Rating: 5 stars
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The beauty of this story will be impossible to capture in a review, so trust me when I say this story was one of the most beautiful, emotional reading experiences I’ve ever had. The story is simple, but is romanticism at its best. Yes, this is a story about two boys in love, but it’s so much more than that. The beautiful imagery, the Aboriginal history and traditions, and the element of mysticism that surround this novel, raise it to another level. I was swept up in it and never wanted it to end.
Luke Lawson and Jarrah Yindi are two best friends growing up in paradise — spending their days in the tropical haven found on the northern beaches of Australia. They fish and swim and dive for pearls and find adventure while running from a crocodile named Old Salty who threatens their lives on more than one occasion. It’s the summer before Jarrah is to leave for school that Luke finally works up the courage to tell him he loves him, even though they know life will take them different directions in just a few short months.
They each pursue their varied goals — Luke to become a pilot who will eventually aid doctors on rescue missions, Jarrah to medical school in Sydney. Jarrah continues to hold in his pocket a pearl that was given to him by Luke, which has always represented their commitment to one another. The thing is, they’re both still kids, and they don’t know what life has to offer beyond the paradise they’ve built with one another. Jarrah must decide if his “pearl” is to follow his desire to become a doctor, even if it means it will take him far away from Luke. Luke has to let Jarrah discover his happiness while pursuing his own goals and dreams.
Neither boy is sure life will keep them together, though their bond of love remains strong. Then tragedy strikes, and Jarrah must rely on powers beyond himself to save the man he loves. This is only the beginning of the adventures that await these two boys.
This is probably one of the most romantic books I’ve ever read, and not in the way one would think of as typically romantic. There’s a tremendous amount of love, not just between Luke and Jarrah, but from Jarrah’s parents and a few wonderful, supportive characters. But everything about this book is romantic, from the gorgeous descriptions of the water, to the Aboriginal legends that are tied to the land. It’s written in a type of poetic prose; the words weave a tale as rich and beautiful as the love between the two men at the center of it all.
Beyond the mere beauty of it is action and adventure. The allure of the terrain holds an underlying element of danger, whether it be from the jaws of a crocodile or the hostile elements of nature. It’s not easy to live in paradise, but as Knight so deftly demonstrates, it’s so worth it. This, in fact, is the lesson that Jarrah has to learn for himself. This really is a story about choices. Jarrah thinks he knows what he wants and wonders if the traditional methods of pursuing his goals are what he needs. When he realizes all that he needs already surrounds him, I became a bit of a blubbering mess. This wouldn’t be the first time that Knight’s story brought me to tears.
The Pearl is as much about the land as anything else, as well as the connection the Aborigines had with this land. Billy Shakespear, an Aborigine with an intense spiritual connection to the land and the elements, is a fantastic character. Jarrah’s half-Aboriginal background makes him a perfect candidate for Shakespear to mentor. Their interaction with one another was both humorous and moving.
I’m just going to stop here, even though I’m sure I haven’t done this book justice. It is an experience. A gorgeous, inspirational, moving experience, and I highly recommend that you give it a read.
Note: This book has been republished for Wilde City Press