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Perfect Peace

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  3,069 ratings  ·  515 reviews
The heartbreaking portrait of a large, rural southern family’s attempt to grapple with their mother’s desperate decision to make her newborn son into the daughter she will never have

When the seventh child of the Peace family, named Perfect, turns eight, her mother Emma Jean tells her bewildered daughter, “You was born a boy. I made you a girl. But that ain’t what you was s
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published March 11th 2010)
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is this the best book i have ever read?


is this the best book i have ever read about a child raised as the gender their parents wanted them to be instead of what their genitals dictated them to be?


but it is still very very good.

this is another book where he is not a fantastic writer, but he is a good storyteller. there were moments when i kind of wanted to compress scenes or cross out redundancies but it never prevented me from getting caught up in the story.

i was first drawn to this book b
Vacirca Vaughn

Imagine being a mother of six boys when all you have ever hoped for in life was to give birth to a daughter? When you were young, you played with your dolls pretending that you were caring for that daughter you hoped would grow up to love you. You prayed that your little girl would grow to adore you in a way your own mother and sisters never did simply because your skin was too dark. That is the heart-breaking story of Emma Jean Peace, the young matriarch of this ra
Quadrus Black
Recently my favorite cousin pulled my ear about a novel she was thinking about reading. Because I trust her opinion about these types of things, I was immediately interested and when she gave me a synopsis of the story, I was sold. The novel was 'Perfect Peace' by Daniel Black. I googled the author and guess what? It and turns out, I'd read one of his previous books(They Tell Me of a Home) and I hated it. I decided not to let that discourage me though. I mean, I was very enthusiastic about the s ...more
Stanley Bennett Clay
It was not simply that Emma Jean Peace desperately wanted a daughter after giving her husband six sons. She wanted to shower on a daughter all the love, pampering, consideration and care she did not receive as the dark-skinned child of a woman who heaped unimaginable pain and suffering upon a child whose only sin was to be born black, literally.

Adolescent Emma Jean suffered indignities not dissimilar from those suffered by Celie in “The Color Purple,” only her Mister was her mother, a title cru
Reader's Paradise
Perfect Peace certainly can embrace the saying “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Perfect was born male and his mother Emma Jean out of her desperation and need for a female child convinced her son he was a she. He was dressed in ribbons and dresses and often told how beautiful she was. He was not allowed to play with his/her brothers. When she would ask she was told “girls don’t play with boys, her younger brothers wanted to play with her but they were told shes supposed to do girl st ...more
i love this book. it's good storytelling, daring storytelling that mashes up race and gender and the politics of childhood in a really brave and interesting way. think, if you will, octavia butler's Fledgling. just like Fledgling, this book has caused a bit of an ethical/squeamish stir. i understand Fledgling's stir more than i understand Perfect Peace's stir. Fledgling has some serious squirm-inducing moment. Perfect Peace pushes buttons i apparently don't have. i don't care that daniel black d ...more
Noir Jones
I started out with 5 stars for this book, for originality alone. Once I started reading, I admit I was disappointed by the time frame. I would prefer to read books that have more contemporary settings because most books and movies have Blacks stuck in slavery or Jim Crow and I get tired of it especially since it doesn't speak to where I am now (hopefully that makes sense. I have a degree in History so I'm definitely not downgrading or disrespecting our history.)
Anyway, after my initial disappoin
This book broke my heart. From the moment the first sentence began until the last sentence ended, my heart felt as if it were folding in on itself. Bouncing back and forth between a call~and~response type pattern with flashes forward into the future and tumbles into the past, this is an emotionally charged narrative that will leave you wondering why?

Emma Jean’s desire for a daughter was born of her own need to feel loved, wanted and needed (an overall theme in this book, which is why I think the
Ebony EyeCU Evans
"Perfect Peace" is an ABSOLUTE MUST READ!

Daniel Black painted a story so vivid and soul stirring it'll have you captivated by Gus & Emma Jean Peace's journey from beginning to end. Even in my disgust of Emma Jean....Considering her racist, abusive and loveless childhood, I found understanding. She soooooooo badly wanted a daughter to prove to her evil and abusive mother Mae....That although, dark skinned, nappy headed, ugly and skinny, she too is capable of being loved. With a head full of p
Jun 10, 2010 Kimmylou rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Kimmylou by: NO ONE
I have been thinking on what can I say about this book that the book itself doesn't do on it's own. I decided to go with my First thoughts. The Story itself was unique and not different day same sandwich!

As noted before I am a book snob and this book has made me very, very happy. It had been too long since I read a book and I was totally in awe of the whole thing from start to finish. I felt as if I was listening (NOT READING!) to my Grandfather tell a story. The Characters are so enthralling a
Wow my first five-star book of the year and so well deserved, I only wished this book would have been longer to tell in the entirety the rich saga of the Peace family--mom and dad, Emma Jean and Gus and thier six unique and interesting sons..The book begins with an impatient Emma Jean and a regretful Gus awaiting the birth of their seventh child which despite the mouths to feed is desperately wanted by Emma Jean as a way to provide the love and attention she never got from her heartless colorstr ...more
This book has been the most excruciating reading experience ever, like watching a train wreck or car crash in slow motion. Just when you think it can't get any worse it manages to reveal yet another ugly side of human behavior. And I can't understand why the book jacket chose to include a spoiler that further makes for a sense of underlyiing dread for the first hundred pages. Not that it matters much, the whole novel is so heavy with repetition and foreshadowing which only adds to the tedium. I ...more
Perfect Peace caught my attention immediately. Would I say that it is the best book that I've ever read?

Not at all

However, it is the best book that I've read that shares a story of a troubled family during the Jim Crow era. It also shares their story not from a historical perspective, but from the viewpoint of a family with imperfect members. With the exception of certifying the birth of their children, this story could be set in today's society. This family faced internal and external adversar
So many of my friends recommended Perfect Peace to me that when I started to read it I expected a really great read. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. Perfect Peace is a good book that lets Mr. Black's wonderful way with words get in the way of a good story. He spent so much time and effort setting up Perfect's family life and the manner in which Perfect came to be that he rushed the ending. It seems like he ran out of things to say and had to wrap it up somehow. Every son of Gus and Emma ...more
Edina Rose
Family drama in an African-American family living in a small town, early to late 20th century.

Paul was born a boy but his mum decided to bring him up as a girl. Paul believed he was a girl. Everybody, including his dad and brothers, believed he was a girl.

His mum named him "Perfect", for the perfect little girl she was. In a house full of boys, she was the family's little princess. Her brothers' love for her was stronger than their jealousy, and she had always felt loved, unique, precious, per
This was an EXCELLENT read!! This book was recommended to me by a good friend. It was like an emotional roller coaster ride. I could never imagine a mother doing what Emma Jean Peace did to her child. The consequences of her actions seemed to be insufferable at times. This story is truly proof that 'you reap what you sow' in more ways than one.

I HIGHLY recommend this book! Thank you Mr. Black for a very moving and unforgettable story. I'm sure that I will read this book again.
Excellent, excellent read! Highly recommend it. Many lessons to be learned through this book. Next on my list...Water For Elephants
DISCLAIMER: my apologies to the author or anyone that enjoys this book. I’m not into it. The jist of the book is feminism (obviously). It’s about a poor black family (the Peace family) in the South back in the 40′s. The Peace family already has 6 boys, and the mother just wants a little girl. The 7th baby (and last baby as the husband declares) comes out a boy. Whoopsie. So the mother lies to everyone (her own family, community, priest) and says the baby is a little girl. She names the baby “Per ...more
"If you different, be different. People'll get used to it. They ain't got no other choice."

Perfect Peace surely was different. Just how different, wasn't fully realized by anyone for a very long time.

The idea that a mother could just decide to assign a gender to her child is mindboggling, but that is the exact premise of this novel. I kept thinking of the child that was raised as gender 'neutral' That child's parents refused to pick a side, but Perfect
This has to be one of the best books I have read. Dr. Black creates a story in which bigotry, hatred, lies, deceit and retribution are all intermingled. He does it flawlessly and it is never confusing or bogged down.

Perfect Peace is a little boy who's mother decides when he is born to raise him as the little girl she always wanted. With 6 boys already and issues from her growing up, she thinks that it is logical for her to go forward. The day after she turns 8, her mother explains to her that s
there was a cavet at the end of this book that really underscored a point Cornel West raises in all of his lectures via Socrates: "the unexamined life is not worth living." magnified by the words of Chief Obalumi Ogunseye: "you don't get everything you pay for; but you will pay for everything you get." this was a solid piece of literature. i'm sure its going to be a classic some day. it rolled along like the river jordan that purifies the soul of the a collective Peace(you'll get that later it), ...more
Although I wasn't finished, Perfect Peace has come to an end. But I wasn't, I'm not, ready to let Perfect go. At its conclusion, I sat silently wondering what was going to happen to him in the future. I thought about gender roles and how our culture defines them. I thought about all the children now that do not have a voice. I thought about the way Perfect's voice was silenced and the courage it took to discover and redefine his voice. I love that this book made me think.

This book isn't for eve
I've had and am still having *all the feelings* about this book. On one hand, it's a beautifully written but sad story exploring a struggling black family in mid-twentieth century Arkansas. On the other, I'm left troubled because although Black does a great job exploring the complexities of gender identity and sexuality, few of his female characters seem to have any redeeming qualities. Also, the insertion of the racial realities of Jim Crow so late in the novel felt like a last minute add on th ...more
3.5 stars

I didn't love this book but nonetheless I did like it. I found it to be predictable and sometimes quite repetitive. A lot of the story just wasn't realistic. Not only that, but he didn't use the show not tell method. And I found the (view spoiler). Nonetheless, the author kept my interest and the storyline was origi
I truly loved this book. To see the transformation in the Peace family was beautiful. Perfect was a beautiful human being that you wanted to help with everything in you. Daniel Black did a excellent job with this heartfelt story. I would highly recommend this book to everyone.
This started off rocky for me because I was so furious at Emma Jean but I am glad I kept going. I loved this book. The children are the perfect examples of resilience. I highly recommend this one
Awesome!! My aunt recommended this book to me and it did not disappoint! I thought the way the characters were written allowed me a true insight into their lives. It also allowed me to question the idea of gender in our society and how it defines us. The story was thought provoking and reminded me that parents have a responsibility to their children and can have a profound impact on their lives. One of the best books I have read in the last few years! I would definitely recommend it and want to ...more
I picked up this read from the LFPC Goodreads group for this year's read.

I loved Gus's newfound strength when he discovered the unrevealing secret of his daughter Perfect Peace. He says, "This is my house, and I am the MAN in it! And ain't nobody, and I mean nobody, gonna destroy my family. We gonna make this work. It ain't gonna be easy, so ain't no need in thinking it is, but we can make it. No lying no more and not hiding from nobody. Folks can say what they want to, and we might as well get
Agent Smith
As Perfect she was an innocent naive child. As Paul he was seemingly an old soul at only 8 years old b/c he was forced to grew up over night. Perfect/Paul was born a boy, however his mother Emma Jean wanted a girl so bad that she decided to raise her newborn son as a girl named Perfect. During Perfect's 8th birthday party her mother Emma Jeans finally reveals the truth that Perfect was really born a boy. The whole family is devastated and confused by this revelation. At 8 years old Perfect is fo ...more
It’s a…Boy…Or Maybe a Girl

After giving birth to six boys, it’s not unusual for an expectant mother to hope, wish, and pray that the child she is carrying is a girl. What is unusual, though, is for a mother to have a boy and “make” it a girl. Welcome to the world of Emma Jean Peace. Having not had much of a childhood herself, Emma Jean is desperate to have a little girl to love, dote over and cherish. All the things she missed as a little girl. Blinded with desperation, Emma Jean pronounces her
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NOTE: There is more than one author with this name on Goodreads.Daniel Black author of Be Careful What You Wish For

Daniel Black is a native of Kansas City, Kansas, yet spent the majority of his childhood years in Blackwell, Arkansas. He is an associate professor at his alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, where he now aims to provide an example to young Americans of the importance of self-knowled
More about Daniel Black...
They Tell Me of a Home Twelve Gates to the City The Sacred Place Complicated Currents: Media Flows, Soft Power and East Asia Android by Example using Android Studio

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“Big don't mean ugly, and thin sho don't mean pretty. If a person wants to be pretty, they gotta walk pretty, talk pretty and act pretty. Can't nobody take pretty from you.” 73 likes
“Sometimes you have to grow up before you appreciate how you grew up.” 47 likes
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