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Gun Love

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,466 ratings  ·  301 reviews
‘My mother called anyone or anything that seemed alone, or ended up in the wrong place, a stray. There were stray people, stray dogs, stray bullets, and stray butterflies.’

Fourteen-year-old Pearl France lives in the front seat of a broken down car and her mother Margot lives in the back. Together they survive on a diet of powdered milk and bug spray, love songs and stolen
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 12th 2018 by Hogarth
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Daniel Riley It's neither. This isn't a story about guns. It's about family - the ones you're born to, and the ones you make yourself through friendship. Despite…moreIt's neither. This isn't a story about guns. It's about family - the ones you're born to, and the ones you make yourself through friendship. Despite the presence of the word "gun" in the title, this isn't a book about guns.(less)

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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,466 ratings  ·  301 reviews

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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Pearl has grown up living in a car that is parked at the beginning of a middle of nowhere Florida trailer park. She doesn't know much of anything about her mother's past life other than the fact that she knows her mom came from money..(and fly swatters and the gas stove) and that no one knows that Pearl exists. She has no birth certificate as her mom had her and ran. That keeps the child protection services away. Or so she hopes.

Pearl and her mom have lived in that car Pearl's whole life. They h
Diane S ☔
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 In her novel, Prayers for the Stolen, Clement showed us, forgettably, how tragically are the lives of those who live with the daily threat of drug cartels. In this one, she tackles the subjects of homelessness, poverty and the prevalence of guns in our society. Pearl, our narrator is 14, she and her mother have spent her life in a car, situated at the entrance of a trailer park. Yet, her mother who comes from a priviledged background, one she has run away from, makes their situation almost m ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:


Now if you know me you know I hardly ever float a review, even for release date. I'm making an exception here and my apologies for being out of town when the actual release happened earlier this week. Not only was this book a real genre bender that could be classified as any or all of contemporary, young adult, chick lit or grit lit - but it was just different in general. I won't forget Pearl or her mother or their car near the
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2018-read, 2018-nba
Nominated for the National Book Award 2018
This is a book about the apocalypse and about contemporary America - kudos to the NBA, because looking at the latest Booker longlist, there are zero nominees that come even close to dissecting post-Brexit Britain as fearlessly and presciently. This novel daringly tackles problems specific to the United States, and there is strength in confronting inconvenient truths, especially when done so poetically and intelligently.

Our protagonist, 14-year-old Pear
Edward Lorn
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gun Love is a fantastic piece of literary fiction. The story follows a young girl whose mother ran away from home after becoming pregnant with her. For the past fifteen years, they've lived in a car outside of a mobile home park. When an enigmatic stranger comes calling, the mother falls in love, and thus begins the heartbreak.

Jennifer Clement's prose is poetic and gorgeous. If you do not read this book for any other reason, please pick it up for the beauty of the language. I had heart-eyes for
"Gun Love" by Jennifer Clement could've been something great if it weren't for the pretentious writing. I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters because it seemed the author was more interested in writing bloated, poetry-like metaphors. I needed more plot and character development. I wanted to like the protagonist, Pearl, but she didn't seem like much of a person. She felt like a painting. Just kind of there. I absolutely hated Pearl's mother, Margot. I wanted to head-butt her so ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I went through quite a range of emotions reading this book, which started out a little on the unbelievable side, the circumstances of the pregnancy for example, but anyway, I batted away the negativity and that led to a rewarding read. Personally, I don't like guns, I was waiting anxiously for the tragedy/s that I knew would happen. The setting at the tip, the toxic river, the grotty bus ride, living in a car, Guns for God, creepy guys at the trailer park and mutating aligators all kind of nulle ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A few years ago, I read Jennifer Clement’s Prayers for the Stolen, an electrifying book that has remained with me and has shaped my thinking of the brutality of the drug cartels and the urgency of compassion for the innocent victims who need to escape to safety. You can’t expect more from a book than that.

In Gun Love, Ms. Clement moves from drug culture to the pervasiveness of guns that are everywhere, keeping us all on the precipice between life and death. Whether it’s the casual buying and sel
Ron Charles
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jennifer Clement, the president of PEN International, offers an entirely different experience in her haunting new novel, Gun Love . Its hushed poetic pages tell the story of a girl named Pearl who has lived her whole life with her mother in a broken-down car in a Florida trailer park. “Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom were miles away,” Pearl says. “We were nowhere. . . . Life was always like shoes on the wrong foot.”

“Gun Love” draws a vision of poverty far from urban America; here, children
Gun Love is a poem, really, and once I understood that about it, I liked it a lot more. There's something of the modern fairytale about this story, in which 14-year-old Pearl and her mother Margot – who ran away from her wealthy family as a pregnant 16-year-old – live in a broken-down car on the edge of a Florida trailer park. The most effective and memorable scenes depict fragments of a scrappy existence made fuzzy by the dreamy, romantic haze of youth; Don't Kiss Me by way of The Night Rainb ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2018 National Book Award Longlisted Novel

Jennifer Clement’s Gun Love takes aim (sorry) at two troubling issues in America, that of homelessness and, more specifically, of its gun culture. Her fourteen-year-old narrator, Pearl, has lived her entire life in a car parked at the edge of a small trailer park in Florida. The front seat of an old Mercury is her bedroom, the back seat belongs to her mother. The environment is grim. A toxic dump lies at the back of the trailer park and nearby is a pollut
♥ Sandi ❣
3 stars Thanks to First to Read and Penguin Random House Books for a chance to read this ARC. Published in March 2018.

I understand that in this story the author was making a statement about guns and gun running between Mexico and the U.S., but I could not really follow her thought pattern. I felt that the story was a bit disjointed and not as fluid as I would have liked. It tended to go off on various tangents and then dropped them just as quickly.

I would try another book by Clement in hopes th
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
The desperation of poverty and homelessness combined with the sharp forces that shape gun culture define this powerful absorbing read: "Gun Love: A Novel" by Jennifer Clement. The story begins at Indian Waters Trailer Park, in an unnamed town near Sarasota, Florida. The story is narrated by Pearl France, who lives with her mother Margot, in their car. Margot supports them by working as a custodian at the local Veterans Hospital, and has raised her intelligent daughter to be resourceful and obser ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This NBA longlisted title covers many of the current social issues that the US is struggling with today - poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, the lack of adequate care for our veterans, and, of course, gun culture. I found the prose in this book wonderful with a great balance between the artistic and the practical. True-to-life characters who behave alternatively in selfish and unselfish ways are well-drawn and sympathetic.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars, rounded up.

“My mother always said, Dreaming is cheap. It doesn’t cost a thing. In dreams you don’t have to pay the bills or pay the rent. In dreams you can buy a house and be loved back.” -Pearl.

Gun Love by Jennifer Clement is the story of a mother and daughter. Single mother Margot, is raising fourteen-year-old Pearl in a car in a Florida mobile home park. Pearl's “bedroom” is the front seat and Margot resides in the backseat . The old Mercury sits on land that borders a dump. Odors
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
National Book Award for Fiction Longlist 2018. American-Mexican author Clement has a beautiful lyrical style that clashes jarringly with the substance of her gritty novel. Plus, she forces the reader to swallow some pretty big assumptions. First, how could Margot France birth a baby in her father’s house, on her own, without anyone knowing? How could she and her newborn baby girl, Pearl, live in a 1994 Mercury Topaz for fourteen years next to a seedy trailer park without the authorities interven ...more
Gun Love is a beautifully written poetic story about a young girl who grew up in a Mercury, meaning that her bedroom was the front seat and mom had the rear seat and the trunk functioned as the pantry. Definitely had those Mercury Blues. It was not the best arrangement but when the teenage mom and her newborn nested there in the Mercury the few months turned into fourteen years.

It's told through Pearl's point of view, which is not just a young girl's voice - a girl who never left her trailer pa
Longlisted for the National Book Award in Fiction 2018.

I wasn't familiar with Clement's work before reading this. She is a poet and novelist and this is the second part of a duology. It took me several chapters to get into the story; I had to force myself to accept the premises and the characters, which were so unrealistic that presumably they were meant to be symbolic rather than reflective of society and people as we know them. Once I did that I admired aspects of the style and story, althoug
Julie Christine
Pearl France and her mother, Margot, live in their car beside a trailer park in central Florida. They've lived there so long, the car is sinking into the vegetation. They dine off the few pieces of Limoges Margot took when she ran away from home at fourteen, pregnant with Pearl. Margot cleans at a nearby VA hospital and plays Mozart on the car dashboard; Pearl, tiny, with translucent skin and white hair, steals cigarettes from her neighbors and is fiercely protective of her dreamy, fragile mothe ...more
Erin Glover
At age 17, Margot flees from her affluent family with her newborn daughter and drives to Florida in her 1994 Mercury Topaz. Margot and her daughter whom she named Pearl, live in the Mercury in a trailer park near an odoriferous garbage dump until Pearl turns 14-years-old. Surprisingly under the circumstances, things go reasonably well for Margot and Pearl until Eli, a friend of Pastor Rex’s, the minister of the trailer park’s church, comes to town for a visit. Eli sets his sights on Margot. She ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, loc-usa-fl
Jennifer Clement may be one of the most eloquent stylist writing today, not surprising that she is the first woman to be appointed president of Pen International . This, the second of her books that I've read, reads almost like a poem even when describing horrific situations. ("I was raised in a car, and when you live in a car you’re not worried about storms and lightning, you’re afraid of a tow truck." "If you plant a seed something else grows. The ground here is puzzled." "Life was always like ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this and I am scratching my head. I closed the book and thought, "Uhhhh... huh?" This is a big fat NO for me. No. Just, no.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best novels I've read this year, I can't describe why it struck such a chord with me but I couldn't put it down. Ms. Clement's lyrical prose held me spellbound.
Margot, who grew up in a wealthy home, you might say she was born with a silver spoon. She finds herself pregnant and has a baby at 17, the baby is so white she calls her Pearl. Nobody knows about the birth of this baby, she drives away from her home with some of the items that she stole from her home, she's two months
I'm not sure how I feel about this novel. It was a quick read for me, and at no time did I want to put it down and stop reading. Yet I can't really say I enjoyed it. The subject matter was dark, which isn't an automatic turnoff for me, The Visitors and The Roanoke Girls were both four-star reads for me, despite the abominable behavior of some of their characters. For some reason, this just didn't resonate with me. I enjoy a character-driven story, but what when reading about flawed characters, d ...more
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pearl lives with her mother in a 1994 Mercury Topaz Automatic in Indian Water Trailer Park Central Florida in Putnam County, fourteen turbulent years living in that car.

The first-person narrative of Pearl is comical and naive at times, and a breath of fresh air, a voice of resilience, trust, empathy, and love against the storms that come her way.

Her story, a ballad of sorts, of misfitery against the grain and the odds with plenty heart, love and little monies, dreaming and dreamers, lost to the
This is the first of the ten books on the National Book Award for fiction longlist that I have read. I was not impressed. While I know there are people living in their cars and know about trailer parks, the characters in this book did not ring true for me.

Margot is 17 when she has a baby (Pearl) in her home (a huge house with 5 full bathrooms). Somehow no one detected her pregnancy or that she had a baby hidden in her room. At the end of the school year and after having removed a number of fami
Cody | codysbookshelf
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Gun Love is the literary equivalent of a beautiful painting: with a few strokes of her brush (or pen, as the case is) this author makes creating beauty out of tragedy seem easy, when I am sure writing this book was quite a challenge. Told in searing poetic verse, this rumination on loss and growing up is one of my favorite reads of the year thus far; this is an author I will keep my eye on. Not a word or passage or character is wasted — it is all necessary, all kept in perfect balance.

Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful words that float you out to sea and let you drown in melancholy.
Yuko Shimizu
I am completely smitten. I am in love. And that was not my plan. I just couldn't resist this gorgeous cover. That's why I picked it up.
Trailer park in the gun loving church going middle of nowhere American South? Didn't seem like a good fit for a reader whom they may call 'elitist atheist leftist'.
But I LOVED it.

This is, in a way, an Americana written with Latin American tradition. (Think Garcia Marquez, think The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.) With the magic of Clement's poetic language.
Pearl is a character I will not forget in a hurry. Really enjoyed this one. Was reminded at times of 'Sing, Unburied, Sing'- and much like that novel, I feel the first two thirds are far stronger than the last. You can almost feel the author's pace speeding up as they start to construct the end of the story, and it feels a little rushed perhaps? There was more 'action' in the final third than throughout the entire earlier part of the book. This didn't really effect my enjoyment, but it was certa ...more
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Prize Readers: 2018 NBA Longlist: Gun Love 17 20 Oct 31, 2018 12:05PM  
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Jennifer Clement is the President of PEN International and the first woman to be elected since the organization was founded in 1921. Clement grew up in Mexico City, Mexico. She studied English Literature and Anthropology at New York University and also studied French Literature in Paris, France. She has an MFA from the University of Southern Maine.

From 2009 to 2012, Clement was president of PEN Me
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“You think you get a dose of tragedy and that's that. You think it can't get any worse and that you're saved now. But tragedy is not like medicine. You don't get a dose like a pill or a spoonful. Tragedy always kicks in.” 3 likes
“Dreaming is cheap. It doesn't cost a thing. In dreams you don't have to pay the bills or pay the rent. In dreams you can buy a house and be loved back.” 2 likes
More quotes…