A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Pearl Thief, prequel to Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, is an origin-story/coming-of-age tale narrated by the future "Queenie," Scottish aristocrat Julia Beaufort-Stuart. Set in 1938, the summer Julia turns 16, it's less dark than the harrowing Code Name Verity, but there's plenty of edgy behavior and risk-taking, from sleuthing to dangerous flirtation with adult men and romance with another girl. The story's packed with historic detail, literary references, issues of social injustice (especially violence and discrimination against Travelers), gorgeous descriptions of Scotland, and unforgettable characters learning a lot about the world and themselves. Violence includes a dismembered corpse, a teen bashed over the head by an unknown assailant, and a teen who fights off unwanted advances by an adult character before her friend comes to the rescue with a shotgun and shoots assailant in the (kilted) butt.
What's the story?
As THE PEARL THIEF opens, 15-year-old Lady Julia Beaufort-Stuart arrives at her late grandfather's estate in Scotland a few days earlier than expected -- which is why, when she's bashed over the head by an unknown assailant and lands in the hospital, no one knows who she is for days. It's the first of many enlightening experiences as she tries to find out what happened, forms close bonds with a local family of Travelers, and works to solve an apparent murder mystery when a dismembered corpse turns up in the river. Also, what became of her late grandfather's pearl collection?
Is it any good?
The future "Queenie" spends an eventful, character-building, adventurous, and romantic summer as she turns 16 on the family estate in this exciting prequel set in 1938. With gorgeous descriptions of Scotland, plentiful literary references, historical detail, local customs, social change, and fighting injustice, as well as lots of interior monologue, kissing, and colorful characters, The Pearl Thief may be a bit overstuffed with good things that don't quite come together. But it's a great read, with telling moments showing the early development of the appealing hero of Code Name Verity,
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about family traditions in The Pearl Thief that influence the characters' choices and options. What examples of this do you see in real life?
What do you know about the culture and history of Scotland and the various groups of people who live there? Does reading The Pearl Thief make you want to delve deeper into that part of the world?
In The Pearl Thief and in real life, the Travelers suffer discrimination, injustice, and violence. What do you know about the Travelers in today's world? How does their experience compare with that of other groups outside mainstream culture or other longtime victims of prejudice?
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