To call Pearlie a ghost story would be to oversimplify its intentions, because even though a ghost is involved, the real story is about the circumstances that created her - and here's where Pearlie really shines. How does a relationship spanning generations result in tragedy and a haunting? And what will keep the deadly scenarios from happening again?
Pearlie takes the ghost story format and elevates it into a saga of intergenerational relationships, examining how patterns are formed, repeat, and sometimes proceed towards inevitable conclusions unless something alters them.
Chapters take their time to build suspense and craft the set of circumstances surrounding Pearl's creation and ultimate demise, documenting family sufferings, blessings, and why one spirit is compelled to hang around after death.
Struggles to keep families together against all odds, fundamental belief systems and messy complications, and issues of accountability and angst drive a story that is as much about family interactions and patterns as it is about a wandering old soul's effects on these patterns.
All this is why readers looking for the typical ghost/haunting saga from Pearlie could be disappointed: there's far more depth here than in a singular ghost story, and a satisfying complexity revolves around family history which focuses on the bigger picture, where Pearl's presence is just one facet of what is passed between generations.
Readers who consider a ghost the icing on a cake of intergenerational angst and skeletons in the closet will find Pearlie a wonderfully evocative read, especially recommended for audiences who delight in stories of family history, mystery, and ultimately, forgiveness.