Title: Let’s No One Get Hurt
Author: Jon Pineda
Genre: Literary Fiction
Number of Pages: 256
-Warning: This review contains mild spoilers-
Wow, this book is atmospheric as fuck. You can practically feel the heat and humidity dripping off your body in this strange, somewhat anachronistic Southern setting. Pearl is a fifteen-year-old girl in has an impoverished lifestyle on a houseboat with her dad and his two male friends. Her dad is a former professor who seems to have picked up sort of a ‘sovereign citizen’ viewpoint and he and his friends provide an odd but loving family for Pearl.
When Pearl meets Mason Boyd, who’s dad owns the property her dad and his friends are squatting on, she’s not impressed by his big money and privileged lifestyle. Mason and his friends like to make prank videos for Youtube, and they consider Pearl to be a strange and somewhat feral creature who’s good for a laugh. Mason begins to manipulate Pearl and she’s mistreated by him and his friends, unbeknownst to her caretakers.
I can totally picture this being an indie movie. The writing is so lovely, evocative, and full of rich visual language. Pearl is such a badass and makes an unforgettably strange and compelling protagonist. The characters are weird yet they all seem like someone you could meet in real life. They feel authentic, not awkwardly eccentric for the sake of being eccentric. There can be a thin line between these two things in Southern gothic but I think the author nailed it.
The only thing I wasn’t crazy about in this book was the ending. I don’t want to spoil too much of what happens, but I wish Mason Boyd and his friends had gotten some comeuppance. I understand why the author end it the way he did but those guys were predators and everybody just pretending like nothing happened was very unsatisfying. I thought of this as kind of an anti-coming-of-age story; Pearl goes into the big bad world and outside her comfort zone and finds it sorely lacking. Aside from the disappointing conclusion, this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and I’d actually love to see a sequel.