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Publisher's Summary

Set in small town Mississippi in the late 1950s, Mother of Pearl is populated by wonderfully rich and original characters with themes of identity and the true meaning of family interwoven throughout. The story revolves around 28-year-old Even Grade, a black man who grew up an orphan, and Valuable Komer, a 15-year-old white girl who is the daughter of the town whore and an unknown father. Their paths cross through Joody Two Sun, a seer, who becomes Even's lover. Both Even and Valuable are seeking the family, love, and commitment they never had, and their search ultimately takes both of them to places they never dreamed they'd go.
Cover Illustration © Cathie Bleck; Copyright ©1999 Melinda Haynes; Copyright (P)1999 NewStar Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • An Oprah Book Club Selection

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall

How wrong can one man be?

At first I wasn't going to listen to any of Oprah's choices. "Books for women," I said. Then I needed something for a trip and listened to "Icy Sparks". After that I knew I was wrong about Oprah's picks and immediately downloaded "Secret Life of Bees". After listening to that superb book, I knew I was really wrong. But "Mother of Pearl"...top of the list. Beautiful prose. Wonderful characters. Outstanding voice reading the story. I'm hooked. You go, Oprah.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Anne
  • Royal Oak, MI, USA
  • 02-22-04

Abridged Version is Very Jumpy

I have really struggled with this book. Usually when I listen to my audiobooks, I linger in my car, stalling until the last minute to go into work. With this book, I felt like I had to force myself to keep listening.

There are several main characters, and the author jumps from one to the next. I agree with the reviewer that said the narrator was too chatty. I often didn't realize that we had jumped to a new character I ended up rewinding the book to reorient myself. Maybe the problem is that the book is abridged.... I don't know for sure, but I feel like I wasted a good audio credit on this one.

I will say that the characters are unique and interesting, such as african american woman who is a seer of sorts. There is sort of magical realism or divine quality to the book because of her. I guess I will just say that if you are interested in this book, perhaps you should try the unabridged version. To me, this version was a dud.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pamela
  • Pinetop, AZ, USA
  • 02-20-04

Narrator is very chatty

The narrator is very chatty, making it difficult to differentiate between characters. There is an overwhelming darkness around the characters and the story presented. I do not recommend this book if you are looking for an uplifting story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Bittersweet

What did you love best about Mother of Pearl?

Told the story of a little girl as she stretched to womanhood.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The girl.

What does Nana Visitor bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Intonation, pulled all the characters together

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • ROCIO
  • SYLMAR, CA, United States
  • 07-02-12

audible is very helpful

Would you listen to Mother of Pearl again? Why?

The book itself is quite complex; the audible book made the whole following along process so much easier. I would definitely recommend audible.com.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Valuable Korner because whe was a resilient character

What does Nana Visitor bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

the suspense

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no

  • Overall
  • Alison
  • frances town, NH, USA
  • 03-16-07

Southern Gothic in the Mud

The author, Melinda Haynes, has devoted much energy to assembling a colorful cast of Southern characters whose lives intertwine. After a slow start, the novel takes off, only to become mired in repetitive and lurid speculations about the fate of a few of the protagonists.

Most troubling to me was the stereotyping, particularly of the lesbian couple. Some of the black characters, dealt with most sympathetically, are nonetheless assigned the role of redeemers of the errant whites - no favor to the black characters!

The writing is intuitive, somewhat long-winded but highly evocative. That might sustain readers' interest.

Ntozake Shange's "Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo" would be my recommendation for those interested in this genre.

  • Overall

A wonderful read...

Take the time to read this as it is a wonderful story and a way to feel life in the 50's through the eyes and hearts of a goup of beautiful African Americans.