Running Press Kids
March 10, 2015
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All that Pearl knows can be encapsulated in one word: Seed. It is the isolated community that she was born into. It is the land that she sows and reaps. It is the center of her family and everything that means home. And it is all kept under the watchful eye of Papa S.Their work, their lives are to worship and honor Mother Nature. In Seed, Pearl and the others grow fruits and vegetables, notice the beauty around them and aren't tainted by the Outside.
At fifteen years old, Pearl is finally old enough to be chosen as Papa S’s companion. She feels excitement... and surprising trepidation that she cannot explain. The arrival of a new family into the Seed community — particularly the teenage son, Ellis — only complicates the life and lifestyle that Pearl has depended upon as safe and constant.
Ellis is compelling, charming, and worldly, and he seems to have a lot of answers to questions Pearl has never thought to ask. But as Pearl digs to the roots of the truth, only she can decide what she will allow to come to the surface.
Whether it's as idyllic as Pap S, their leader, wants them to believe, as Pearl does believe is soon a real question.
I like having Pearl as the narrator. She is someone who believes in the good of Seed, its rightness. What she's learned, what she's been told, is not, at least yet, being questioned. Her conviction, her love and, yes, her naivety really allow readers to see Seed. It's through her beliefs, especially in the illogical and even just plain incorrect, that we can see both the very good of Seed and the very bad. Even if Pearl can't.
The introduction of new characters to Seed was done nicely. It made sense that hey would become a part of Pearl's community (commune? cult?) even as iit makes so very little sense. Everything that Ellis brought with him, from growing up on the Outside to his reactions to things Pearl has always taken as truth to his relationships with those in Seed ponly layed an important role in Pearl and Seed's story.
I do think Ellis may have been just a bit too perfect, though. He's a teenager moved into this secluded community of only about a dozen people, cut off from the outside world. Even when faced with all that Seed is or wants to be, he was so calm. While I can see how the surroundings, what he was facing might demand that of him, he still felt too relaxed.
I did like the interactions between Ellis and Pearl, what he caused her to feel or think about. It was an interesting way to bring about change in her character and some of her perception. I think he was just the correct kind of in-between - not a life long Seed resident, not living on the Outside - for his presence to effect Pearl as it did.
There were some great things the author thought of for Seed and how its members operate, think, and perceive the world. It was some of the smaller things that caused the most impact. I also like that some of it, owing to Pearl's naivete and belief in her community, was left more ambiguous for a time. It seemed to, almost, make the reality worse. Readers know what something is even as Pearl has an idealized idea. You worry for her in all her innocence and trusting.
digital galley received, via NetGalley, from publisher for review