P is for Pearl is the first young adult novel for Eliza Henry Jones, who has had two adult novels published, both of which I enjoyed. This one is set in Tasmania, and the descriptions of the cold, grey and wet weather match the brooding mood of the book.
It is told in the first person by seventeen-going on eighteen -year-old Gwen, together with diary entries from her as Gwendolyn P. Pearson. Living in a small town, all her history is known by everyone, including the deaths of her younger brother and mother. Her father has re-married and she lives with them, her step-brother and her little half-sister. Close friends Loretta and Gordon support her, and they are all intrigued when Ben and Amber move into the property next to Gwen and start at the local school with them.
Their history is unknown, and they do not know what has gone on for Gwen. She starts spending time with Ben and they slowly share some of their respective pasts. Then they uncover information that Gwen didn’t even know, that changed everything she understood about her family.
The difficulties for young people living in a small town are captured well. Issues of mental health, addiction, loss, having to grow up too fast, and modern families are all dealt with compassion, allowing time for thought and reflection. It reinforces the importance of being kind and gentle, which is a good for message for young adults and adults alike. Eliza Henry Jones writes as well for young adults as she does for adults, and this book can be appreciated by teenagers and up.