From School Library Journal
Grade 9 and Up: Pearl Jaeger is teetering on the edge of control. Will she burn out like a dying star, or will she overcome her demons and leave the past behind? Pearl is the daughter of a washed-up, drug-addicted rock star, living in a small New York City apartment with her mother and her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Pearl and her mother are forced to live in a homeless shelter after fleeing the boyfriend and their home. Just when it seems Pearl’s life can’t get any worse, her mother accidentally burns down the homeless shelter they are staying in, while trying to get high. It is blatantly apparent that Pearl’s mother needs to be admitted to rehab, leaving the teen in the care of her rich politician uncle. Not wanting anyone to know about Pearl or her mother, he sends his niece to an exclusive boarding school. Once at school, she quickly falls into the scene she was trying to leave behind. She becomes entangled with classmates who value drinking and drugs more than their studies. Pearl must fight to stop herself from following her mother down the path of addiction and self-destruction. This is an accurate depiction of addiction, peer pressure, and temptation from a teen’s perspective. Due to some of the content (drug abuse, sex, death, and spousal abuse), this book would be better suited for older teens. Verdict: A read for mature teens looking for realistic fiction dealing with the struggles of addiction, love, and identity. —Annalise Ammer, Henrietta Public Library, NY
From Kirkus Reviews
The daughter of a drug-addicted rock star tries to change her life when her uncle sends her to an exclusive prep school. Pearl's mom briefly was the Grammy-nominated leader of a band before disintegrating into hopeless drug addiction. Named after the Janis Joplin album, Pearl simply tries to survive with her mother until her mom nearly kills her by accidentally burning down their homeless shelter. Pearl's rich uncle reluctantly steps in to pay her tuition to the prep school his daughters attended. There, she becomes involved in her dorm's social life, which includes sneaking out to smoke and drink. She encounters a mix of hostile and supportive classmates and falls for Grant, a romance that's threatened when Pearl spends the summer in a design institute program with girls who get her seriously involved with drugs. She begins to discover herself in an advanced art class run by an emotionally intense teacher. Will she manage to save herself from her mother's fate or succumb to it herself? Pearl's love/hate relationship with her mother threatens to dominate her life unless she can find herself and become free from her past. Hall writes with confidence as she delves ever deeper into her character's portrayal, just as Pearl tries to paint her own portrait. Pearl's granular, present-tense narration makes for an introspective, even claustrophobic read. A character-driven book for readers who like their fare on the intense side.