Book Review: Mother of Pearl by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as the high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out...or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach.

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, MOTHER OF PEARL brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.

Release Date: September 1, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Source: NetGalley

Oh, I loved this book!  Just as the summary says, it is emotionally riveting and profoundly moving.  I cried and cried while reading Mother of Pearl (outright crying while reading is a rare thing for me).  I was sitting on my couch during my baby's nap time, with a box of tissues next to me.  The book was just so moving, I could not hold the tears in.  I don't think I would have been so affected, but for the fact that I am a mother now and could really identify with Barrie.  That's not to say that Mother of Pearl was a depressing book.  There were sad events, to be sure, but ultimately the book was uplifting and ended on a positive note.    

Mother of Pearl is written from Barrie's perspective---which I loved.  I've read so many coming-of-age stories written from the teen's point-of-view, it was nice to read one from the mother's perspective.  Except that Mother of Pearl was much more than a coming-of-age story.  It was about so many things: the relationships within a family and extended family, people dealing with overwhelming loss, and people growing in faith (or coming to faith for the first time).  Gilbert writes about a messy situation---one that is becoming all too common in our society, and how it affects one family, and the community as a whole.

I loved reading about all of the relationships in Barrie's life.  From her relationship with her husband and children, to her interactions and troubled past with her own mother, to her friendships with her coworkers, every interaction served to enlighten the reader to Barrie's character.  She changes so much throughout the novel, and grows in ways she never thought possible.  I loved how she transformed from someone who shied away from Christians and inwardly groaned whenever someone brought up God or faith, to someone who comes to lean on God in all things.  By the end of the book, Barrie's view on the world is totally transformed, through events which are horrifying but ultimately strengthen her and mold her into a new person.

Gilbert's pacing was excellent.  Mother of Pearl covers about a year in time (I'm approximating here) without feeling like the story jumped around or moved too fast or too slow.  The story moved at just the right pace, which kept me reading long past the time I thought I would stop.   

I was so, so happy with the ending of this book.  I loved the way Gilbert handled the events that concluded the story.  She turned the focus towards inner change, and ultimately, activism on Barrie's part.  I loved seeing the glimpse into the future and how Barrie becomes an advocate for troubled teens.  I'm trying hard not to say too much because I don't want to give the story away.

If you're a fan of contemporary fiction, women's fiction, or Christian fiction, this book's for you.  If you typically shy away from Christian fiction, be advised that the faith element is subtle enough for those new to the genre to like the book.  I absolutely loved it and cannot wait to read more from Kellie Coates Gilbert!



  1. Hi, I've tagged you in this post!

    Have a great day!
    Great Review

  2. Ok so this sounds awesome but your tears scare me. I'm secretly afraid someone dies and I don't think I can handle that.

    Ever since I became a mom, my heart can't bear another mom losing her baby.

    Great review.


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