Gun Love by Jennifer Clement

Gun Love

Jennifer Clement

Gun Love is an emotional journey written in gorgeously poetic prose, for readers of classic coming-of-age tales like Bastard Out of Carolina.

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The searing, unforgettable story of a young girl's resilience, by the award-winning author of Prayers for the Stolen

Pearl's mother took her away from her family just weeks after she was born, and drove off to central Florida determined to begin a new life for herself and her daughter--in the parking lot next to a trailer park. Pearl grew up in the front seat of their '94 Mercury, while her mother lived in the back. Despite their hardships, mother and daughter both adjusted to life, making friends with the residents of the trailers and creating a deep connection to each other. All around them, Florida is populated with gun owners--those hunting alligators for sport, those who want to protect their families, and those who create a sense of danger. 

     Written in a gorgeous lyric all its own, Gun Love is the story of a tough but optimistic young woman growing up in contemporary America, in the midst of its harrowing love affair with firearms.

Advance Galley Reviews

What an interesting book. Despite this not being the typical book I would read, I am glad I had the opportunity to read this book. The characters and setting are so well developed and described, I could envision them perfectly and could practically smell the stench from the Floridian dump the main character lived next to. The only issue I personally had with this novel is that I felt Pearl had inadequate emotions in my opinion for her mother's death (but maybe this is where her age and immaturity were most clearly visible). She seemed almost ambivalent toward the murder and eventually being a killer herself (no matter how justified it was in her mind). While guns were not exactly glamorized, I don't think that there was not enough emphasize on just how dangerous they can be.

For me, Gun Love was a tough read. I never felt that the characters were well developed and I struggled with the overall plot development. Some points of the plot seemed contrived. I wanted to connect with Pearl but I just couldn't. Overall 3 starts for the book.

I adored just about everything in this book with the exception of the ending. It was quirky, sweet, quotable, endearing and more. I fell in love with the characters - especially the main character, Pearl, almost instantly. The only problem was that for me it ended too soon. I wanted to keep following Pearl to see how her life turns out as she grows up. The way that Clement created the characters really breathes them to life. I could envision each and every one in my mind with a very clear picture. So glad I picked this up.

I loved this book. It's beautifully written and the characters are so finely drawn. I wish there had been a little more resolution, but that's just a personal thing. In a way the ending was as strangely different as the rest of the novel. I've been recommending this all over the place because I'd love to be able to discuss it with people, it would make a terrific book club choice. The character of the mother will stay with me for a long long time, and the description of place was so finely drawn. Lovely and perfectly different and eminently readable

"Little girl, move at the speed of knots, water velocity, not land velocity." I received a copy of this ebook from in exchange for an honest review. This is an emotional read. The book opens with a somewhat telling story about twin alligators as we follow Pearl and her mother through their life living in their car. From Pearl's perspective we get an idea of how her mother has fallen apart and the world that they live in surrounded by guns and by drugs. It's hard to believe Pearl is so young when most of this book is so beautifully written and full of well-said insights. That being said the writing is also a bit vague at times for my tasted but overall tells a pretty coherent story. The book is broken into three parts to keep the story moving and while I found the end to be a bit unsatisfying it's a hard read to put down. There's a couple plot points I expected to circle back around to that were never addressed again. It's very much a character driven story centering on Pearl.

I haven't read a book quite like Gun Love. I appreciate the author writing about a sensitive subject. And even though the tone was dark, I decided to keep reading because I wanted the best for Pearl. I knew when Eli came in their life it was all downhill. I am living the single life and I recognize when the wrong man disrupts it. Books have become my comfort. I don't usually divulge spoilers, but I did not like the part when the police gave Pearl the bullets that killed her mom. Besides that, this story is needed in these violent times. I still don't approve of all of the guns. And this storyline cemented it for me. I hope this helps

I just never connected with this book. The author uses imagery well but it seems out of place with her characters. The poetic nature of her writing seems ill-suited for her protagonist’s youth and life. The book was difficult to enjoy.

I'm not sure how I feel about this novel. It was a quick read for me, and at no time did I want to put it down and stop reading. Yet I can't really say I enjoyed it. The subject matter was dark, which isn't an automatic turnoff for me, I have still appreciated other books despite the abominable behavior of some of their characters. For some reason, this just didn't resonate with me. I enjoy a character-driven story, but when reading about flawed characters, depth of understanding their character is what I find very satisfying. Here, many of the characters seemed like stereotypes. I thought the writing was compelling enough to keep me interested, but in the end I just didn't end up connecting with it enough to truly enjoy it. It strikes me as a Book where a good writer has a deadline, or for whatever reason finished the book without fully developing all of the characters and the story.

I really couldn't get into Gun Love. The premise sounded interesting and similar to other stories I've read and enjoyed but, for some reason, I just felt really meh about it. One of the reasons may have been that I hate when dialogue is written without the use of quotation marks! I'm sure this is just a personal preference thing, but it does make a story less for me. I also was bothered by what seemed like careless writing/editing (I know that this isn't the final product, so hopefully they'll fix what needs fixing), such as: "He also had two shotguns slung over each shoulder". This reads, to me, that he's got 2 guns on each shoulder, equalling 4 guns. If we're talking about 2 guns total (which it's made to seem that we are), then shouldn't it be "He also had a shotguns slung over each shoulder"? Again, I'm probably nit picking, but all these things added up to make Gun Love nothing special for me.

Not a fan of Gun Love by Jennifer Clement. I struggled throughout to find cohesiveness in the storyline. I was annoyed. One day I may pick it up again... and who knows I may like it then.

Pearl is a girl living a life that's very different from the rest of her neighbors. She and her mother are living in a car, and have been for Pearl's whole life. Parked in a trailer park near a dump, she has nothing resembling a conventional childhood. She has a friend and she has her mother, but once those two things disappear from her life, she's left with not knowing who she is or where she belongs. This novel puts an emphasis on pretty writing rather than an intriguing plot. You want to know what happens to Pearl, but you're mostly stuck in her head. And I'm certain that this book is trying to say something about guns, but there's no clear message that I got from it. They're bad? They're good? They're bad but necessary? It's an interesting read, but certainly one that will leave you with more questions than answers about why things happen the way they do in the book.

I am not sure how I feel about this book. I wasn't able to connect with the story at all. I wasn't able to feel like I was there with the characters. It was not an easy read for me.

Gun love was a tragically beautiful novel that followed a young mother and her daughter through the their young lives. Homelessness and gun violence were major themes throughout the novel, but they were told so poetically that it seemed beautiful. Child neglect, broken systems and poetic justice parallel the social constructs of today's society. Gun Love was a quick and beautiful read and should be on your list.

Jennifer Clements novel Gun Love covers subjects that are easy to read about such as child neglect, homelessness, and gun violence. Each of these subjects are discussed in a compelling manner through the novel. This novel is a page turner and I enjoyed it immensely. I was drawn in by the protagonist Pearls perspective through Clement's lyrical writing style that makes this story like an intimate friendship between the reader and protagonist. I highly recommend this novel. Thank you to First to Read for providing me a free copy of this wonderful novel.

This book, Gun Love, has equal emphasis on guns and love but I believe it is the love part that I will remember for some time to come. Beautiful love, weird love, crazy love. scary love and bad love - it was all there, and it was all memorable. The writing in the book is casual and deep. It reads like an intimate friend telling you her most deepest thoughts, really easily told and heard but settling down inside you somewhere it will stay for a very long time. The story itself is really just sad, but the writing - the writing is so well done that it feels palpable as you read it. This is writing that you stop and ponder as you read, where you re-read sentences just to experience them again.

When I finished reading this book I wasn't sure how to feel about it. I loved the writing style and the character development. It definitely drew me in and kept me reading. At the same time it left me feeling disturbed. It covers subjects that are not easy to read about. I think that good literature should make you think and confront difficult subjects. Those stories, the ones that I end up loving but also feeling disturbed by, are the ones that stay with me. They are the ones that I'll remember years from now. This was that type of book.

I am not really sure how I feel about this book. I guess for some reason I was unable to connect with the story. There is nothing wrong with the writing, and I can definitely say that I didn't hate it. But I found myself not really caring about what was going on the whole time. I would rate it about 3 stars, because I still found that it was very well written.

Growing up inevitably has its challenges, but for Pearl in Jennifer Clement's Gun Love, the challenges of living in a car in Florida and being surrounded by those with an affinity for guns transports her experiences beyond the realm of the typical challenges faced while growing up.  Pearl has lived her entire life in a car with her young mother, stationary in the parking lot of a Florida trailer park. While living in a car may not be ideal, it's home for Pearl and her mother; Pearl has always felt loved by her mother and they have a unique, deep connection with one another. Their relationship drastically changes, however, when a man who catches her mother's attention enters the trailer park's community, bringing guns into a more prominent position in their lives, which manages to fundamentally alter Pearl's existence and understanding of the world.   Addressing an unfortunately timely topic of guns in America, this novel demonstrates their pervasiveness and their impact on the lives of those around them while also exploring the changing relationship between a mother and daughter in their homeless state. The story was well-written, but I found that the lyrical style took a while to become accustomed to. A quick read, the narrative kept my attention as the story moved forward, but I thought that the portion of the narrative before Eli's appearance was more captivating than what took place after his entrance; the focus on the experiences the rather naive Pearl had living in her mother's car and the relationship she had with her mother were far more fascinating than the gunrunning that imploded Pearl's world.  Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Gun Love is a beautifully written poetic story about a young girl who grew up in a Mercury, meaning that her bedroom was the front seat and mom had the rear seat and the trunk functioned as the pantry. Definitely had those Mercury Blues. It was not the best arrangement but when the teenage mom and her newborn nested there in the Mercury the few months turned into fourteen years. It's told through Pearl's point of view, which is not just a young girl's voice - a girl who never left her trailer park for fourteen years, but has so many wonderful candy-coated phrases spit out. Not only was Pearl's mom a bit offbeat and maybe not quite right upstairs but the folks who planted themselves in the Park were just as offbeat and odd. From gun-collecting preachers to Barbie doll collecting women, to the Mexican woman who someday hopes to visit Selena's grave, it was a world of its own, set in Florida, but it's own state of mind. This book is incredibly successful at what it tries to do. Great work! Thanks to Penguin Publishing for providing a copy for review.

This book is definitely a page turner. I love Clement’s lyrical writing style. This is the type of book that I wish I could write or at the very least be good friends with the author so I could discuss the book with her. I liked Pearl and was rooting for her. I hated for the book to end, I wanted to read more about Pearl’s adventures. I can’t wait to read more of Clement’s books.

I was kindly provided free access to an advance reading copy of this book thanks to First to Read. The premise of the novel holds a lot of promise, and I enjoyed the lyrical writing style the author used to tell this story through the eyes of the 14 year old narrator, Pearl France. I found the writing to be beautiful and I grew fond of Pearl. The novel also hits on a lot of current issues, such as gun violence, homelessness, and child neglect, each of which is handled very well and in a compelling fashion. However, I found the ending quite abrupt and a lot of issues I wanted to see addressed went unresolved. While I really enjoyed reading the book, the ending was unfulfilling and left me disappointed, though I guess that's the point and what makes this book hit home even harder. Overall, the book is a quick read and the story will linger in my mind for quite some time to come.

This book was ok. Kept my interest. There were a few things that I didn't like, but all in all it was a decent read. I read it quicker than I thought as well.

While I enjoyed the format of this book being written in prose, I just could not feel empathy for the main character, Pearl. The writing itself is very good, but the tone made me actually not like Pearl vs. cheering for her. While her life has been full of tragedy, her lack of reaction to everything and just going along with it all does not inspire any sort of empathy for her situation.

I was provided access to a galley of this book thanks to First to Read. I loved the novel’s narrator and central character, 14 year old Pearl France. The writing is lyrical, often amusing and full of social commentary. The book grabbed me with its fabulous opening sentences... “My mother was a cup of sugar. You could borrow her anytime.” I don’t want to include spoilers in my review so I’ll just mention some of the important and timely themes the book revolves around. The issue of homelessness and a child’s survival strategies to deal with it are a central theme, as are the challenges of teen pregnancy and single parenting. The mutant multi-limbed skink and multi-headed alligator discusses early in the book illustrate the damage our refuse is doing to the environment. The shattered lives of many of this countries returning vets are explored. A parent’s fear of losing custody to child protective services, the chaotic nature of this country’s foster care system and the long-term negative impact of a child being shuffled around within it are also dealt with in this novel. And finally, there is a window into the trailer park scene and gun culture of Florida in the novel. The book’s subject matter, particularly around gun culture and gun violence, is quite timely given the country’s increasingly heated debate over gun control measures. The book is a quick read. I found the final chapters to be somewhat abrupt given the pacing of the previous sections of the book. Perhaps that’s because I had become so fond of Pearl France and wanted to know how she’d experience the next phase of her life. I highly recommend the book, particularly if you enjoy experiencing life (sometimes at its most difficult) through the eyes of an engaging 14 year old. Thank you to First to Read for giving me the opportunity to read this wonderful book before it hits the shelves!

What narration! Told by Pearl, a young girl in a nondescript area of Florida, this novel is character driven writing at its finest. It presents a rather terrifying story that unfolds through naive young eyes, and because of the lack of understanding on the part of Pearl, very little comes clear until near the end. This means the beginning moves slowly, but the characters are so deep and well-rounded that it's beautiful to read. This book will leave you with an aching heart in the best way - total despair over the state of our country and the way we treat gun violence. Just more reasons to March For Our Lives (or those of the kids) on March 24!

What a fresh voice! Characters are well written. Story line was compelling. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Will be reading more from Ms Clement.

I wouldn’t call this a YA novel but it is a coming of age story. The story revolves around Pearl and her life before and after a tragic event. I did find the book interesting and well written. If it hadn’t been offered as a first to read option, I probably wouldn’t have tried it. It’s between a pick and a so-so. Trigger warning: gun violence

I liked this book, a quick, easy read that deals with a very serious subject .....dealing with homelessness & gun running. I'd read that the author has an odd way of writing, but I didn't notice anything too strange?! It was a compelling read, & didn't end 'all peaches & cream'! I thought the book address the subject it dealt with...pretty didn't gloss over the danger/evil. I thought the cover art was appropriate. I'll look for other works by the author. I received this e-ARC from Penguin's First-To-Read giveaway program in return for my own unbiased, fair & honest review.

I didn’t like this book, it just wasn’t for me. I received an advanced copy of this book in electronic format from in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted to

I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book, however I am glad that I chose it through first to read. Pearl and her mother Margot live in a car and this book covers what this was like and how this affected Pearl. The book covers her relationships with other people who live in the trailer park. She is eventually moved into foster care after her mother's murder until she is saved by someone from the trailer park. There was a lot going on in this novel and people were definitely not who they seem to be. This book was lyrical and enjoyable.

This amazing, tragic, beautiful book completely blew me away. The gawdy pink and yellow cover and a title that can only imply a tale that’s going to leave you with something unforgettable, immediately made me want to read this, even though I will unashamedly say I detest firearms...and yes, there are a lot of guns in this book. This poetically-written novel drew me in right away, as it’s really a tale about a young girl called Pearl who has spent her short life of 14 years living with her mom in a car parked at a trailer park, in Central Florida. The novel is written in three parts, and told from Pearl’s perspective, as if she were telling someone her story, her absolutely heart-wrenching story; it is told with the naivety of someone who is even younger because she has seen so little, yet this is also a little girl who has had to come to terms with not knowing who her father is, has her ‘wardrobe’ in the trunk of the car, and has smoked cigarettes since she was 10. Huge issues come up in this pretty short book, and my heart broke over and over again, at the same time my head was screaming on about the gun debate (there’s no coincidence that this is set in Florida, but it comes at a time where recent incidents make this novel all the more poignant, regardless of the specific story contained within). It’s hard not to connect thoughts and feelings with current events when reading this. It’s also very hard to read this without a lump in your throat. I’ve not read any of author Jennifer Clement’s work before but this is spectacular. I can’t give too much away regarding the full storyline, but the way Jennifer weaves words together is just magic, and I couldn’t take my eyes away from the page. This is one of the best things I’ve read so far this year and I won’t forget ‘Gun Love’ any time soon, especially given the sad tale within, and the tragedies brought on by firearms in the real world. Absolutely masterful and poignant.


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