Friday, January 27, 2006
The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl - Virginia Hamilton (January/06)
I had to read this novel for the fantasy class that I am taking in university. It is the most interesting book because at first, I could not handle it. It is such a horrible reason why, but I thought it was because the people spoke what we today would call "slang" English. So, reading like this it took me a while to get away from the western views on English and start reading the book like it was meant to be read. It took me about a 100 pages to get into it, but once I did I finished the rest at a very good chunk.
The book is about a little god child by the name of Pretty Pearl. She had been living on a mountaintop in Africa but with her abilities was able to see the going ons of the black people that surrounded the mountain. One day when she has nothing better to do she asks her brother, the best God, John de Conquer for something to do and so begins her adventures. She comes down the mountain with her brother and by way of a slave ship she comes to America to witness the suffering of the black people. She felt for these people, and so when her brother believed her ready he gave her a magical necklace which figured into many aspects of the story, some "spirits" that reside in the necklace until she needs their help (one of which becomes one of the main characters in the novel), a set of rules to follow, and a warning to be careful.
It is with her brothers guidance, even if Pearl does not listen to her brother all the time, that she sets out to help the people that she relates to so well. On her journey we meet a whole string of new characters, some that are god-like creatures like her and others that are just regular freed slaves trying to make a place for themselves in the world. She has many adventures a long the way and there are many unexpected twists to her story, but in the end we see a culture that was forced to hide in order to be free lose their land all over again with the guidance of the spirit world surrounding them. Hamilton makes the book seem like even in their darkest hour their is a god near to help them. They are not perfect gods, though, Pearl is quite attracted to her looks and many times in the story she is called Pretty not Pearl. And she has many things to come that show that gods can be like humans too.
With this novel Hamilton brings the spiritual world to the suffering blacks in a time where they found it hard to leave on their own and do things for themselves. Seeing the story through a childs eye means that you see the innocence of a people, but just when that starts to get tiring other narrators take the stage. A very redeemable novel about the love and friendship that comes out of a community that is joined together by struggle and need.
I give this book a 3/5.