There’s an echo of Emma Donoghue’s Room in this story. Pearl speaks in a raw voice that can sound awkward one moment and precocious the next — a wholly believable consciousness for a child raised in such strange, constrained circumstances ... Full of sorrow and aching sweetness, Gun Love provides a glimpse of people who dwell every day knee deep in the toxic waste of our gun culture. They may be America’s forgotten children, but after reading this novel, you are not likely to forget them.
Gun Love both glamorizes and interrogates a mindset that assigns commodities the importance and the characteristics of living people ... The writing is unguarded, addicted. (It is full of plainly stated but unelaborated metaphors: 'She was the broom and I was dust.' 'My mother was a cup of sugar.') ... These are old questions: how can art make itself meaningful in the face of horror? What kind of monument can a story possibly place? I was surprised when Gun Love made its own humble attempt at an answer. An older character, Corazón, stands with Pearl in a cemetery ... 'Do you miss the people you never knew?' Compelling us to miss people that we never knew: that is one task that these two novels [Gun Love and Tom McAllister’s How to Be Safe]—and all of the rhetoric multiplied by the gun violence crisis—discharge with a savage grace.
Clement’s turn to fiction is oddly dreamy for such a topic, as if to suggest the self-delusion of the real-life actors involved ... Once the bond between mother and daughter comes apart, Pearl is swept into the gun trade. With the 'souls of animals and the souls of people' emanating from the guns all around her, she hears a song of praise: 'Pearl, Pearl, Pearl in congratulation.' Her complicity with the violence seems eerily unconscious, mirroring America’s unnatural inability to admit to the grave consequences of unchecked gun proliferation.