“An inventive and powerful coming of age story about the search for community and all the ways our ties to one another come undone. Jon Pineda has a poet’s eye for the details of this vivid, haunting landscape, and he brings it blazingly to life.” —Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation
With the cinematic and terrifying beauty of the American South humming behind each line, Jon Pineda’s Let’s No One Get Hurt is a coming-of-age story set equally between real-world issues of race and socioeconomics, and a magical, Huck Finn-esque universe of community and exploration.
Fifteen-year-old Pearl is squatting in an abandoned boathouse with her father, a disgraced college professor, and two other grown men, deep in the swamps of the American South. All four live on the fringe, scavenging what they can—catfish, lumber, scraps for their ailing dog. Despite the isolation, Pearl feels at home with her makeshift family: the three men care for Pearl and teach her what they know of the world.
Mason Boyd, aka “Main Boy,” is from a nearby affluent neighborhood where he and his raucous friends ride around in tricked-out golf carts, shoot their fathers’ shotguns, and aspire to make Internet pranking videos. While Pearl is out scavenging in the woods, she meets Main Boy, who eventually reveals that his father has purchased the property on which Pearl and the others are squatting. With all the power in Main Boy’s hands, a very unbalanced relationship forms between the two kids, culminating in a devastating scene of violence and humiliation.
Pineda (Apology) crafts an evocative novel about the cruelty of children and the costs of poverty in the contemporary South. Fifteen-year-old Pearl lives a marginal life in a dilapidated boathouse with her father and two other adult men. Pearl, socially isolated among the scavenging adults and feeling stunted, meets Mason Boyd, son of the wealthy family who recently bought up the land she is squatting on. He and his friends cruise around the countryside on their golf carts and scheme ways to become internet famous through juvenile prank videos. As Pearl and spoiled, contemptuous Mason embark on a secret sexual relationship, she yearns for a more normal life and swallows the scorn of her peers. Pineda fleshes out the main plot with flashbacks that explain the absence of Pearl's mother, her father's loss of his university job, and the earlier joys of Pearl's life. Poverty's demands and racial violence hover around the novel's events. In the horrifying climax, the disadvantaged are abused and treated as disposable by the privileged. This stark tale of slow-burning anguish will draw in readers with its lyrical prose and haunting images.