George & Lizzie
Booklist Reviews 2017 June #1
*Starred Review* Prominent librarian and dynamic book advocate Pearl has channeled her love for smart, witty, and compassionate fiction into her first novel, an astute, nimble, funny, and affecting love story. In classic rom-com style, Pearl's titular protagonists collide at an Ann Arbor, Michigan, bowling alley, where stoned and brokenhearted college student Lizzie manages to irredeemably sabotage dental-school freshman George's dream date and near-perfect game. The novel spins back to reveal this fated couple's diametrically different childhoods. While future dentist and renowned motivational speaker George grows up happy and confident in Tulsa, Lizzie is treated as a veritable lab rat by her famous behavioral-psychologist parents. Angry, defiant, and more trusting of books than people (her anchoring passion for reading allows Pearl to lace this scintillating tale with enticing book and writer call-outs), Lizzie embarks on what she calls the "Great Game" during her senior year in high school, a risky, ultimately traumatizing sexual marathon involving 23 members of the football team. Nonetheless, sunny, persevering George marries wounded, brooding, often infuriating Lizzie. Through knotty predicaments both sorrowful and hilarious, Pearl dramatizes a complicated and deeply illuminating union of opposites and conducts profound inquiries into the self, family, empathy, and love. The result is a charming, edgy, and many-faceted novel of penetrating humor and resonant insight. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2017 April #2
America's best-known librarian now offers her first novel. The slightly skewed husband and wife of the title approach marriage differently owing to their very different upbringings. George comes from a warm, boisterous family, while only-child Lizzie seemed less a loved daughter than the pet project of two psychologist parents. With an eight-city tour.Copyright 2017 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2017 July #1
Lizzie grew up with a mother and father who were academics and had little interest in parenting their daughter. Perhaps as a result of a lack of adult guidance and influence, she engaged in self-destructive behavior as a high school senior, which she later regretted. George grew up with attentive parents and was part of a loving family in which he enthusiastically participated. When George and Lizzie meet as students at the University of Michigan, George falls for Lizzie, and Lizzie—who can't stop pining for her ex-boyfriend—halfheartedly goes along with the relationship. In the pre-Internet era, in which the novel is set, Lizzie spends an inordinate amount of time searching for her lost love in phone books wherever she could find them. This behavior essentially keeps her from being fully present with George as their relationship grows increasingly serious, and it becomes more possible that he will discover her obsession.
PW Reviews 2017 July #4
Librarian and NPR commentator Pearl has made a living recommending great books; in this debut novel about love, regret, and forgiveness she tries her hand at fiction with mixed results. Her heroine is Lizzie, the only child of two famous but emotionally distant psychologists who use Lizzie to test their theories. Against the backdrop of this loveless childhood, Lizzie embarks on the "Great Game" of sleeping with every starter on the high school football team, but her attention-seeking efforts fail to generate anything more than negative voices in her head and a deep-seated self-hatred. When later her lust-filled relationship with college classmate Jack falls apart, Lizzie worries the Great Game is to blame. In steps George, a dental student with a "marshmallow" heart who wants nothing more than to make Lizzie happy. But even after Lizzie and George say "I do," Lizzie finds herself pining for Jack. Pearl doesn't give readers enough time to witness the deepening of George and Lizzie's relationship for it to be convincing, and at times the characters seem out of step with the realities of 1990s-era early adulthood. Still, the path George and Lizzie's relationship takes toward wholeness points to truths about the way people self-sabotage, the complexity of love, and the importance of being able to let go of the past.