My eighth graders are currently reading The Pearl by John Steinbeck. It's a fable about injustice which unfortunately doesn't turn out well in the end. Fortunately, life doesn't always imitate art. Here's my own pearl story, from my 1995 album I Own This Town, with a happier ending (so far so good!).
An oyster cracks its shell, a grain of sand slips in
That grain of sand gets lodged against the oyster's tender flesh
And it feels a pain with every movement, every breath