4 out of 4 stars
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Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest by Ruth Finnegan is a work of poetry and prose that is 286 pages long. It is listed under Religion and Spirituality. This is clearly a book that is meant to be studied. It is very confusing at parts, but is not a result of bad writing, because the confusion is meant to display the nature of the characters and Kate’s emotional struggle. Also, the confusion stems from the otherworldly story that seems to blend dream worlds with reality. The line between real life and dream worlds becomes less clear as the book goes on. Many aspects of the book seem to be open to readers' interpretations.
Kate rejects the love of her soul mate as a young girl. She continues with her life, going to a convent to get her education. She gets engaged, has a career, and travels to Africa. In Africa, God’s plan is revealed to her, and she remembers her long lost love. She feels guilt for rejecting him, and realizes her mistake. She searches for him, but he rejects her at the gates of Heaven. She looks for him again and watches in sorrow as he slowly leaves her. The guilt of rejecting her true love follows her as she tries to make it right. God decides to be merciful and gives her another way to meet her love again and fulfill her destiny. Her journey takes her to the Garden of Eden, heaven, and hell. In the end, it is all about self-discovery and eternal love.
This is not an easy, quick read. There are times that I had to pause and reread paragraphs. There are many parts of the book that read similarly to a stream of consciousness. What I love most about this approach is how it conveys Kate’s and other character’s thoughts and emotions. A lot is left out, so the reader is required to fill in the spaces and understand the transitions. There is no warning that the perspectives have changed, so you have to put that together on your own. Time also flip-flops back and forth with little warning. Instead of a structured narrative that explains, the reader is able to see through the characters’ ideas, remembering memories the way that we actually remember moments from our lives in flashes. It is like being in their minds. There are also pieces of more traditional style poetry throughout the work.
The author conveys emotions well, and I could really relate to Kate. What I liked most about Black Inked Pearl is how heavily some of the author’s statements hit me emotionally. Each event or test in the text can be interpreted as a real life event. For example, I believe that the last test in which Kate has to read and understand all knowledge in God’s library may represent the monotony of life after a true love has passed away. It feels as though you must search through the largest library in existence before you are finally granted the chance to see them again in the afterlife. Because Kate originally rejected the man’s love, she has to complete multiple tests to prove that her love is enough. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Kate must cut off her ring finger to wake her love. The author makes an analogy-she cuts off her finger as one would cut down a tree. The poem after this alludes to Christ’s love, because he died on a tree.
Much of the writing is very profound, but I also love the humor mixed in. For instance God is not depicted in a traditional way. God’s mercy is what gives her the ability to see her true love again, but he is also a source of humor multiple times in the text.
“For the learning of those black-robed ones’ (he meant the nuns - God isn’t always up with the latest lingo you know; far less the fashion trade)…”
“But not of my will, child,’ he added hastily, in case she thought he was all-forgiving or merciful or something…”
Apparently, God is also a cat person. This was a nice addition considering the heaviness of the rest of the text. On the other hand, God is also described as a hard working, always busy gardener.
The end of the book includes a very helpful index that helps the reader understand references to other poems and literature. This gives the reader a little more context and expands upon the meaning of the text. There are references to Odysseus, Achilles, Aeneas, and Shakespeare.
I believe that this book is a work of art. The story is very intricately woven, and the references to other works add to the book, so I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. There are a couple of words that are misspelled, but I believe that that was done on purpose. The book also contains made up words. This was an interesting read that I would consider reading again to study and delve into the meaning further.
Black inked pearl
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