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Mother of Pearl

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  16,895 Ratings  ·  375 Reviews
Set in a small Mississippi town in the late 1950s, Mother of Pearl is populated by wonderfully rich and original characters with themes of identity and the true meaning of family interwoven throughout. the story revolves around twenty-eight-year-old Even Grade, a black man who grew up an orphan. And Valuable Korner, a fifteen-year-old- white girl who is the daughter of the ...more
Paperback, 531 pages
Published July 5th 2000 by 4th Estate - AU (first published June 2nd 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Set in Petal, Mississippi during the 1950's, Mother of Pearl is a story about finding love and the connections between individuals regardless of our differences. These connections are particularly meaningful in a time and place where racial tensions and prejudice are very pronounced. Even Grade is a black man born to unknown parents. He builds a relationship with Joody Two Sun, an eccentric woman with Native American roots and an ability to "read" the past and future lives of the people she enco ...more
Oct 23, 2008 Bruce rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I’m feeling guilty. I’m feeling guilty about reviewing Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes. I’m feeling guilty, first, because I didn’t read the whole book, finishing only about the first third. I rarely don’t finish books, driven not only by an inner compulsion to complete what I’ve begun but also by the conviction that the author deserves his or her work to be read in its entirety before judgment is passed, and in this case I have failed Haynes. I feel guilty, second, for having the temerity to ...more
Sep 07, 2008 Pari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason you want to keep reading it. Not because you're hoping for an explanation or a story or a plot. But because you want to know what in the world possessed the author to write a book that makes no sense.
Mar 05, 2008 Heather rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It makes me sad that this is the only book in probably the last 20+ years that I just put down and never finished. I just absolutely could not get into it. Boring!
Feb 10, 2008 Dianna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novels
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 an ...more
Jul 26, 2012 Kirsten rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just can't read this book, I probably shouldn't even write a view because I am only 25 pages in. I am an avid reader! I have read so many books, and I read fast...I bought Mother of Pearl at a local bookstore in their used section. It caught my attention because it is on Oprah's Book Club. I have been trying to read this book for 7 months! I can't do it. In the meantime I have read many other books...every time I finish a book I, of course, need a new one to start. So every single time I pick ...more
I'm going to begin my review by quoting from some of the jacket blurbs, to give you a sense of how well received this first time novelist was with her beautiful piece of work.
From the Chicago Tribune: "Remarkable." From The Plain Dealer in Cleveland: "Haynes is the real thing, a true artist, a genuine writer, and in this book, at least, a genius....MOTHER OF PEARL transports us to the wilds of a different world." From Publishers Weekly: "In prose both rugged and beautiful, Haynes plumbs the secr
Andrew Herren
May 14, 2012 Andrew Herren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book used so I didn't know it was an Oprah selection until I read some of the reviews on Amazon. I was a little confused by some of the bad reviews here until I read a few of them. I have to say that I was on the fence with this one for the first 100 pages (seems to be a common complaint) but after that I was hooked. Give this one a good try if you have trouble with it because it WILL come together.

I've lived in the South all of my life and I thought many of the characters reminded
#woof what a tome. This was another in a long list of books that I was compelled to add to my “Want To Read” list a couple of years ago which I can’t for the life of me figure out/understand. Like, Oprah’s Book Club? Typically, these are three words that would send me in the other direction if only because I often find the books she likes to be overtly preachy, or fanatical, or over-the-top emotional and I just can’t get behind that type of book right naw, you know? But it was one of the first b ...more
Nickole Dowd
May 26, 2013 Nickole Dowd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What did I think of this book? Hm, It was good, I liked the story, I laughed aloud in some places and anxious in others. I really didn't care much for the writing style though. It didn't flow, it was hard to follow and it switched between first and third person narratives with no warning. Several times I had to go back and reread a paragraph or start a section over again just to figure out who was doing the talking or who was being talked about. The author not only confused me with the narrative ...more
Jun 17, 2012 Wizzfizz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book nearly lost me at the beginning - I think it was because I found the language quite difficult to grasp at first. Once I got used to it I reveled in the colloquialisms, sayings and conversations, especially between Even and Canaan. Such gems as "dead as a nob" and "cold as a witches tit" had me chuckling out loud.

The cast of characters is large, and at first seem rather random, but are connected nicely as the story goes on.

The book is really slow at first as well.....but it intrigued me
Beem Weeks
Jan 12, 2013 Beem Weeks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago when it first hit the market. I fell in love with the characters, their dialogue, and the easy-going narration. Melinda Haynes tells a sad tale of racial ambivalence, class order (or disorder), and the mistakes and sins common to mankind--regardless of the era. The story charts the lives of Even Grade, a black man, and Valuable Korner, a fifteen-year-old white girl, the daughter of the town whore. Their lives intersect at points neither could have imagined. Family secr ...more
Maya Davis
Mar 31, 2009 Maya Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for a project in Ms. Shakir's class. This book was a little bit difficult to follow at some points ,but ultimately it all came together very nicely. I admit, that yes, I indeed cried at the end, twice. Once because it was sad, and once because it was happy.
This story is about a white girl named Valuble Korner, a black man named Even Grade. This is a story about Love, morals, and tough choices. I highly recommend this book. A word of advice, this book tends to get very graphic
Clint Jones
Sep 05, 2010 Clint Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The plot is woven around the two main characters (Even Grade and Valuable Korner) and a witch, a goat, and some wise old people who live in a quirky little southern town in the 1950's. The plot is full of twists that are shocking, humorous, and heart breaking.

I read this book with a friend and had a blast. I loved this book because it was very literary... full of symbols, motifs, allusions, and figurative language that allows the reader to explore many levels of interpretation. Definitely a book
Shari Harrington
2.5 stars

"Mother of Pearl" is set in a small town within the South during the 1950's. Petal, Mississippi has plenty of drama as the story goes on. Namely, a woman has suffered a crippling stroke giving birth to her son; the child's father hides his identity but sends money for support. White teen-agers who fall in love turn out to be half siblings; when the girl gets pregnant and dies in childbirth, a black man raises the child; a lesbian whose brother is a priest, and a cranky lady who falls in
Amanda B.
This book I came upon in advisory, randomly. I picked it up, saw it was in the Oprah Book Club and also saw that it took place in the South while segregation was still occurring, which interested me. After reading this book, I do not regret picking it up because it has such an interesting story of these people who are basically trying to find themselves. Haynes uses a lot of Character Nyms, imagery, and characterizations to develop the novel in a way that is classic. The story is mainly about a ...more
Aug 21, 2011 Skyla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I almost kept a journal while I was reading this book just to keep track of my thoughts about it. I generally do not like to read "Oprah" books but I really found this book full of great characters that you wanted to know more about. It took me about 50-60 pages to really get into it and once I was I didn't want to put it down.

I felt so awful for the majority of the characters and the issues they were dealing with (don't want to give anything away till Katie reads it!) I loved Valuable and
Annie Coppock
Oct 15, 2012 Annie Coppock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit, I bought this book (used for $2) because the book jacket is simply gorgeous. Shallow, I know, but I like to let these impressions lead me where they will. A review I read of the book described Melinda Haynes' writing as "exquisite prose". Exactly! I found her descriptions delicious -- "... Who ever knew that brown could be such a rainbow..." LOVE that! A little research revealed that she was a artist (painter) first. Makes perfect sense! Some of the story lines spoke to me. Some di ...more
Jun 06, 2014 Lauren rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-read
In the 1950's, small-town Mississippi, there were still racial divides. In the coloured part of town is Even Grade, a black man who is an orphan and only a few friends. Across the river is Valuable Korner, whose grandmother recently passed away so her mom came back to take care of her but is known to the whole town as a whore. The story revolves around these two and eventually their stories merge. Val is experiencing teenage love with her only friend Jackson and becomes pregnant right before he ...more
Michael Beblowski
In Absolom, Absolom William Faulkner effectively combined Greek Tragedy, regional vernacular and Southern Gothic to create the story of a man desperate to hide behind Southern gentility and respectability and whose Machiavellian tactics are recounted through the subjectivity of others' interpretation. Melinda Haynes in her debut novel, Mother of Pearl, is obviously indebted to the modernist prose and Southern heritage of William Faulkner, Flannery O' Connor, Fannie Flagg and Eudora Welty. At tim ...more
Rand Zacharias
Love Melinda's use of archaic language from a time long ago.

I must agree with many of the previous reviews. Haynes pulls no punches and launches her first book with a broad menagerie of characters from all walks of life during the 1950s. Unique characters with an "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" feel to it.

The tragedy and triumph of the novel's characters may be too expected, but the effort and excellence of Haynes' skills as an author are obvious.
Wendy Tegtman
Nov 17, 2014 Wendy Tegtman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book took me forever to read! It is not worth your time! I don't usually leave comments but the author is all over the place in this book. It is hard to follow and the only good part was the last five chapters!
Jan 10, 2015 Autumn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
On the plus side, it probably could have been worse. This book comes dangerously close to 'The Help' territory (haven't read, so I'm making some assumptions, but whatever). Race is forefront, but dealt with in a simplistic, 'nice white people v bad white people' sort of way, without any larger analysis. Of course there are magical black people-- how could there not be? Several of the major plot points are so predictable that you have to wonder if something different is going to be revealed at th ...more
Jul 22, 2016 Cindy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marilyn Lagier
Why I ever chose this book to read is beyond me--somewhere I must have read a review of it and decided it sounded interesting....which it was, in its own way. It is a story of black/white interactions/relations in the town of Petal, Mississippi, in the mid 1950s (yes, there really is a Petal, MS!). At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue but I plugged along and it did keep my attention. The author said that she based characters upon people she knew while growing up in Hattiesburg, MS, whi ...more
May 02, 2009 Debbie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book came recommended. I tried really hard to get into and finally gave up. Too strange for me. I could't connect with the characters.
Lucía SRamírez
May 12, 2016 Lucía SRamírez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una historia bastante entretenida y con partes chistosas, que definitivamente te hará terminar el libro, varias historias que se entrelazan en un punto de la trama, bastante fácil de leer y con un buen argumento, amor, racismo y sobre todo sentimientos encontrados por parte de los protagonistas que en este libro son varios. 4 estrellas por que a pesar que me haya gustado y entretenido le faltó ese algo que hiciera que me encantará totalmente como varios libros lo han hecho. En fin como libro de ...more
Jenny Taylor
Like many other reviewers, I found Haynes' novel rather dry. I was increasingly bored, but did charge through to the finish, at which point I was left wondering what the plot actually was. As far as I can reason, it is about the interconnectedness of human beings, particularly in a racially divisive time period. I think the same idea could have been achieved with a more entertaining tale, though.

As for the characters, there were simply too many of them for any to be fully developed. Undeveloped
Jan 30, 2016 Marian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The setting is 1950's Mississippi and this book features a lot of colorful characters. I expected to see more racial violence and was happy that it was only hinted at. I enjoyed the characters black & white from straight forward, Even Grade, philosophic Canaan, Shaman like Joody Two Sun & beautiful long legged Grace. This quartet is at the heart of the book with the story of love lost teenagers Jackson & Val added to the mix. It is really about life and people that live in Petal, MS. ...more
Jan 22, 2008 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time getting into this book initially, but it did get better towards the end.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please combine 6 15 Aug 26, 2016 12:19PM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Oprah book club starts with 2 kids in a river, there is an old woman and maybe a fence [s] 6 33 Mar 13, 2014 08:31AM  
Slow Starter? 14 30 Sep 11, 2013 08:10AM  
Question about the ending 2 18 Jan 30, 2013 06:41AM  
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Melinda Haynes (born 1955) is an American novelist. She grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. For much of her adult life she was a painter. In 1999, she wrote her first published novel, Mother of Pearl, while living in a mobile home in Grand Bay, Alabama. Melinda Haynes currently resides in Mobile, Alabama with her husband, Ray. Her writing is intimately connected with the Mississippi of the 1950s ...more
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“And I said, ‘I’m thinkin’ I’ve wasted too much time thinkin’, is what I’m thinkin'.” 6 likes
“And though he has watched a decent age pass by, a man will sometimes still desire the world.” 3 likes
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