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Perfect Peace

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  6,238 ratings  ·  887 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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Average rating 4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,238 ratings  ·  887 reviews

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Feb 16, 2012 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
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a very unusual and 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, but also a potential film ...more
Quadrus Black
Jul 18, 2010 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 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 Clay
Jun 21, 2013 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
Apr 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is moving. A story of a heartbreaking cycle of abuse and the destruction left in its wake. I am truly floored and humbled by this story. Everyone has their burden to bare but what happens when you put it on an innocent child? This story chronicles the lives of the Peace family and all they overcome or accept in order to live. That's it, nothing extraordinary, just to live. This was a fantastic read, this should be required reading for high school students and college alike. There are lesson ...more
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
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It did not disappoint. It had a slow start but that didn't last long and I quickly was engrossed in the story. This book made me mad, happy, sad and sympathetic. I felt deeply for Perfect/Paul and the confusion he was forced to endure and figure out. I felt like Eva Mae was a critical person in his life and without her he Paul wouldn't have had more insight into male/female relationships. It warmed my heart that Caroline found love despite her size and hurt that c ...more
Jan 01, 2011 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
Lauren Cecile
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Unusual concept, skillfully executed.
Nov 11, 2011 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
Dec 27, 2012 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 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 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
Nazarene Static
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nazarene by: Christ'l Howze
Wow! Wow! Wow~!

This is perhaps one of the more unique story lines I have read about this year. Side note: I have been reading some fascinating books this year.

Perfect Peace is the story of the Peace family. Emma Jean Peace had a terrible childhood, because she wasn't as fair skinned as her sisters. She vows to herself when she is older, she will have a daughter and treat her as well as she wished her mother treated her. Since we always get what we want in life, Emma Jean gives birth to 7 boys!
Shannan Harper
Apr 28, 2015 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 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
Dec 19, 2010 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
Noir Jones
Nov 24, 2012 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
Apr 15, 2011 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! ...more
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this. I felt very at home reading it, as well. The setting, the way people talked, the personalities all felt familiar to me. This book tackled a lot of issues like toxic masculinity, colorism, gender identity, sexuality, reconciliation and the immense impact that parents have on their children and how that cycle can perpetuate. I was really impressed by how many characters there were and the great job Black did at making everyone very distinct. I never once mixed up any ...more
Ebony EyeCU Evans
Apr 17, 2013 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 prett
Feb 09, 2011 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.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Update..After processing this book a bit rating is 4 ⭐️ s.
Definitely an interesting story line..I would actually rate 3.5 ⭐️s. You have to admire the Author’s ability to draw some humor(I chuckled a time or two and felt I was being completely inappropriate 😂) from such serious and twisted issues, events and mental instability.
Sep 10, 2011 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 Perf
Jun 10, 2010 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
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, loved, favorites
The first time I read this book was in 2013. I loved it then, and I still love it, after my recent reread in preparation for a book club discussion. In 1940 when Emma Jean Peace decided to raise her 7th boy, as a little girl, she never dreamed of the repercussions, that she and her family would have to endure. I felt every emotion possible while reading the book. The plots within, were wonderful. I love the characters in this book and finding out their back stories were so interesting. Some very ...more
Davina Bell
May 06, 2011 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
Lizzie Winns
May 07, 2014 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
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Even better the second time
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The WITTY Book Cl...: *** #8: Perfect Peace by Daniel Black *** 28 20 Oct 13, 2019 01:06PM  
Very Interesting Read.... 15 119 Jan 31, 2019 09:16AM  
The Reader's Bar: February Book Discussion: Perfect Peace 12 24 Feb 23, 2017 10:17AM  
Black Coffee: August BB: Perfect Peace 18 25 Aug 16, 2014 04:00PM  
Literary Drama!: Perfect Peace -- Last discussion question 7 27 Oct 29, 2013 01:23PM  

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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-knowledge and communal commitment. He is the author of "They Tell Me of a Home" and "The Sacred Place".

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