Let’s No One Get Hurt – Jon Pineda
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Final Thoughts: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pearl is a teenager desperately trying to come of age in the midst of her own chaotic world. She lives with her father and two fellow squatters in an abandoned shack within a land development space. Their southern ways of life are harsh, impoverished, and wild, but they are a tight-knit unit brought together by the hardships of life. Pearl meets the son of one of the masters of the universe in the spread of mansions nearby. Main Boy, as she calls him, offers her shelter and intimacy, but his pack of wannabe-Lost Boy rich friends see her as an easy butt of their jokes. She is the toughest of teenage girls, and she refuses to let her heart get bruised when Main Boy tosses it around carelessly. The primitive life she leads and the emotional maturity she’s curated propel her above the mucky waters of circumstance.
This is a coming-of-age story like no other. Jon Pineda’s darkly southern narrative is hopeful, but not optimistic. It is charming, but dingy. It is lovely, but heartbreaking. Pearl is innocent, but has a skin made of steel. Her family is fractured, but it is enough.
Her first encounter with love is shattering, but Pearl refuses to be shattered. The class difference between her and Main Boy is an enormous chasm; ultimately, their young love is doomed, subject to the cruelty of socioeconomic contrast, and when it implodes, it pulls our heartstrings into the blast.
Pineda’s voice is incredible. I have a habit of stumbling upon novels written by poets, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I discovered that Pineda fits that bill exactly. His prose is poetry with momentum. His writing gives me the image of lace doilies tinged with the grime, dirt, and blood of Pearl’s unyielding way of life. At the same time that he has built a world without luxury, his protagonist is a young girl who is capable of fierce adaptation. The beautiful language is tactfully used to narrate Pearl’s thoughts in a world without material beauty. In the same page of describing how she hits a fish or sets hunting traps, he swiftly delivers the most concisely graceful thoughts. I’m in love with Pineda’s writing. Many of the phrases threaded throughout the story would be in my Quote Hall if Fame, ifI had one (I should really make one).
Pineda’s dreamy prose is jumpy, and slightly erratic at times. We follow Pearl’s stream of consciousness, and she is a girl who likes to ponder. Ever so occasionally, I had to remind myself of plot points that ran away with the currents of his vivid voice, just to keep myself on the right path of the story.
Let’s No One Get Hurt is heart-wrenching, but Pearl’s cynical, carefree attitude desperately tries to remind us that nothing is that bad, that it’s all just life. She doesn’t dwell, even when she is preyed upon by forces that no young girl should have to fight off. She has lived a hard life, but she does not pat herself on the back for her trouble. Pearl is one of my favorite modern female protagonists, and her story has captured my whole heart.
Thank you so much to FSG for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.