Gun Love

Pearl has spent her entire life residing in a 1994 Mercury, in the visitor's lot of a Florida trailer park. Her teenage runaway mother parked the car, intending to stay temporarily. More than a decade later, the two still call the Mercury home. Pearl lives in the front seat and her mother in the back. Neither is unhappy with their situation, and their love for each other is unconditionally strong. Pearl attends school but has few friends. Her mother is all she needs--until Eli arrives.

The gun culture in Florida has always surrounded mother and daughter, but with the advent of Eli, it permeates the quiet safety of the sedan home and changes the entire trajectory of the pair's life.

Jennifer Clement's (Prayers for the Stolen) enchantingly poetic novel about family, love and resilience is plopped down in the midst of the debate about guns in the U.S. All around Pearl and her mother, people covet their firearms. The juxtaposition of these powerful themes, reflected subtly in the book's title, will strike readers forcefully, as will Clement's breathtaking use of language and imagery. Her sparse, well-chosen words have the force of a fired bullet: "I knew he was not a strong white flag of a person but was put together with scraps of Scotch tape and a few staples and glue."

Gun Love's ammunition piles up: dynamic, tragic characters, Pearl's strong voice, and a sense of place so acute, readers will cringe from the stench of the nearby dump. Clement has definitely hit the mark with Gun Love. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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