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Perfect Peace

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  4,580 Ratings  ·  675 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
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published March 11th 2010)
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Feb 16, 2012 karen rated it really liked it
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 wanted 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 bec
Petra Eggs
Sep 14, 2016 Petra Eggs rated it it was amazing
What is good about this book is that it is quite an original story. A woman, in the deepest and poorest Black south, has had enough of having sons and raises one of them as a girl until she is forced to tell him and everyone else that her eight year old daughter is in fact her son. What else is good is that this is finely-drawn portrait of the woman seen directly and through others' eyes. There is a really interesting cast of characters, and when I say 'cast' I am thinking not just of the book, ...more
Quadrus Black
Jul 18, 2010 Quadrus Black rated it did not like it
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
Vacirca Vaughn
Feb 05, 2011 Vacirca Vaughn rated it it was amazing

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
Stanley Bennett Clay
Jun 21, 2013 Stanley Bennett Clay rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 26, 2010 Chezon rated it really liked it
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
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
Jan 01, 2011 Daenel rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 27, 2012 Juanesia rated it it was amazing
Gasps!! Daniel Black left me speechless after reading this book. I mean from the beginning to the end I just kept shaking my head. He discussed things the some just graze over as if it didn't exist. This book was highly recommended to me and I have no clue why it took me so long to read it. I certainly wasn't disappointed. The characters were humanly flawed and in real life situations that will sometimes cause you to laugh and others will cause you to question, "But why?" This is a literary piec ...more
La Donna
Jul 20, 2012 La Donna rated it it was amazing
Wow. An exquisitely written story of a heart-breaking web of lies, relationships, and growth. I didn't want to read it initially, but it held my attention...too bad I missed my bookclub's discussion. There are many lessons in this book to meditate on.
Reader's Paradise
Feb 11, 2011 Reader's Paradise rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 11, 2011 Barbara rated it did not like it
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
Shannan Harper
Apr 28, 2015 Shannan Harper rated it it was amazing
I read this story because it was a recommendation from some book lover friends. I was totally shocked and surprised through out the read. Mr. Black will be another author that I will be on the lookout for.
Apr 02, 2011 Trease rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent read! Highly recommend it. Many lessons to be learned through this book. Next on my list...Water For Elephants
Noir Jones
Nov 24, 2012 Noir Jones rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 19, 2010 jo rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 09, 2011 Mattie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sep 10, 2011 Londa rated it really liked it
"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 Perfec
Ebony EyeCU Evans
Apr 17, 2013 Ebony EyeCU Evans rated it it was amazing
"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 it was amazing
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
Lizzie Winns
May 07, 2014 Lizzie Winns rated it really liked it
This book was very well written and i loved the story line, it was different from any book that i have read. The story is about a woman who wanted a little girl so bad that when she became pregnant with her 7th child she told every one it was a girl whom she named "Perfect", So basically the story follows "perfect" as she grows up, until her mom tells her that she really was a boy, and "Perfect's" world is turned upside down. Her new name was Paul and she must now learn how to live as a boy... I ...more
Davina Bell
May 06, 2011 Davina Bell rated it it was amazing
Love It!!!!! I would like to see this made into movie (as long as it is not like Beloved (Eww!!!)). This was my favorite type of story; wonderfully and cleverly written. It is full of symbolism. :D I liked how he tackles the attitudes in the black community concerning sexuality, religion, spirituality, and sexism. There are truly some problems in the black community that is just as relevent in 2013 as it was in the 1940s and 50s. I would like to see this book disected to see the meaning behind t ...more
Apr 15, 2011 Star rated it it was ok
I was slightly disappointed in this book. The first few chapters were complete page turners, but toward the middle, the author attempted to sew in several different stories which were actually boring, pointless, incomplete, & unnecessary. Perfect's story alone would have been enough!
Jan 28, 2013 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 29, 2011 Andrea rated it liked it
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
May 01, 2013 MZURAQT rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the land of the of the south the Peace family weaves an compelling story that will stick with you for years to come.

Emma Jean, the mother of six boys wants nothing more than to have a little girl. Stuck in the past from when she was growing up makes her desire even stronger for wanting what she can't have.When it is time for her to deliver, she makes a decision that changes the Peace household forever.In this story you will follow the life of the children.The ups & downs of understanding
Jul 09, 2011 Titilayo rated it it was amazing
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
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
Aug 11, 2012 kisha rated it really liked it
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
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Literary Drama!: Perfect Peace -- Last discussion question 7 25 Oct 29, 2013 01:23PM  
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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...

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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.” 80 likes
“Sometimes you have to grow up before you appreciate how you grew up.” 63 likes
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