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Gun Love

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‘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 ‘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 cigarettes. Life on the edge of a Florida trailer park is strange enough, but when Pastor Rex’s ‘Guns for God’ programme brings Eli Redmond to town Pearl’s world is upended. Eli pays regular visits to Margot in the back seat, forcing Pearl to find a world beyond the car. Margot is given a gift by Eli, a gun of her own, just like he’s given her flowers. It sits under the driver’s seat, a dark presence… Gun Love is a hypnotic story of family, community and violence. Told from the perspective of a sharp-eyed teenager, it exposes America’s love affair with firearms and its painful consequences.

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‘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 ‘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 cigarettes. Life on the edge of a Florida trailer park is strange enough, but when Pastor Rex’s ‘Guns for God’ programme brings Eli Redmond to town Pearl’s world is upended. Eli pays regular visits to Margot in the back seat, forcing Pearl to find a world beyond the car. Margot is given a gift by Eli, a gun of her own, just like he’s given her flowers. It sits under the driver’s seat, a dark presence… Gun Love is a hypnotic story of family, community and violence. Told from the perspective of a sharp-eyed teenager, it exposes America’s love affair with firearms and its painful consequences.

30 review for Gun Love

  1. 5 out of 5

    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 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 have made it and the trailer park their home. They take showers at the community restroom and eat things that don't need refrigeration. They have neighbors that look out after them. You don't want to miss these characters...a mentally challenged woman with her Barbie dolls, a traumatized Vet, an Hispanic couple and the preacher. *yes please* Pearl even has a best friend that she steals cigarettes for and they go to the dump and look for dead animals. Good times. Then Eli comes to the trailer park. Pearl's mother becomes a different type of woman with Eli and starts making Pearl leave the car when he is around and stops going to work. This frigging author can write her butt off. I swear I actually tasted the Raid spray that Pearl's mother would spray down the car with nightly. She brings all these characters to life in your head and then when the bad stuff goes on..and you sorta knew bad stuff couldn't help but happen...you saw it through Pearl's voice and eyes. It sorta dimmed down the bad but in a way that still socked me over the head. I've not read anything quite like that experience. I would have given this the full five stars except for a few things...and I have been hating every dang book I read lately. So that's saying something. (Probably something stupid...but still) Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    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 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 magical. There is a preacher who is said to be collecting guns, taking them from people, supposed to be destroying them. When a new man enters the picture, Pearls mother is head over heels in love, and Pearls life changes. When a tragedy occurs, Pearl must find a way to move on from the past. The writing is gorgeous. When you take young children places, the places shown through their eyes takes on new meanings, as if we, the adults were seeing them for the first time. Clement does the same with her writing, her phrases, a magical quality to her writing that left an indelible mark on this reader. The story is a simple one, but her use of langage makes it anything but. We are in fact reading the story with new eyes. The ending gave me somewhat of a pause, not sure if I liked it, but I guess with everything that came before it was fitting. "Since she could see under the wind and husk; my mother was always getting mixed up, stirred up with a spoon, shaken like a milkshake With the wrong people all the time." "But sweetness is always looking for Mr. Bad and Mr. Bad can pick Out Miss Sweet in any crowd - just like magnets. Mr. Bad was the Refrigerator and Miss Sweet was the Florida loves Oranges magnet sticking to the door." A heartfelt story and a timely one. ARC from Edelweiss.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ FLOAT. 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 Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ FLOAT. 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 trailer park anytime soon and since I have Old Lady Brain that's a flippin' miracle all on its own. I was lucky enough to score an ARC of this before anyone except Shelby was peeing their pants over it. I was doubly lucky to score a hard copy from a place called Blogging for Books that just shut their doors after a good run of offering freebies to anyone who wanted to review them. I wanted to take a second to say thanks to the various websites and authors and publishers who provide reader copies to us little guys. I don't expect my reviews help sell many additional copies of books, so it's a real honor to be able to read stuff before everyone else. Especially real quirky stuff like Gun Love that might just find its target audience amongst my friend list. ORIGINAL REVIEW: 4.5 Stars Current situation: Except, you know, it’s the death flu this time. Lucky for me I’m already dead inside so it wasn’t able to murder me. I did want to take a time-out from my hacking my right lung out in order to put something up about this in case it is still available for request. If you’re like me, you try your darndest to steer clear of NetGalley because you already fear you will soon be appearing on A&E when your family stages an intervention for your addiction. It’s then you rely on people like My Better Half to tell you about not-to-miss items. In this case, she didn’t even get a chance to read the thing because I wanted it from the title alone. Not to mention the synopsis told me it was going to be about a girl who not only straight up lives in a car, but that said car is NEXT TO A TRAILER PARK(!!!!), in the great state of Florida . . . . Where the local man of the cloth preaches on Sundays and runs guns the rest of the days of the week. I pretty much looked like this before I even started . . . . By the time I was finished I was like . . . . Sorry, too much Olympic viewing the past few days. I don’t really know what to say about this story. You’re dropped in on Pearl’s life for little more than a moment and yanked right back out again. There’s not much “before” to learn about and there’s certainly no epilogue detailing the after. The story is very much in the now and the viewpoint is completely Pearl’s. Gun Love earns its Stars for the same reason many will subtract them – the writing. You’re either going to love it or hate it and obviously I fall into the former category. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    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 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 Pearl, and her mother Margot live in a car that is standing in a trailer park in Florida. Margot gave birth to Pearl when she was only 16 and consequently fled her affluent, but cruel father. Many of the other inhabitants of the trailer park are also average people who fell on hard times: There are Mexican immigrants, a former teacher with a disabled daughter who lost everything after her now deceased husband fell ill and she had to pay high medical bills, and a one-legged veteran with his family, all of them now stranded on a piece of land close to a dump, next to a polluted river that produces baby conjoined twin alligators and a skink with twelve legs. When the dubious local pastor allows a young man named Eli to live with him, announcing to help out an old friend, Margot falls in love with Eli, unassuming of what this might mean for her and Pearl... As the title suggests, guns are everywhere, and they have assumed almost spiritual powers: While everything we associate with life - people, animals, nature - dies, the guns seem to have eternal lives, they are elevated from objects to actors, as their pure presence influences the outcome of situations. Pearl senses the presence of Native American spirits, she constantly hears the songs her music-loving mother taught her, and she feels how the guns radiate the lives they have taken and that they will take. Although the people are dominated by the gun culture, they love their guns: A mutilated veteran, his own body destroyed by weapons, still enjoys unnecessarily shooting an animal, and men spend time "killing the river" (shooting at the riverbed) and even shooting at the sky, "shooting angels". Kids grow up with Gun Coloring Books, and when they become orphans because their parents got shot, they are referred to as "shoots". Guns are an economic factor, and people's idols don't give them hope anymore - they have been shot. Another important theme is poison: People pollute the environment, they drink, eat and breathe in poison, and they emanate poison through toxic behavior. It is interesting to note that animal cadavers (and probably also human corpses) are scattered over the dump where kids play, and where the dead become poisonous for the living. I love how masterfully Clement plays with these themes throughout her story. The whole atmosphere she evokes, everything told through the eyes of Pearl, is menacing, bleak and mesmerizing - I could not put this book down. Instead of chasing the American Dream, Margot advises Pearl to flee by dreaming herself away - is this today's America? This book is highly topical, but also very poetic and full of ingenious metaphors. A very powerful novel, and a very worthy contestant for the NBA.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Edward Lorn

    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 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 most of this reading experience. I appreciate that Clement did not bash the reader over the head with her own politics, whatever they may be; I don't know what they are because she allows the story to evolve naturally instead of forcing the story to answer difficult questions. I was concerned that this book would be extreme in its anti-gun, or pro-gun, message, but that was not the case. Good people and bad people alike own and use guns in this story, so the final judgment is left for the reader to decide. I dig that. Where this book truly shines though is with the diverse cast. I hated some and absolutely fell in love with others, but my own personal favorites were the Sergeant and Corazón, even though I'm not 100% sure I should have liked either. I loved when they were on the page and I missed them when they were gone. Whether or not I was suppose to have fallen in love with them, who knows, but they were the most interesting characters in the book for me, which is not to say that the rest of the cast was uninteresting, they were, but I preferred reading about the Sergeant and Corazón most of all. The ending was exceptional. This is one of those books that fulfill every promise it makes early in the read, and that's all it took for me to five star this joker. In summation: I'm new to Jennifer Clement but this book has made me a fan. I'll be looking up her back catalog soon. Highly recommended. Final Judgment: The only preaching in this book is done in church. Video review: https://youtu.be/iu51wfMA_14 GUN LOVE was sent to me in exchange for my honest review, which you have just read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    "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 "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 bad! Ugh. I couldn't figure out if she was suffering from mental illness, or if she was just a selfish, arrogant jerk? There were some emotional moments in this book, but for the most part, I found myself skimming most chapters. The last 50 pages were the strongest, but just when this baby started getting good, it ends abruptly. I had high hopes for this one. If you like character-driven novels then "Gun Love" might tickle your fancy. It's a mixed bag for me. Thank you, Penguin Random House for the giveaway ARC. This book is scheduled to be released March 6, 2018.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    First part of the book is superstrong but near the end went it from 4 stars to 3 stars because of how boring it went , but I thought the ending was well done , I enjoyed it but didn't love.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ace

    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 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 nulled the impact of the gunfire and it is probably indicative of the way we see our surroundings. If everything is so messed up, then how can one messed up thing be worse than the other?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    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 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 interact with public education only sporadically, and their parents have little access to steady work or medical care. Pearl’s world, an enclave of subsistence living, is fenced in by . . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    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 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 Rainbow. Pearl's narration is Clement's best achievement here – a charming medley of unsophisticated lyricism that somehow manages to be believable, too. (You can see how a girl raised on country ballads and her mother's sentimentality might learn to speak and think like this.) Whenever the plot takes a more dramatic turn, its events seem to have a curious lack of impact. There's a climactic episode that divides the book in two, and I never really felt any sense of how it affected Pearl. The circumstances she finds herself in are so often lacking in the kind of detail that makes real life so difficult; she just carries on, drifting through it all in a daze like someone who's permanently, happily, stoned. There is a lot of tragedy and misfortune in Gun Love, but this is a story that concentrates more on language than emotion. It makes more sense, to me, to see Gun Love as a make-believe story Pearl tells herself. Her own private myth, a way to spin a protective layer over the painful truth. A moonlit midnight wedding, a homeless family with a cache of priceless treasures, a miraculous rescue, murder without consequence: these are all the stuff of fantasies, even if some of them are darker fantasies than others. I received an advance review copy of Gun Love from the publisher through NetGalley. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    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 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 selling of these death weapons, the shooting of baby alligators for sport, or the violence that stalks us, it’s hard to break away from the allure of firearms. Yet surprisingly, it is the “love” not the “gun” part of the book’s title that, I suspect, will remain with me. Jennifer Clement creates a unique protagonist in young Pearl, a 10-year-old albino (or near-albino) whose entire life has been spent living in a ’94 Mercury with her mother Margot. Margot escaped the trappings of wealth – and the abusiveness of her father – when she secretly gave birth to Pearl and has avoided detection ever since. The description of their living arrangements, parked feet from a trailer park in a small down-and-out Florida town, comes alive as Pearl matter-of-factly considers her living arrangements. Take this for example: “When you live in a car there’s no surface for a vase of flowers. My mother would cut the stems short and arrange the flowers in an empty tin of powdered milk that she filled with water Then she placed the bouquet outside on the roof as if the roof were a mantelpiece.” The trailer park and the denizens feel real and Pearl’s life is authentically portrayed. Anyone who has read her prior book already know her style fastidious attention to details, fully realized characters, inventive and often enchanting analogies, underscored by a strong message. Sometimes this message is overplayed but it is still a just message. From the first two lines, “My mother was a cup of sugar. You could borrow her anytime”, it’s evident that Jennifer Clement knows her craft.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Will

    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 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 polluted river, its bottom filled with the spent bullets from people shooting at unseen crocodiles. Clement does a wonderful job at creating a setting filled with despair and the sense of peril. She does an equally good job in her depictions of the down-on-their-luck residents of the trailer park. With its hint of the Southern Gothic, Clement presents a vivid portrait of an off-the-grid slice of America. There were plots twists that surprised me and others that were predictable, but the story is certainly one that is resonant for our current times. If this all sounds overwhelmingly depressing, Clement gives Pearl a precocious voice, witty and sarcastic, containing enough dark humor to add balance to a foreboding story told against such a bleak background. Although I haven’t read it in other reviews, there were times I found the novel quite funny in that ‘black comedy’ way. This all brings me to Clement’s writing which is what truly bowled me over. Anyone who knows me well or have read other reviews by me knows that I am a great admirer of a spare prose style, one in which a few carefully chosen words are used to great effect. Clement is a master at crafting sentences that are short, polished gems, sentences that often stopped me dead in my tracks. I would read a line, read it again and think, ‘I should write this down, I should remember this.’ She has the rare ability to startle the reader with a few words - it may be a beautiful, lyrical description or something smart and quick used to comic effect. Most admirable is her amazing ability to capture the truth of the human spirit and the human condition in one short sentence.

  13. 4 out of 5

    ♥ 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 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 that I would like that story better or at least understand her writing methods. This was not a book that I was totally absorbed in. I did not like any of the characters, however I could empathize with Pearl. Having moved a lot as a child I could understand the isolation in Pearls life. Living in a car, with a free living mother, was not the worst she would face in life.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    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 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 observant of her surroundings. Pearl, born into homelessness, never had a birth certificate. "My life was 9 words long" she explained. Margot advised her daughter; "Don't worry about yourself--you'll never be found, because you've never been missing." Living in a run down trailer park, the only friend Pearl has ever had was April-May. The girls roamed and explored the dump and found a few treasures. Alligators from a swamp nearby were worrisome, and gun shots were heard at all hours of the day and night. Pearl learned to read the signs, as her mother cautioned her to listen to the spirits of the ancient Indian's that came out at night and roamed the area. Margot lived in fear that Pearl would be removed from her care and placed in a foster home. Pearl never thought about her mother's mental stability or their lack of housing. Instead, the mother daughter pair remained vigilant and kept a low profile. When Margot became involved with a new lover, Pearl needed to find somewhere else to do her homework. At an abandoned trailer she learned more about the hidden gun culture that began to shape her life. Pastor Ray's church sponsored a gun buy back program and Pearl was befriended by a Mexican-American woman, who literally took Pearl under her wing and kept very close tabs on her. We learn the reasons for this later in the book, as the storyline tragically turned in the senseless brutality of gun violence and murder. Pearl realized too, she needed to protect herself and hid a handgun amongst her belongings. Gun Love is a remarkable unforgettable story of intuition and survival. * With thanks to the Seattle Public Library.

  15. 5 out of 5

    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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    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 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 park for fourteen years, but has so many wonderful candy-coated phrases spit out. Not only was Pearl's mom a bit offbeat and maybe not quite right upstairs but the folks who planted themselves in the Park were just as offbeat and odd. From gun-collecting preachers to Barbie doll collecting women, to the Mexican woman who someday hopes to visit Selena's grave, it was a world of its own, set in Florida, but it's own state of mind. This book is incredibly successful at what it tries to do. Great work! Thanks to Penguin Publishing for providing a copy for review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bernadette

    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 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 waft into the park where only four other families reside. Pearl and her mother have resided there since Margot ran from her wealthy family shortly after the secret birth of Pearl. Clement’s characters are well drawn and complex. Mrs. Roberta Young lives with her grown daughter, developmentally delayed Noelle, who plants her Barbie Dolls like flowers around the trailer. Pearl has one friend, April May, but the girl’s father is an unhinged gun fanatic. Corazon, another resident of the park, has only one goal: to visit the grave of murdered Tejano singing star Selena. Pastor Rex is a minister who hosts such religious activities like the “Drive Thru Prayer” program and “Give Your Guns to God.” The pastor’s gun buy-back brings all kinds of people into the park. One of these people is Eli, and the pastor tells the congregation that Eli is a “fallen man.” Pearl is disheartened when her mother falls in love with Eli. Pearl knows that Eli is bad news from the start. Eli is just one of Margot’s poor decisions. She is naïve and too empathic for her own good; even allowing an unknown young homeless man to sleep in the car with her and her teenaged daughter. Her decisions will ultimately lead to tragedy. This sad novel is about the mother-daughter relationship, community, abandonment and gun culture in America. Ms. Clement is a gifted author whose prose is often lyrical. On a personal note: I was offended by Ms. Clement’s portrayal of a Child Protective Services (CPS) worker in Gun Love. As a social worker, I’ve known many CPS and foster care workers. For the last eleven years, I have worked as a CPS worker, investigating child abuse and neglect. I’ve seen the tired, cliched characterizations of horrible CPS workers on television. Ms. Clement chooses to create a character that perpetuates the stereotype of the uncaring detached female as caseworker. Thanks for indulging my rant. It's important for people to know that Ms. Clement's character is in no way typical of an entire profession.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    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 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 intervening? And, I have to believe the smell of such living arrangements—in hot, humid Florida—would become unbearable. I don’t care if they did spray Raid every day—it had to be noxious. So—setting all that aside—this is fundamentally a story about family and community. Margot is a sweet-natured woman who lives in her dreams and songs. She works as a cleaning woman at the Veterans Hospital, at least until she meets up with Eli Redmond. Margot falls in love with this dodgy character, quits her job, and sells all of her possessions for a fraction of their worth. Eli deals in guns. Pastor Rex lives in the trailer park next door and runs a ‘Give Your Guns to God’ campaign. He then works with Eli to sell them to a group of traffickers. Indeed, the trailer park is filled with guns and the inhabitants use them regularly—like shooting into the river to scare off (or kill) alligators. Men give women gifts of guns as signs of their affection. Dreamy Margot walks straight towards Eli’s friend she named ‘Don’t Come Back’, even though he is pointing a gun straight at her. His ‘gun love’ shoots 20 bullets into her fragile body. Her death concludes the first part of the novel. In the next section, Pearl ends up in Child Protective Services before being rescued by another of the trailer park residents, Corizon. And before you know it, Pearl’s life is brushing up against those of the gun runners once again. Clement provides a glimpse of the gun culture some marginal communities hold dear.

  19. 5 out of 5

    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 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 invites him into the Mercury. And everything changes. Pearl is banished from the Mercury when Eli is there, which is all the time. The first thing Pearl notices about Eli is his rifle. Suddenly, Pearl notices that guns are everywhere. Neighbors in the trailer park have them to shoot at alligators, to kill deer, and for protection. Then Pearl’s life is permanently altered by a gun shot. She begins a journey that introduces her to others whose lives are unalterably changed by gun shots. The ending is stunning. Clement never proselytizes about guns. She avoids the whole gun control debate. But you may find yourself picking a side after reading the book. Clement’s writing is crisp and concise. I compared her sentences to a few from Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and they’re similar. She doesn’t waste space with flowery paragraphs. Clement is wonderful with metaphors, similes, and descriptions. Here’s how she described Pearl’s love for a boy: When I looked at Leo for the first time from my window I knew my arm was broken. I’d fallen down all the stairs. A train was coming down the tracks. And because I was so sad, I knew I loved him. I’ll definitely be on the look out for Clement’s next book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    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 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 mother. They live on so many edges, these two castaways. The edge of poverty and homelessness, the edge of violence, where alligators snatch the unsuspecting in shallow water and pastors hustle guns on the side. When Margot meets the sly and sensual Eli Redmond, Pearl's tentative hold on stability is wrenched away. Gun Love is a poetic ballad of mother-daughter love and loss. The steamy nowhere of Florida, Margot's riches-to-rags past, the collection of quirky, unsettling neighbors, and the sudden bursts of violence give the narrative a surreal, fairy-tale quality, in contrast to the very real obsession with guns and the aftermath of gun violence it portrays. This is a short, sharp, unforgettable read. Pearl will pierce your heart with her plight and her wisdom. Clement's writing will take your breath away. Highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sunita

    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 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, although it never really worked for me. The narrator, whose POV is the only one presented, is a 15 year old girl named Pearl who lives with her mother in a 1994 Mercury Topaz at the edge of a trailer park in central Florida. Pearl goes to school and Margot goes to a cleaning job at the local VA hospital, but those are the only "normal" things about them. Margot became pregnant at 15 and ran away from her abusive father and her wealthy life, taking only a few very valuable keepsakes with her. The trailer park's popoulation is down to a handful of residents, including a preacher, a veteran with PTSD and his wife and daughter (the latter is Margot's close friend), a Mexican couple, and a mother and grown daughter (the latter collects Barbie dolls). You get the picture: we have Florida picaresque-gothic. In case we don't get the message, Pearl visits a circus museum later in the novel. The book is divided into three parts. The first part describes the everyday lives of the trailer park residents' and Margot and Pearl's lives. It's quirky and other-worldly, but the only thing really out of the ordinary is that there seems to be gun running, organized by the preacher. Then Eli the stranger comes to town, Margot falls in love with him, and the plot kicks into gear. In the second and third parts Pearl's life changes dramatically. At first it seems she might, against all odds, find some stability but then it becomes clear that she won't. The ending is left open but it is somewhat hopeful, especially given the alternatives. The writing is extremely poetic and there are motifs that are repeated over and over. There is a lot of symbolic imagery. That style is juxtaposed with events that in real life would be extremely harsh and traumatic, but here they are muted because of the romanticism of the presentation. The characters are almost entirely unbelievable, although most of them (except for Margot), make sense in terms of what seems to be the overall conception of the novel, as long as you accept that all the representatives of the state are villains. Margot makes absolutely no sense as anything but an endless plot device, even within these pages. This is a problem because everything that is set in motion in the story happens directly or indirectly through Margot. The title and various reviews suggest the novel is a meditation on the role of guns in United States and Mexican society and the damage they cause, but that part failed for me. The decision to make gun running part of a surreal landscape peopled by carnivalesque characters is interesting from a fictional point of view, but it undercuts the reality of gun culture in the US: it's banal and everyday and the omnipresence of gun culture is due to the extent to which ordinarily people support and reinforce it. The expansion of legal gun ownership and the possibility that anyone can have a gun is what makes gun culture so terrifying. I'm sure gun running plays a part and is responsible for problems in US and Mexican communities. But if you think about many of the senseless mass shootings of the past few years, they involved guns that were legally purchased. Making the gun story about unreal people takes us away from understanding that. If the author wanted to highlight the international and border dimensions, it would have made more sense to focus on that, rather than Margot, Pearl and their trunk full of valuables (which Margot wouldn't sell to get them out of the car but which she sold for other, less believable reasons). Oh, Chekhov's gun does its job in this novel. There are many layers of meaning packed into a short wordcount, and technically there is much to admire about the book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    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 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 shoes on the wrong foot."). In Section One we meet Pearl who has lived her entire 13 year life in the front seat of a 1994 Mercury in the parking lot of a Florida trailer park. Ironically, the day I started this book, our movie club was screening The Florida Project, and I couldn't help but notice the similarities. Unfortunately, the plot somewhat stalls in the second and third acts, and without revealing why, I'll only say these sections didn't soar as high as the first. Clement's description the lives of women attached to Mexican cartels, Prayers for the Stolen, was one of my favorite books of 2014, and this one, despite its flaws, will surely be a favorite of this year.

  24. 5 out of 5

    debra

    So well written, very sad, but also hopeful in that there is true kindness along with the douches,scumbags fu*kfaces ( much more pc and gender neutral) to be found in the world

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

    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 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 away from graduating high school, but she leaves in this 1994 Burgundy Mercury and drives to a run-down trailer park and parks the Mercury in visiting parking lot and doesn't move it for the next 13 yrs. There are just a few of the trailers that are occupied the residents are pretty eccentric but they feel safe there. Margot and Pearl live a somewhat normal life in the Mercury, Margot gets a job working at the local VA hospital in the custodian department. Pearl goes to school and when Margot returns home from work they have dinner in the car, they discuss their day and do homework just like they lived in a home. Margot is different she lives in a dreamlike state, she's an empath, she feels other peoples pain and she has such a lyrical way of describing the people they meet. Everything is going fine until Pastor Rex decides to have a gun for Jesus program, this brought a lot of unsavory people to the trailer park. Pastor Rex, tells his parishioners that it's to get guns off the street. A drifter by the name of Eli moves in with Pastor Rex and he tells everyone that he's down on his luck and he's helping him get back on his feet. Of course, Eli seeks out the ethereal Margot and she falls hard for him. Margot knows something isn't right with him but she's taken to him in spite of what she's feeling. Things take a drastic change for Pearl once Eli comes into the picture, her mom isn't available as she was before or the car. Pearl also learns that there is more to this program that meets the eye. This novel is a great read, it's descriptive setting, the quirky characters plus the story itself is one of those novels that grab you and after you finish the novel you find yourself thinking about it. I've never read anything by Ms. Clement's before but she's got a new fan in this reader. I was provided a copy of this e-galley from First-to-Read for my honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    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 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, depth of understanding their character is what I find very satisfying. Here, many of the characters seemed like stereotypes. I thought the writing was compelling enough to keep me interested, but in the end I just didn't end up connecting with it enough to truly enjoy it. It strikes me as a Book where a good writer has a deadline, or for whatever reason finished the book without fully developing all of the characters and the story. Thank you to Penguin's First to read program for providing me with an advance copy for review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    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 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 terrors that come their way in mobile, in the trailer park, and up against ma’s new love Eli. Something like Joy Williams and Flannery O’Connor, and maybe voices in To Kill A Mockingbird and Sound and Fury and As I Lay Dying. The mind of the young pearl, with all her joy and pain, a memorable female character full of guts and heart, that will remain in the readers mind for a time, due to a great job done in craft of this narrative by the author, one that stirs the heart and evoke in the readers mind her life with all the vivid desperation and loss coupled with resilience, courage and joy for life. No heavy prose within, simplicity and lucidity, a melody of telling with chaos in order, in linear order, with a pursuit of happiness, not over a picket fence, and just one that hopes to have furniture, a chair, a desk, and a real bed, a heartfelt journey of young spirted Pearl with joy and pains, through obstacles, through belonging, and love lost and found. Review with excerpts @ https://more2read.com/review/gun-love-by-jennifer-clement/

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    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 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 certainly a change enough for me to notice. An almost magical realist/somewhat psychic element is utilised in Pearl and her mother in order to bring the conversation of gun violence to the forefront of this story, and I think this gives an interesting perspective on America's current climate. One thing I would say is that I query the focus placed on the fact that Pearl has albinism. I'm not sure this was at all integral to the story line, and it quite rightly shouldn't have to be, but I worry the character was just given this trait in order to tick a diversity box... Does anyone else who's read this feel the same? Overall, not what I expected, but for me that's almost always a positive! I purchased the gorgeous US version of this for my shelves, but was also provided with an ebook version from Random House UK via Netgalley for an honest opinion.

  29. 4 out of 5

    LindaJ^

    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 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 family "heirlooms," Margot takes Pearl and drives her car to a parking lot the edge of a trailer park built next to a garbage dump. Margot and Pearl live in the car for almost 15 years. Margot purports to not want her daughter taken by child services, but suddenly she takes up with Eli and banishes her daughter from the car whenever Eli arrives, gives up her job, and sells all the family heirlooms. Doesn't make any sense to me. Then Margot is killed and Pearl is taken in by child welfare. As a "shoot" (a kid who's parent or parents have been shot), she needs immediate shelter and ends up with a 79 year old man who already has two shoots in residence. Pearl promptly falls in love with the boy. Then the Mexican woman from the trailer park shows up and convinces Pearl to leave the temporary shelter with her. I get all the "gun love" but I just don't buy the Margot character. Cannot believe she got mixed up with Eli. This is a 2.5 rounded up to a 3 star read. I firmly believe this will be in the bottom half of my rankings for the 2018 NBA in fiction.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cody | codysbookshelf

    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. Recommend 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. Recommended to all readers who enjoy rewarding literary fiction.

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