Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Pearl” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  641 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
Bean (née Pearl) and Henry, misfits and best friends, have the strangest mothers in town. Henry’s mom Sally never leaves the house. Bean’s mom Lexie, if she is home, is likely nursing a hangover or venting to her friend Claire about Bean’s beloved grandfather Gus, the third member of their sunny household.

Gus’s death unleashes a host of family secrets that brings them all
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Pearl, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Pearl

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 12, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing
I finished reading an advance copy of this YA novel on an airplane heading home from IRA, quietly wiping tears from the corners of my eyes and hoping the lady next to me wouldn’t notice. If she did, though, it would have been okay… I’d just have to tell her about PEARL.

Its author, Jo Knowles, is someone I’m lucky enough to count as a friend. She’s one of the smartest, kindest people I’ve ever met, and I loved her first two books, so I wasn’t surprised when this one crept quietly up and swept me
Joy (joyous reads)
Jul 27, 2011 Joy (joyous reads) rated it it was ok
Pearl and Henry practically grew up together. From not fitting in among kids of their own age, to not ever knowing their fathers, they’re kindred spirits who promised to never let the other grow old lonely. And maybe their absent fathers was the shared ground that bonded them together, or maybe it was from having a couple of mothers who seem to be more involved in their own dramas rather than raising their kids. Regardless of what it was, theirs was a relationship on the brink of something more. ...more
Okay, so the problem with this book was the way it was written. I noticed a lot of editing mistakes, seeing quotation marks at the beginning of a statement but never at the end was quite common in this book. Another thing is that the author didn't have a very broad vocabulary. They literally remarked about how sweaty the characters were multiple times:
"He has a thing about sweat spots. Even though he puts on two layers of deodorant on, he still sweats through three shirts in the summer." Like wh
Jun 09, 2011 pearl marked it as to-read
Shelves: my-name
I want to read this for (very) superficial reasons.
Nov 05, 2011 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: ncbla
As I read this title, I started thinking that the lives of Pearl Collatti and her best friend Henry are more than a little bit like the soap opera, Days of Our Lives, to which his mother is addicted. As in most soap operas, the characters have secrets that,once revealed, will change the world around them in good and not so good ways. Both Pearl and Henry know next to nothing about their missing-in-action fathers, and the truth about Pearl's father only comes out after her grandfather's unexpecte ...more
Reading Teen
Sep 28, 2011 Reading Teen rated it liked it
I'll start out by saying that this isn't really my type of book. I don't read a lot of contemporary, especially books that deal with issues, because, frankly, they depress me. And this book definitely had a sad tone to it, but it was also very sweet. I quickly read through the 224 pages, eager to find out how Bean (Pearl), Henry, Sally, and Lexie would resolve the years of tension, heartache, lies, betrayals, and shattered dreams.

Jo Knowles is a fantastic writer who makes you really feel the sto
Feb 15, 2012 Angie rated it did not like it
"This book was terrible. I wish I could give it negative stars.
The plot makes no sense whatsoever and the characters are poorly developed. All of a sudden, Henry's agoraphobic mom leaves the house after 15 years of solitude and starts hanging out with Bean's mom? And Bean's Mom never gave any indication she was gay for 15 years?

I understand that Bean's mom, Lexie, was putting on an act for Gus, and when he died, it was time to be herself. But not just the next day. And if this Claire was her par
Jan 14, 2015 Melinda rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Pearl, age 15, is raised by a mother who her age when she was born, and by a grandfather who treats Pearl kindly but torments his own daughter. Feeling that her mother, Lexie's, life would have been better off without her, Pearl struggles with her sense of belonging, unaware of her mother's own struggles with a second life she has kept secret from Pearl and her father for years. With simple but precise prose, the author Jo Knowles weaves an engaging and unique story in young adult fiction. Altho ...more
May 13, 2014 Wisteriouswoman rated it did not like it
I'm joining the ranks of the people that said this is one of the worse books they have read in a long time:boring, doesn't make sense, not very likeable characters, unrealistic,and not much of a plot.
Since the author has a husband and son I'm assuming she isn't a lesbian.
I didn't like her other book with a gay character either. I just don't think she gets it right.
The setting seemed 1970s. I couldn't really tell but Bean seems innocent for a 15 year old especially since she never figures out wh
Some spoilers-I mean it!

I chose to read this book because it is part of the Contemps challenge; that is also the main reason I finished this book besides its short length because I really didn't like most of the characters.

Bean, born Pearl, lives with her mother and grandfather, the two often at odds. Bean is lonely with a mother, Lexie, who seems indifferent to her and a grandfather, Gus, who tries but can't fill the place of a mother in her heart. Her best friend is Henry, who lives with his m
Jeni Bell
Nov 01, 2011 Jeni Bell rated it it was amazing
Bean’s life is beginning to feel like the episodes of ‘Days of Our Lives’ that she and her best friend, Henry, and his mother, Sally, watch every day each summer over a shared bowl of Doritos.

For years, she and Henry have bonded over the mystery of why their fathers left them and their mothers behind. Bean’s father left before she was born; Henry’s when he was just a baby. They don’t find many answers from their mothers. Sally, Henry’s mother, hasn’t left the house since Henry’s father ditched t
Melanie Goodman
Pearl (aka Bean) and Henry are the best of friends. Having grown up as social outcasts in a small town, they have only each other to turn to when times get tough. For Bean and Henry, times are pretty much always tough. As the children of eccentric single mothers, life is often messy and complicated. Bean’s mom spends most of her time hungover and complaining about her father with her best friend Claire. Henry’s mom doesn’t leave the house, afraid that if she goes out, she might miss Henry’s fath ...more
Princess Bookie
Jan 11, 2011 Princess Bookie rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2011
My Thoughts: I didn't know if I'd enjoy Pearl when I started it. I was unsure about it. I liked it quite a bit. We are introduced to Bean aka Pearl and her best friend Henry. They have been best friends since the age of 7 and they are now 15 years old. Both of their dads left them when they were young so they have bonded over that. They tell each other everything. We also meet Henry's mom Sally and Bean's grandfather Gus, her mother Lexie, and her mother's friend Claire.

Bean and Henry have made
Dec 09, 2011 Jen added it
When I first saw the cover, I honestly thought it was a high fantasy or something. But I was way off! It’s actually a contemporary. For me, this type of contemporary wasn’t for me. This also isn’t your typical contemporary YA novel.

It was very simple, and an easy read. I think that middle grade readers could read this book too, but it was honestly boring. I didn’t see a point in the book, I mean most contemporary books don’t have points in them, but Pearl just seems especially pointless. It was
Aug 28, 2011 Kirsten rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I've read Knowles' books before, and like the others, this time I wasn't disappointed. Pearl is a quirky, tragic read with (yes, let's face it) a pearl at the end of the tunnel. Like Lessons from a Dead Girl, it was a very quick read that left me wanting more. Knowles has a fantastic writing style and a knack for writing provocative and flawed characters. The characters reminded me almost of Susan Patron's "The Higher Power of Lucky", though I didn't really care for that book as much as I did th ...more
Cathy Blackler
Jan 19, 2013 Cathy Blackler rated it really liked it
Jo Knowles has the ability to craft compelling tales of families searching for that fragile balance. Such is the case with Pearl. Pearl, known as Bean, struggles with the loss of her grandfather, the ghost of her grandmother, and the mystery of her mother's seeming reluctance to embrace anything remotely maternal. With the help of her only friend, Henry, Bean learns that it is possible for something beautiful to develop even in the most challenging circumstances.
Sep 14, 2012 Wendy rated it liked it
A lot of unlikeable characters here. This is, again, darker than See You At Harry's or Jumping Off Swings. Oddly enough. But I guess when you deal with these subjects--children dying and being abused and teenagers getting pregnant and so on--even your lighter books are going to sound dark. But there's a warmth to the characters in See You At Harry's, and in some of the characters in Jumping Off Swings, that made those books much more My Kind of Thing.
Gelo Salinio
Nov 28, 2014 Gelo Salinio rated it really liked it
Shelves: 3-stars-below
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
“This morning when I left for Henry’s, Gus was sitting there reading the paper. When I stopped to say good-by to him, he looked up and sighed at me in his sad way. ‘Be good, Bean,’ he said, just like always…Now that I’m at the age my mom was when she had me, I know what he really means. Don’t be like your mother.

Pearl (aka Bean) and her lone friend, Henry, have been watching soap-opera’s for as long as either of them can remember. Both of them were abandoned by their fathers when they were young
Aug 02, 2011 Madison rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Pearl was not the book I thought it was going to be. This was not a bad thing, it was just unexpected. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started reading Pearl, but I wasn't expecting contemporary fiction, which is what Pearl turned out to be. Now, contemporary fiction isn't usually my thing, but I still really enjoyed this story.

I guess Pearl was full of surprises because the first thing that I thought when the book came in my mailbox was: Wow, this is a really thin book! With only a lit
May 14, 2011 Christi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Review from my blog: http://christitheteenlibrarian.blogsp...

As soon as I found out about this book (I believe through the YA Contemps website), it was on my list, which is obvious, if I'm planning on reading all of the YA Contemps books. But, after reading Jumping Off Swings and my #2 MAHROAT, Lessons From a Dead Girl, I knew it was an absolute must-read. And after reading Pearl, it's official: I have a fan-girl crush on Jo Knowles.
But enough about me, on to the book. Pearl, our main character
Nov 24, 2011 Realteenreviews rated it it was ok
The Gist
Pearl a.k.a Bean isn't the most sociable person in the world. She has only ever made one friend in her lifetime, Henry, who happens to live across the street. Pearl, like most teenagers, has troubles with her mom but she especially has troubles with her mom's friend Claire. The only person in the house that Peal can tolerate is her grandfather Gus. He is always there for her when she needs someone to talk to or if she needs someone to go fishing with. That is until one morning Pearl dis
Jul 18, 2011 Jenny rated it liked it
Quietly compelling, Pearl is one of those stories that gives us just a few frames in the moving picture of one particular character's life, pulling us into Bean's world quickly for a couple brief moments of conflict before we are released back into our own lives. While there is certainly drama, it never crosses the line into melodrama but rather remains engagingly intimate, as though we alone are the only ones that will share in the pain, the healing, and the growth Pearl experiences regardless ...more
Apr 22, 2011 Jacinda rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
When I first added Pearl to my to be read list, I initially thought it was a paranormal read without reading the summary. The cover of Pearl is deceiving since Pearl isn’t a supernatural read whatsoever…it’s contemporary. I have to remind myself all the time to not judge a book’s pages by it’s cover.

Pearl is a story about two very flawed, imperfect, and dysfunctional families, dysfunctional may be an understatement. Many secrets and lies are hidden among both families who are connected by Henry
Bean, aka Pearl, and Henry are best friends. Have been since they were 7 and met at the local MiniMart. Both are children of single moms; both have dads that have never been around. Neither mother will talk about these absent fathers.

Bean lives with her mother and grandfather whom she calls Gus. There has always been tension in her house but she has never known why. Gus seems to hate Lexie, his daughter and Bean's mother, and Lexie doesn't seem to have much use for him. Bean is very close with G
Vickie Wilson
Mar 07, 2014 Vickie Wilson rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how to review Pearl. On one side, I really like this book, as a coming-of-age novel it's wonderfully well written and flows really well. On the other side, I hate it. I find it dull and the plot predictable and the characters stereotypical. So, I will write what I enjoyed about it, as I rated it four stars, which means I did like it a lot.

Pearl is an an engaging character, she's never really had any relationship with her mother and her Grandfather's death really gives her that chanc
Savannah (Books With Bite)
This book is really fast read for me. I was able to easily step in to the story cause of the major drama going on. The plot line of this book is simple yet significant.Lots of secrets, floating around revealing themselves one by one that you are hooked on it like a Spanish novella.

I love the main character Bean. She demanded answers and got them. Even though they weren't what she expected she handle it the best that she could. She knew her mother held secrets, she just never thought it would af
Jan 28, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it
Bean and Henry have a lot in common. They are both 15 and have no other friends. They both have crazy moms. They both have no father around and both their worlds are about to become more dramatic than the soap opera that they watch with Henry's mom.

It is summer and Bean is hanging with Henry when she gets the phone call to come home. Upon arriving home, her young, single and slightly off-center mom tells her that her beloved grandfather, whom they live with, has died. Now, Bean's mom and her gr
Inspired Kathy
Jan 22, 2011 Inspired Kathy rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Review from my blog:

I have such a hard time reviewing and rating books like this one. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a conservative reader. Thus there is certain content that I prefer not to read about. This book has some of that content which makes me hesitant to recommend it. Since I hate spoilers I'm not going to share what it is... but conservative readers beware that the family secrets that unravel although not graphic may not be for you.

That said Pear
Oct 08, 2011 Ashley rated it liked it
Shelves: blog
Originally reviewed on my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.

Pearl by Jo Knowles is a hard book for me to review, because honestly, I didn't feel much while reading it, and there's just... not much to it. It's not a bad book, but it's not really a good one either.

Pearl (aka Bean) and Henry are best friends (well, only friends, really). They've always lived near each other, both understand and love each other (and is it going to be love too?!?!) and they both have mommy/daddy issues. Hen
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • And Then Things Fall Apart
  • Small Town Sinners
  • Ordinary Beauty
  • Sharks & Boys
  • Lie
  • The Pull of Gravity
  • Sign Language
  • Want to Go Private?
  • Putting Makeup on Dead People
  • Don't Stop Now
  • Without Tess
  • Paradise
  • Here Lies Bridget
  • OyMG
  • Family
  • The Implosion of Aggie Winchester
  • Popular
  • Finding H.F.
Hi! I'm the author of Still A Work In Progress, Read Between The Lines, Living With Jackie Chan, See You At Harry's, Pearl, Jumping Off Swings, and Lessons From A Dead Girl. I'm available for school, library and book club visits either in person or via skype. For more info, please visit Thanks! :-)
More about Jo Knowles...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »