Thread for Pearls: A Story of Resilient Hope
Elfenworks Productions (2018)
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (12/18)
“Thread for Pearls: A Story of Resilient Hope” is a novel set in the 1960s and 70s with all the history and culture that made that period rich and distinctive. Author Lauren Speeth’s main character, Fiona, is flung into this turbulent era from a negligent accident that strips her from her birth mother and older half-sister. At a young age, she is placed with her peace-loving father who immediately remarries granting Friona with a new step mum and, eventually, more half-sisters. Although she is surrounded by an extensive family structure, Fiona still feels that something is missing and longs to be reacquainted with her estranged mother.
When her parents search for their ideal existence, moving the family first to India and then to a communal farm in Pennsylvania, Fiona is forced over and over again to create a home base for herself. Eventually, the stress of living free takes a toll on the family unit. Fiona’s step mum and father split. Alone again, Fiona and her father rely on the support of extended family and friends to survive. With little left to ground her, Fiona tries to establish her own rules and create a direction for herself. Struggling, she works to pull out of the reckless condition that the adults in her life have thrust upon her. Eventually, her birth mother invites her back to the nest a world away in California. Will Fiona finally feel as if she is home?
Although there is a lot of detail in this book’s 450 pages, I treasured each word. Speeth formulates exquisite sentences with such simplistic flair that I don’t even miss the fact that the book doesn’t have a typical plot structure with escalading action. There are several instances where Fiona is definitely in over her head and the pace of the story intensifies. Otherwise, we meander through the days with Fiona looking for meaning and trying to make sense of the craziness of the times. Even the commonplace experiences Speeth’s main character faces are valuable as they are filled with moments of spirituality that call upon us to make judgment for social conscience.
Plenty of homage is paid to the 1960s and 70s in this novel. There are pages of references to the sign of the times with descriptions of drive-in movies, The Beatles, protests, sit-ins, excerpts of the first moon landing and Watergate. Having grown up in this period, it definitely sparks my memory and provides an interesting perspective for comparing what today’s youth are encountering.
In “Thread for Pearls,” Lauren Speeth paints her characters with psychedelic colors that reflect a mind-blowing age of experimentation, free love and independent thinking. Young Fiona is growing up in this world with a mother who is a preoccupied writer, a father who is dedicated to his daughter but living life as a raging pacifist, and a caretaker step mum who manages “The Cosmic Starshine,” a shop with all the trappings of hippiedom. With such freethinking parents, Fiona has to become more independent and mature than most children her age. Examples of her courage and resilience abound in Speeth’s novel and make for a fascinating read.