Title: The Pearl Thief
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publication date: May 2, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, Fiction, Mystery
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Before Verity . . . there was Julie.
When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.
Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scots Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.
Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.
In the prequel to Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this exhilarating coming-of-age story returns to a beloved character just before she learned to fly.
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The Pearl Thief is the first Elizabeth Wein book I have read and it will not be my last. I really enjoyed how Wein’s storytelling realistically situates you in the main character’s mind, which is filled with so much passion, snark, love, innocence, and freedom. The plot of The Pearl Thief not only provides a tone of mystery and stealth, but I was also in awe of the limits that Wein pushed against in regards to the main character’s coming-of-age story.
As the main character in The Pearl Thief, Julie is one of my new favorite YA heroines. Wein’s writing immediately swifts you into the historical ambiance of an early 20th-century Scotland setting, told through Julie’s perspective, a teenage girl exploring her adolescence through a lens of fear, courage, curiosity, and change. Julie is a full on whirlwind; in the very beginning of the book, she makes a threat that if anyone ever arranges for her to be married, she would run away. HA, right then and there, I knew Julie was going to win my heart in this story. I loved how feisty, funny, and daring she is throughout the novel. If I lived in the late 1930s, I definitely would have tried to befriend her. In the end, I appreciated Julie as a character because she has so much strength, spunk, and will to educate herself and defy social norms.
Because of Julie’s liveliness and strict determination, this story is engaging and fast-paced. The Pearl Thief has a mysterious tone with a full investigation of a missing person and thefts. In addition to the stealthy tone, it was very refreshing to read a young adult character who is exploring her sexual fluidity, while also trying to understand the ills of the world. Julie is situated in a time where women were pushing the boundaries of the patriarchy, and she was also recognizing the terrible discriminatory labels, stereotypes, and assumptions that were unfairly placed on people due to their social status, religion, gender, race, and way of living. If you love reading historical novels with witty and quirky characters with a dash of sleuthing, The Pearl Thief is for you.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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I was born in New York City in 1964, and moved to England when I was 3. I started school there. We lived practically in the shadow of Alderley Edge, the setting for several of Alan Garner’s books and for my own first book The Winter Prince; that landscape, and Garner’s books, have been a lifelong influence on me.
My father, who worked for the New York City Board of Education for most of his life, was sent to England to do teacher training at what is now Manchester Metropolitan University. He helped organize the Headstart program there. When I was six he was sent to the University of the West Indies in Jamaica for three years to do the same thing in Kingston. I loved Jamaica and became fluent in Jamaican patois (I can’t really speak it any more, but I can still understand it); but in 1973 my parents separated, and we ended up back in the USA living with my mother in Harrisburg, PA, where her parents were. When she died in a car accident in 1978, her wonderful parents took us in and raised us.
I went to Yale University, spent a work-study year back in England, and then spent seven years getting a PhD in Folklore at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. While I was there I learned to ring church bells in the English style known as “change ringing”, and in 1991 I met my future husband there at a bell ringers’ dinner-dance. He is English, and in 1995 I moved to England with him, and then to Scotland in 2000.
We share another unusual interest–flying in small planes. My husband got his private pilot’s license in 1993 and I got mine ten years later. Together we have flown in the States from Kalamazoo to New Hampshire; in Kenya we’ve flown from Nairobi to Malindi, on the coast, and also all over southern England. Alone, most of my flying has been in eastern Scotland.
We have two children.
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NOTE: Thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Rock Star Book Tour for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.