Saturday, January 9, 2010


I am embarrassed to say that I have never read any of Steinbeck's novels.  Ever.  Despite buying this novella years ago, AND buying East of Eden back when it was an Oprah pick, I had not read either.  Until now.  A neighbor of ours (and our amazing teenage babysitter) had an English assignment to read The Pearl, so I told her I would read it with her as I had a copy.  At 87 pages, the book is small, but mighty.  The story is so beautifully told it breaks your heart. As you read, you feel as if you are watching a movie, the images are vivid and you can feel, smell, hear, and see everything that Steinbeck creates within the story. 

The Pearl is a story that everyone can relate to.  Kino is a poor man with a beautiful little family.  He has a wife, Juana and their precious little baby Coyotito.  The start of the book is very idealic as we see their familial bliss and quiet peaceful life.  They seem very happy and completely in love with their little baby and each other.  From the very beginning Steinbeck talks about the music that Kino hears in his mind/heart, that accompanies the storyline like a soundtrack. 

While they are gazing upon their baby in his little swinging box, they suddenly see a scorpian hanging from one of the ropes.  This is another of Steinbeck's many gifts, I believe, creating extremely tension filled suspenseful moments that have you holding your breath.  Before they can decide how to rid the rope of the scorpian, it falls into the crib and stings their son. 

What follows is their attempt to find help for their baby, and they seek to gain the expertise of a very corrupt local (and only) doctor.  Clearly they have no money, and therefore he has no interest in treating their son, whose arm is now swelling at an alarming rate. 

Kino is then determined to find a way to pay the doctor, and they take their little boat and begin harvesting oysters in the hopes that one will reveal a pearl with which to pay the doctor. 

Will they find a pearl to save their son? 

As usual I do not want to include a complete summary of the novella, so you can go in fresh.  There are PLENTY of places online to find a summary of the book if you want, as The Pearl is a classic and is many times chosen for classroom study. 

What I can tell you is that I loved it.  It completely enveloped me and carried me along this harrowing journey of innocence, despair, hope, greed and corruption. I felt my heart soar and sink with each passing page.  The power of Steinbeck's writing is incredible, and I plan on immediately reading East of Eden now, and it will fit nicely into 3 of my challenges as well! 

I hope you have a chance to read this, and anyone you love.  It is such a powerful story and a testament that a book does not have to be large to be masterful.

RATING:  5/5

8 Blabs:

brizmus said...

You're so right - Steinbeck is awesome, and this story really is just so powerful!
Great review!

Unknown said...

Great review Womaaans!!! I must say, your writing style is as exceptional as the books you review!!! Not EVEN Kidding.

I'm a HUGE Steinbeck fan~always have been. The first one I read of his was, Mice and Men. And of course, Grapes of Wrath.
But I must confess I have never read this one. I'll be sure to keep my eye out for it.

Lauren {Geeb} said...

The Pearl is a story that has stuck with me my whole life. I read it when I was a freshman in High School and now 12 years later I think about out it often. You MUST read Of Mice and Men now that you are a new found Steinbeck fan.

Happy Reading!

deborah said...

Geez Lisa!!! Sometimes I hate myself for reading your blog - my list of books to read is growing and I am getting nothing done!!?!?! :) jj

I'm off to the library today, and I will look for this one!

Carol said...

I can't believe you've never read a Steinbeck! You're be hooked now aren't you? Go for Tortilla Flat first, see the humourous side of Steinbeck, then back to East of Eden, onto the Pastures of Heaven (Los Pastures del Cielo) before settling into The Grapes of Wrath. Yes I'm a little obsessed. If you need to borrow any of them I own them all. :) Great review.

Lisa said...

Hey Carol: Good to know! I am definately going to check out Tortilla Flat, never even heard of it! I love getting tips on how to break into a "new" author! :0)

Lisa said...

Brizmus: Thanks for your kind words!
Michele: I didn't know you were a huge fan! I can lend you my copy of The Pearl if you want.

Lauren: I will definately check out Of mice and Men as well, I haven't seen the movie either, so I'll go in totally FRESH!

Deborah: (blush) sorry about that! I think you would be a BRILLIANT book blogger! You should seriously consider it! You would be such a great addition to our blogging community! I LOVE your comments here, thank you!

Eva said...

I'm reading Dancing in the Dark: a Cultural History of the Great Depression, and it's totally making me want to read more Steinbeck! My faves of his are East of Eden and Travels w/ Charley, but I haven't read The Pearl. I'm thinking about reading several of his shorter works this year...Tortilla Flat looks good too!

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