North Carolina was a very different place ninety years ago, and no one–especially a young girl–could be certain what her future would be. Jessie Pearl, a farm girl of fourteen, was encouraged by her mother to think about life beyond the farm. Her mother promised Jessie that if Jessie studied enough to be admitted a teachers’ college, she would find the money to send Jessie.
But as The Ballad of Jessie Pearl opens, Jessie’s mother has died, and Jessie and her pregnant sister Carrie are keeping house for their father and Carrie’s husband. Carrie delivers a healthy boy, but shortly after Ky’s birth, Carrie is diagnosed with tuberculosis. Jessie leaves school to nurse her sister through this terrible illness, and after Carrie dies, Jessie assumes the responsibility for raising little Ky. College becomes a fading dream until a sister-in-law shares her books with Jessie and tutors her. But in the two years covered by this novel, Jessie and her family experience a number of challenges–challenges that could not be successfully met without the family and community pulling together. Jessie fears a life of scrubbing, cooking, and working the tobacco fields, but she loves these people and must weigh her dreams against her love for her family and her community.
This warm, engaging novel is based on a true story from the author’s family.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.