suffering, Melinda Haynes has created a novel that weaves together mystery and magic and the small bright delights of everyday life.

Author Blurb Oprah Winfrey
It is an extraordinary read...Melinda Haynes is my catch of the year.

Author Blurb Pat Conroy, Author of Beach Music
Mother of Pearl is a first novel of immense and staggering power. I had never heard of Melinda Haynes in my life, but everyone in America will be hearing about her very soon. Her sentences have the beauty of coined silver forks resting on linen. Her dialogue shimmers. Something absolutely wonderful is going on here and it might be the surprise one feels encountering greatness.

Author Blurb Oprah Winfrey
It is an extraordinary read...Melinda Haynes is my catch of the year.

Reader Reviews
Pittmand R Watson

More Pearl
I can relate to the characters, which is important to me as a reader. Any reader can relate, especially if you are from the South. Please give me more!!!

Book Fanatic

Mother of pearl
I thought that this book was a very interesting read. At first I did not want to read it because it looked boring but I started it and found a treasure. The rural feel of the book was intense and it pulled my heart strings.

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