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Pure is about fourteen - the age when you know everything, except when you don't know anything. It's about first love and the end of innocence, and realizing your family perhaps isn't as happy or your parents as together as you thought. It's about the cool friend for whom everything seems effortless, and the impossibly embarrassing friend you're nice to when your cool friends can't see. It's about that twenty-seven-year-old man who flirts with you when he sells your dad your overpriced birthday stereo - except he...
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Pure is about fourteen - the age when you know everything, except when you don't know anything. It's about first love and the end of innocence, and realizing your family perhaps isn't as happy or your parents as together as you thought. It's about the cool friend for whom everything seems effortless, and the impossibly embarrassing friend you're nice to when your cool friends can't see. It's about that twenty-seven-year-old man who flirts with you when he sells your dad your overpriced birthday stereo - except he actually calls. And it's about what happens after.
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Editorial Reviews

Terri Griffith
Pure isn't quite a girl's coming-of-age story; that would make it nicer than it really is. Instead, it is about one girl's struggle to define her sexuality outside the limits set by family and friends. What makes this novel different is how expertly Ray captures being embarrassed by her family, the longing to be part of the popular crowd, and what it's like to be barely fifteen.
BUST Magazine
At 14, the narrator of this contemporary and unflinchingly realistic bildingsroman has already given up wonder for experience. The crowd with whom she'd like to be associated at school is judgmental and craven, rather than opinionated and sensual. Her former best friend acts the role of Greek chorus in the unfolding tragedy of innocence lost. Her parents bicker in the background while lying boldly when directing their remarks to the narrator and the reader. Nameless and self-abusive, the narrator reaches for identity by experimenting with sex with an insensitive peer and then upping the ante for herself by falling in love with an electronics salesman who is past 30. Ray wrote this story while close to her narrator's ground zero, leaving school to work on it at 16 and seeing it to publication at home in Great Britain two years later. Her control over dialogue, character development and plot building is admirable. What the characters have to say reveals their motivations without explaining them away, and the narrator, her family members and her pedophilic paramour all become startlingly real and fully developed through revelations of their flaws and strengths. There are unexpected twists in the tale that increase its credibility rather than turning it into wish fulfillment. The details and language here are crass and specific, in perfect keeping with the narrator and her story. She and her British schoolgirl chums speak in expletive-littered jibes. Her boyfriends' carnal appetites are expressed in direct action described almost clinically. The cutting she uses to punish herself and the drinking her father uses to soften his own disappointments are explicit without being dramatized. While anovel of youth by a youthful artist, Pure requires a reader with some maturity and distance to be successful. The narrator's peers will be able to identify with one or another of the cast here but without being able to apprehend the drama in its full scope and depth. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students, and adults. 1998, Grove Press, 404p, 21cm, 00-028012, $13.00. Ages 17 to adult. Reviewer: Francisca Goldsmith; Teen Svcs., Berkeley P.L., Berkeley, CA January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
Library Journal
This raw debut by precocious British 20-year-old Ray deftly chronicles a girl's painful transition to young adulthood. With the brutally frank opening line, "I was about thirteen when I started letting the boys feel me up," it's clear that the narrator lacks both judgment and self-esteem, if not sexual experience. Ray does such an insightful job of showing the descent from embarrassed schoolgirl to confused lover of a much older man that you wonder whether this story is autobiographical--and, if so, how the author lived to tell it with such strength. Particularly poignant are scenes involving a jealous childhood friend, those with the narrator's bitter father, and one about her first experience snorting speed, which leads to terrible self-mutilation with a razor blade. Obscenity-laden and distressing, Pure is not for the easily offended or for those who would rather forget their entire adolescence. It is, however, powerful. Recommended for all libraries.--Christine Perkins, Medford Teen Lib., Jackson Cty. Lib. Syst., OR Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
A British debut novel, penned by a (then) 16-year-old author, offers the intense immediacy of teenage youth—though often without the forward momentum and richness of texture of a fully accomplished work. The unnamed narrator is a 14-year-old girl who describes, in detail at times biting and at others long-winded, the travails of teenage life in a coastal English town. A bit awkward when she begins school, she learns how to fit in with the cool kids by letting the boys stick their hands up her skirt during break. Soon she has a clique of friends and a mean-spirited, acne-covered boyfriend named Robin, whom she meets for lunch to smoke pot and roll around on the grass with. Slowly her real psyche is revealed when Robin begins to hit her: she likes it, or, more accurately, craves the extreme sensation to feel alive. So begins the narrator's masochism. When Robin falls in love with her, she pushes away his gentleness and begins dating 31-year-old Oliver. More interesting, though, than her romantic relationships are her familial ones—with her loving if volatile father and silent mother, left-wingers who have slipped into a life of disillusionment and endless arguing. Her parents' fighting, the increasingly violent relationship with Oliver, and her gradual withdrawal from school life set the stage for self-mutilation as she cuts herself repeatedly—another desperate act for some kind of cold comfort. While the speaker provides a bleak, honest assessment of youthful angst, too much, given all that happens, is left unsaid or unexplained: her parents' acceptance of a grown man sleeping with their daughter (in their house); her largely undisclosed relationshipswithfriends; and, most importantly, the lack of self-reflection on the teller's part. Graphic and guileless, as well as underdeveloped, though admittedly intriguing if only because of the author's youth.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802137005
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/2000
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,022,203
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I was about thirteen when I started letting the boys feel me up. There was a whole bunch of them, four or five, and at lunchtime we'd all meet up; smoking a spliff out on the pitch if it was sunny, round their table in the library if it wasn't. We'd all be sitting around, eating our lunches, and Joel or Craig or some other boy I didn't really like would start putting his hand up my shirt. Or my skirt, I had a really short skirt and fucking awful legs but I'd roll the waistband up on it to make it shorter anyway.

    It was never some big major thing, they just did it while they were talking. I guess my tits weren't as interesting as talking about what makes the best roach material, but they kind of filled the gap between Rizla packets and tape covers.

    I didn't talk much, just listened to them. Well, everyone listened really, you didn't have much of a choice. I guess they hadn't seen the sign on the wall that said SILENCE IS GOLDEN AND THIS LIBRARY IS FOR READING. But then, they didn't really have to pay attention to things like that because they were popular.

    The tables in the library were arranged so that as many people as possible had to sit with their backs to each other, and they were fixed to the floor so no one could move them. The librarian's name was Mrs Midwinter, which sounds like something out of Dickens but isn't. Nobody believed she was a Mrs, either — she didn't have any wedding ring. She was a very tall woman and her clothes weren't quite tall enough for her body. She had a huge load of grey hair piled up on top of her head and reallypinkcheeks that looked like she'd been slapped both sides. She was the sort of person that always spoke in a whisper, even when she was shouting.

    She was new to the school, a replacement for the old librarian, Miss Herbert, who'd had a nervous breakdown. I wasn't in the school then but I heard it happened when someone hacked into the computers so that every time anyone used them they locked out with one single message flashing on the screen. All eight printers going berserk, printing HERBY FUCKS HERSELF WITH A RULER UNDERNEATH THE DESK till they started chewing up the paper. Everyone said Mrs Midwinter was just temporary but I didn't think Miss Herbert would work with children again. I heard from our form tutor that she was a born-again Christian now, but people have funny ways of dealing with things. Maybe that was why they decided to hire Midwinter as a replacement. She looked like your granny on the surface, but I knew she'd trained with the marines.

Even Mrs Midwinter couldn't handle our table, though, because our table wasn't just five boys. Our table had Holly, and Holly could do what she wanted. Holly was perfect. Long, slim legs, big tits, big mouth, eyes; everything was big except her arse. Natural-blonde hair. She was the kind of person who warned everyone she was going to fart and gangs of blokes flocked round her, just to get a whiff. Sometimes, while everyone else was talking, she'd take out this little pocket mirror and lay it on the table, bend over it and spend an hour or so squeezing spots that weren't there. Her face'd go lumpy and swollen and all puffy when she squeezed, her eyes'd water. But red and lumpy looked good on Holly. I wished I could be red and lumpy like she was.

    She hardly ever went out in town. I never did either, but I didn't have a good reason like Holly. Her sister was in university, and she went out to city clubs with her, I heard her talking about it sometimes. Clubs you had to have ID for, clubs you had to be twenty-one for, but all the clubs let Holly in for free. She didn't even have to let the bouncers feel her tits. Holly didn't have to let anyone feel her fits, but I wasn't like Holly. I never would be like Holly, so I had to find another way of getting along. I had to let them feel me up.

    I didn't like doing it but I didn't really hate it either. It's one of those things you get used to, like bras that cut off the circulation in your nipples. It was necessary. I knew I'd never really be one of them, they'd all been friends since they were little so they could tell me to fuck off whenever they wanted. I never kidded myself, I knew that wasn't going to change. But I got to be sought after in a funny, dirty kind of way. I got the wolf whistles and the stares. Because I wanted them. And because I wasn't the kind of girl you had to like. I was the kind of girl you fucked.

    Not that I did fuck them, any of them. Things never went that far. But still, they knew they could, if that was what they asked for, and I guess it added up to the same. It felt good in a way, though. I wanted to go to school every day, I wanted to hear their cat calls, I wanted to feel their hands. I guess I felt, for the very first time, like I'd been accepted.

    I never thought I would be, you see. Things started off badly at High School and I never thought they'd get better. Things started badly from the very first lesson on my very first day. From the moment that I realized I needed a shit.

    I was sitting in maths, mid period, they'd sat us alphabetically so we could all be friends. I went to the front of the room, trying to push my thighs together and still walk in a way that looked near normal. It didn't help. I could tell that they'd all noticed me by the way the room went silent. Everyone just sitting there and I could see on their faces the one thought going round: there goes a girl who needs a shit. The door sounded very loud when I closed it behind me.

    The PTA had set up signs in every corridor pointing out the toilets. Only someone had crossed out Toilets on the one in the maths block. They'd written Shit Holes instead, and I guess I could see why.

    The whole block had that damp lavatory smell and the concrete was stippled to hold the stains better. One of the cubicle doors was open and I could see toilet paper flowing out of the bowl and over the seat, clogged up, with a tampon on top like a cherry. All the paint was chipped off the doors and none of the locks worked, so that you had to piss with one leg up, holding the door closed, getting piss all over your leg. I headed for the cubicle on the corner, unzipped my fly and took a handful of paper to make a careful circle on the seat. I'd already let things roll by the time the voice said

    `Christ! what a smell!'

    I froze on the toilet seat, halfway to relief.

    `Smells like a dog's!'

    `It is a fucking dog's!'

    Laughter. And I was only half through. I stared at the door in front of me. Someone had written LEILA FUCKS HORSES on it in Tippex.

    `Smells like hippy shit.'

    `Hippies smell like that anyway.'

    It was still coming. I didn't believe in God, but I prayed then. I prayed it would be quiet. It wasn't.

    `Fuck! There goes another one! Sounds like a veggie-burger just hit the fan!'

    `A hippy burger, you mean.'

    They said more than that. A lot more, but I don't remember much of it. I thought if I waited there in silence long enough they might start to believe they were talking to an empty lavatory. So I sat there, skirt around my midriff, trying to breathe as quietly as I could.

    Being embarrassed, that was my mistake. If I'd walked out as soon as they'd started, if I'd made some joke about it, everything would have been Ok. But I was always the sort of person who tried to cover their farts and failed. So I froze.

    And after about fifteen minutes, the voices stopped. I thought I'd won; outwaited them. Either they thought they'd made a mistake, or they'd just got bored and left. I wiped. I flushed. I stood up and opened the door. And I came face to face with them.

    `Have a nice shit, hippy?' She was blonde, but I didn't really see her face. I walked to the sinks, not looking at them but knowing they were looking at me, and I washed my hands.

    `Hippies shouldn't be allowed to use the same bogs.'

    `They stink 'em out for everyone else.'

    `I thought you liked shitting in the bushes best?'

    I dried my hands on one of those paper towels that are designed not to absorb moisture.

    `Nice talking to you, hippy.'

    `Fuck off back to your caravan.'

    I dropped it in the waste basket as I walked away. And I didn't say a word.

Dad asked me about my first day just about as soon as he got home, and I'm not really sure why I lied to him. I was sitting in the kitchen watching Mum make the nut roast when he brought a bag of shopping in, bending through the door. I could tell by the way his breath went up and down that he was tired. Still, he spared a smile for me, sitting down at the kitchen table. Across the room, I heard Mum switch the radio on, and I didn't speak, biting my lip, waiting for him to ask.

    `Christ,' he said, and pulled his tie out sideways, reaching for the shopping bag. The kitchen light made a little warm spot on his bald patch. `So,' he said. He looked across at me, pulled a beer can from the bag. `How'd it go?'

    `It was excellent,' I said.

    `Really?' He gave a nod, slow and staring at the table. `Good ...'

    `We did physics. They don't call it science, right — they call it physics. English, art ...'

    `Uh-huh. And how did that go?'

    `What, the art? Cool. The teacher's really nice and she let us sit wherever we wanted. We started a self-portrait, right ...'

    `A self-portrait?' He looked up, cracked the can. `You did those with me ages ago.'

    `Yeah ... but she says we're gonna learn how to do them with perspective.'

    `We did that too. Last summer. Christ, you know these teachers spend half their time trying to catch up.' His eyes swapped back to the table. `Oh well,' he said. `You'll know how to do a good job, anyhow.' He breathed out and I saw him glance behind my shoulders. `I bought some extra oil,' he said. `I thought we'd probably need some if you're doing roast. You are doing roast, yeah?'

    Mum nodded, starting from her place by the counter, but I didn't look at her for long.

    `So can I see it then?' He took a swig. `This self-portrait? If this teacher's as crap as she sounds then I'll still be able to help.'

    `Help?' I looked up at him, and Mum's arm came down between us. I could see his face was raised to me, his eyebrows kind of hopeful, and I was pretty relieved when Mum said

    `This is Flora.' She tilted the bottle at him. `It's 50p more expensive, Philip.'

    I saw Dad's mouth open but I got there first. My laugh sounded too loud over the radio. `Oh no! A whole 50p more expensive? How will we afford it? Fifty pence!' I moved around her arm so he could see me shaking my head. `Fifty pence ...' I said, but Dad didn't answer.

    `I could help you sketch it out tonight,' he said. `Give her a shock next lesson.'

    `I ...' I looked down at the table, pressed my lips together. `I'm not sure you're allowed help in High School. I mean, it's not that I don't want you to ...'

    `Oh.' I watched him put the can on the table. `I see,' he said.

    `It's just ... I mean, it wouldn't be fair, would it? Me getting help and no one else.'

    `Right,' Dad said. He shifted, leaning back quickly as his breath squeezed out. He didn't look at me. `No, I can see why. You're in High School now ... you don't want Dad looking over your shoulder at everything you do.'

    `It's not that. It ...' But I wasn't really sure what it was. 1 kept thinking of that blonde girl's face and the way her lip curled up when she looked at me.

    `It's a big change after all,' Dad said. `And I knew this would happen. It's a big move. You're going to make new friends. You'll change ...' He looked at me. `Just make sure you don't change in the wrong direction.'

    Make new friends, I thought. Yeah, I'd certainly done a good job today; maybe Veggieburger-Shitting Hippy was just a friendly kind of nickname. I bit my lip and looked at Dad but he'd already turned away. I felt my stomach sink.

    `What are you doing?' His voice had got colder, watching Mum's elbow tilt as she poured oil into the roasting pan. `Liz, that's cold oil for God's sake.'

    She didn't look back at him. `I'm going to put them in in a minute.'

    I breathed out while he was looking away from me, rubbed my hand against the grain of the table. Thinking of the way his voice had sunk — Oh I see — sent a sharp thing through my chest. I wasn't even sure why I'd said no.

`In a minute?' Dad said, and his voice hadn't got any lighter. `So, what: you're just going to let them lie there in cold oil? Those are parsnips aren't they? They'll get all greasy.'

    `I wouldn't have done it if it was going to hurt them, Philip. I'm going to cook them.'

I looked up at the wall. There's a cork board up above our kitchen table where Mum used to hang a lot of our pictures, when we were only five or six. She doesn't hang so many pictures there these days, though. Which is weird really. We've got a lot better since then. Only because of Dad's help, though.

    He doesn't help Michael so much as he helps me, but Michael's never appreciated his help, that's what Dad says. And now I wasn't appreciating him either. I thought of all those hours he'd spent, teaching me about cross-hatching and structure. All that time, and after four hours in High School I was giving him the brush-off. Sitting at the table I pressed my ankles together, hard, so that they hurt a little bit. I bit my lip, but still that voice in my head was going round. I thought hippies liked shitting in the bushes best? And I wondered what that had to do with it.

Their voices bounced back and forward, like the ball on that old ping-pong computer game you still see around sometimes, and I picked at a hang-nail on the side of my thumb. I'd got a nice house. Not a semi-detached in town, but an old school my dad had spent a lot of money on getting converted. It's quite a way out of town, and in the morning you can hear the birds twittering to each other as well as the traffic from the main road. When Dad found it, it had no roof. He said it would be different, it would be wonderful, he said he knew because he had vision, and I guess he was right because it's got a roof now. It's not a tepee, or anything.

Dad's spent years trying to get our house just right for us, choosing all the stuff. He bought these great big sliding doors to go right across the front of it, but they're old and sometimes they get wet inside from all the condensation. Our cat licks the dribbles off when he's allowed inside. He lives on top of the washing machine in the porch, and he's got a little box there, full of old blankets and stuff. It smells, but Mum's always leaving the laundry on top of it anyway. You can tell when it's been left in the box, the clothes have got hairs all over them and patches of dried dribble. He doesn't mean to dribble, our cat, he can't help it because he's old. And all old cats dribble, I think. It doesn't make our house any different from anyone else's. There's an ironing board next to the washing machine in our porch, but no one ever irons on it. It's got cobwebs between the legs from never being moved, and sometimes the cat craps in the gap behind. He knows no one will find it for weeks. I wondered if that blonde girl'd got an ironing board, and where it was kept in her house.

`Christ.' Dad looked round at me. `She always does this, you know?' I looked up, saw his slight smile settle as I nodded. Seeing that smile I felt something relax in my stomach, something that had tightened without me even noticing. I wished he'd smile like that more often. `You fancy slimy parsnips for dinner?' He laughed. `Mmmm. Cold and greasy. I bet you can't wait.'

    I shrugged, measuring my smile exactly as I felt his pick up at the corners of my own mouth. `Well, you know,' I said quietly. 'I've got used to them.'

    Dad's eyes only rested on me a moment but it was a good moment. Long enough to take some more of that tightness away.

    `You hear that?' he said. `She doesn't want them covered in cold oil either, Liz.'

Their voices faded away again as Dad's eyes left me, and the thought of that blonde girl came back. It rose up, like indigestion when you eat too many chips. I wondered if cold greasy parsnips were a hippy thing too. I didn't know, that was the funny thing. I had no idea what made a hippy, what the little differences might be.

    I tried to think through other people's houses, work out where that difference lay. Like the newspapers, maybe. Mum keeps those in the porch as well. Hundreds of them, mostly the Guardian and Hello! Lying on the floor, discarded like that always makes me think it should be called Goodbye! She keeps all the newspapers she reads and she reads loads. She says you never know when they might come in handy, but I do. I know exactly when they'll come in handy. When we find the craps behind the ironing board. She gets cross when people use them for that though.

They argue about the newspapers, Mum and Dad, because Mum doesn't care about our house or all the effort Dad's put into making it nice for us. He says the newspapers show that. He says people have to come through the porch to get to the house and they have to step over them. He says it gives the wrong impression, and I wondered vaguely what that impression might be. That this house was a hippy house, perhaps.

`Look, Philip. Are you trying to start an argument? You trying to piss me off?'

    `Are you trying to make a horrible dinner?'

    `If you don't like it, don't eat it, alright? I don't give a shit!'

     `Well I can see you don't give a shit, woman! That's your problem!'

Dad wears suits most of the time, and I never saw a hippy wearing a suit. They look great on him too. He keeps all his clothes in his office, so they never go near the airing cupboard, he says, and I can kind of see why.

`Don't tell me how to cook a meal then! I never interfere with what you're doing! When was the last time you cooked a meal for the family? When?'

Mum calls it the airing cupboard, even though there's hardly any air in it. When I was very little and first understood that you were supposed to wear pairs of socks, Mum told me it was the Sock Monster's fault that I didn't have any. She said it lived in the airing cupboard and I believed her because it looked a bit like a monster's den. She said the Sock Monster ate socks but never pairs, that's why I had to wear one black, one blue. She said we were lucky to have a Sock Monster but I don't think Dad agreed.

    By the time I lost my frog mittens, the ones with the strings that go through the back of your coat, I didn't believe in the Sock Monster anymore. Sock Monsters don't eat frog mittens with strings, otherwise they'd be Sock And Mitten Monsters, I thought. I found a spanner in the airing cupboard once, but it wasn't any big surprise. Dad's workshop was full of old clothes, so it seemed kind of logical.

`... Just because you can shout louder, Philip! Well, I can shout as much as you can!'

My friends' dads' workshops aren't anything like my dad's, but I don't see why that would make us hippies. Theirs are always small and usually part of the garage, and all the tools hang up on neat little pegs on the walls. Sometimes they're even labelled, and the nails and screws and those funny U-shaped pegs all have their own boxes — a place for everything and everything in its place. Work clothes hang up on pegs on the walls, aprons and gloves and stuff like that. Dad's workshop's different. It has pegs and shelves around the walls too but Dad never bothers with them, he just uses the floor.

`You're the one who's shouting, Liz. You're just fucking uptight tonight.'

There used to be a chair, somewhere inside the shed, that Mum asked him to reupholster for her sister's wedding present, but she got divorced before he could do it, and even though they're back together now, we haven't found it since.

    None of that stuff ever changes, though. It's always been that way, like Dad helping me with my art. And watching Mum stand there, her face scrunched red against the background wall, I clenched my teeth together.

`I was in a great mood till you came in! And if I'm uptight it's just because ... because ... All I'm trying to do is cook you a meal! You can cook it your fucking self if you want!'

    `Cook it yourself ... Thanks Liz. Thanks for a really nice dinner. I will cook it myself. And it won't taste like shit either.'

    `FUCK YOU!'

    `Yeah,' Dad nodded, but his smile was kind of sad. `Fuck you too, love,' he said. 'It's so nice coming home.'

Dad kind of collapsed as Mum left the room. I watched him flop down on to the table, try to smile as he looked up at me.

    `I'm sorry,' I said.

    He shrugged, looked vaguely round the kitchen. `Great welcome,' he said. I couldn't think of anything to answer though, anything to make it better. I looked at Dad's face and I wished he'd smile again. Don't change in the wrong direction, I thought. But I couldn't even work out which direction that was. Maybe it was best not to try.

    `It'll sort itself out,' I said. `Always does.'

    `Yeah ...' But his eyes didn't look any better, staring at me as he said `I'm glad you had a good time anyway.'

    `Mmm,' I said. A good time. I'd tried, I really had. Tried to have a good time, tried to say hello to people, all that stuff that you're supposed to do. I'd just failed. Funny really, I didn't even understand why. And, watching Dad's attempt at a smile slip further down his face, I drew a breath in, bit my lower lip. `Well,' I said. `Maybe ... maybe if you still want to, you could help me with my picture. Yeah?'

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 73 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2008

    Purely Strange

    This book ended up being nothing at all like the cover and back cover presents it to be. I was intruiged by the author dropping out of school to write this novel at such a young age and it seemed promising. I didn't see it as something relatable at all, and I felt the book to be highly unrealistic. It made me wonder if parents in England would really let their 14 year old daughter not only date, but spend the night with a 27 year old man. I felt the main character was pathetic to allow herself to be used by men and enjoy their physical abuse. I thought this book had a decent plot, although an irritating main character and several unrealistic situations - but the writing lacked, the descriptions tedious and useless. This book lacked commas and sentence structure, which may have been intentional by the author to add to the story, however, only irritated me. Also, the author focused on gritty details of sex, bodily functions, acne, fingernails, self mutilation, etc. I can understand her desire to write a 'raw' novel, but much of it was very unnecessary. This wasn't a terrible book, and certainly not the worst I ever read, but it could have used much improvement, and I didn't enjoy reading it as much as I hoped.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2006


    In my opinion, this novel was written very thinly. The plot of the novel wasn't very developed, and it just seemed like situations were being thrown at the reader, rather than giving it in a way that would involve readers emotionally. What keeps this book from getting only 1 star, is that it wasn't terribly boring. The ending of the novel is also very abrupt and didn't leave me with a sense of closure of the book. I looked for a note that would indicate a sequel, for the book stopped at such a random place.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2004

    A high school sophomore

    This book is just plain bad!The narrator, who remains nameless throughout the novel, has absolutely no self-esteem or good judgement. I think the novel is poorly and unrealistically written and also lacks strong character support. What parents, in their right minds, would let their 14 year old daughter have a boyfriend that's 17 years older than she, and then proceed to allow him to sleep in their house?! The narrator portrays herself as a some what loose teenager who has a passion for S-and-M sex. Please do not waste your money on this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2002

    what is pure?

    im sure this book has meaning to it. but as a 16 year old, i fail to see it. this book does have a strong point, and can be taken close to heart if you can relate to it, but i can't. because of this, the book lost all meaning, and frankly is a sad piece of literature that only skims its potential.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2011

    Somewhat recommended- An interesting read

    In June of 2000, people got to take a look into the not so "pure" life of an unknown character created by Rebbecca Ray. This piece makes it extremely hard to not notice the drastic details of how hard a person's life is while growing up to maturity. As much as one may want to stop reading, they can't help but feel the need to finish this intriguing piece of work. Young Rebbecca "dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to write this novel". To this day, she has written three novels: "Pure", "A Certain Age", and "Newfoundland". She is a British women who shows the love for writing books about the kind of people with the worst kind of issues."Pure" is written fairly well in first person and fits very well into the teen generation. Though not much can be found about this writer, the book shows to reflect her life in a way to the world that makes heads turn. It starts the scene with the protagonists inner thoughts about how she has managed to fit in recently in her British school at the age of 13. From one cut scene to other, the reader finds them self involved with the struggles of the narrator attempt to be "cool" by experiencing new things. A forced experiment relationship suggested by the "cool-girl" starts a not-so-innocent trip that begins small and gradually gets more unbelievable down the road. When consequences turn into greater matters, things only seem to get worse. Rebbecca leaves a disturbing, unique look at the world where things you once thought were normal, now turn into things of the past. She has a different way a typing, to put it in a subtle way. The way she made it so there were no chapters was a strong way to keep a person reading. The calling of the end seemed to never be satisfied. Though her choice of words were difficult, at times, to handle. There was the "English" feel in it when instead of using the word: "kissing", Rebbecca replaced it with the word: "Snogging". Her immature, as well as inappropriate ways of putting things together were as annoying as they were funny. There were times when she would go on and on about a subject when just the same could have been said without so much effort. The adolescence feel of the book was easy to point out, yet the pages kept turning. I personally felt that this novel could have been written in a much better way. It was a "love-hate relationship" for myself; one that I could not stand leaving unread. Anger, confusion, happiness, and even depression filled my mind in the process of reading it. I can see the honest attempt to make a statement. I did enjoy putting my life in someone else's shoes, that was one aspect that kept me going. In all honesty, it got harder and harder to read in the end. Rebbecca left the ending with a great deal a room to fill; leaving one's mind wander. I would recommend this novel to young teens that are going through a rough time through life. This piece reminded me that there is always someone that has it better off than you. It the cold, honest truth: "Pure" was a book that will take a while to get out of my memories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2009

    I'm a teenager now.

    I honestly want to know how many of you that are complaining about this book ever took a risk in their life. The author of this book wrote what she felt at the time, about HER life. Just because you all didn't live your life the same way she did doesn't mean you should put her book down because you didn't know how to get a little wild and crazy when you were a teenager. I am one now, and in some of the parts I felt like I had written it myself. I applaud you, Rebbecca Ray.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Second time around

    The urgency and meaning and desperation that seemed to pour out from the pages the first time I read this book have rather lost the necessity in which they once spoke and the meaning has slowed to a dull trickle. While you cannot deny that the author has a way with the written word that way may have lost its charm when I gained my sense of self. This book must be geared for those who have not found their inner self -worth yet. For those who are still struggling with that age-old question 'who am I?' Because once you have entered the realm of adulthood and the realization that you are who you are and you have at least an ounce of self-worth this book becomes completely unrelatable. Now if you want to reminisce with the times that still make you cringe this book may be able to let you do that, but only for a very few brief pages which are far and few between. The first line back ten years ago when I was still waiting at the door of decency drew me right in. It was unabashed, 'pure' poetry to my eyes. It was finally something that made me think I was not alone, girls do think about sex, they are blunt; they aren't always these delicate little flowers. Now, that first line made me almost embarrassed for the main character, which remains nameless, I think as a way for the author to really try and make it seem like this girl could be anyone, even you. That first line was powerful either way you look at it, because you wanted to keep reading after 'I was about thirteen when I started letting the boys feel me up.' Just nonchalant and matter of fact. This is the way that the rest of the book precedes. Rebbecca Ray just lays it all out on the table for you. Not afraid to offend, not worried about how she might seem, because this is real. This is how girls are and what they think and do. And if that was the only audience this book ever had, the girls who don't know who they are, who don't know how others live, then this book would be a classic success. It is when you have someone other than what I think would be her intended audience read this that you will find some large flaws. Not in the technical stuff, but in the character herself. In the message that is sprawled across 400 pages of teen angst, sex, drugs, and self-mutilation. By the end of the book I was not sure what the point was of this draining journey of what should have been self discovery but was more self-destruction. When I read this ten years ago I thought I had it all figured out, but now I can't remember what exactly it was that was resolved in this novel. There really was no climax, no real point; it was just to write a story. It was kind of an aimless journey through the brain of a fourteen year-old girl. The whole time I was reading this I couldn't help but feel that this was her unannounced autobiography. That she was this girl that she still had no idea who she was, but that at sixteen when she left school the write this book she knew she needed to tell her story. Maybe it was a way for her to start her own catharsis to expel some of these horrible thoughts she had. Maybe she needed an audience to tell her that this was normal, that all fourteen year-old girls date twenty-seven year old men and beg to be smacked across the facface when having sex. If all that Ray had set out to do . If all that Ray had set out to do was tell a story and find new ways to describe oily faces and painful sex, then yes, this book is a masterpiece.

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  • Posted September 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    an ironic title

    It was very ironic how the title is called, "Pure", when there is nothing pure about the protagonist. I was a little dissapointed about the end. The novel wazs very dull, because there was alot of information that was not necessary for over 400 pages.

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  • Posted March 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Purely Enjoyable

    I really enjoyed this book. I think it showed the difficult parts of growing up and making your own decisions, and how easy it is to mess it up.

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  • Posted November 13, 2008

    Quasi-Real But In The Most Enjoyable Way.

    This book was great read, it doesn't seem extremely realistic but it does give you the raw and tearing view of the main character. You cringe when you read what happens to her, and sometime you have to stop and say What?<BR/>All in all it's a great book even if you don't believe her whole story is true.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2008


    This book is one of the most amazing novels i have ever read. i'm a huge bookworm and i'm very picky about what i read. When i read this book i was amazed at how truthful it really was. This book changed my life!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    I couldnt put this book down! I barely read but it only took me two days to read Pure. The main character was highly disturbed, and in my personal,blunt opinion, a slutty idiot. She was very judgemental and rude, especially to Dawn. However, Dawn was annoying and felt sorry for herself. I think everyone knows people like the people in this book. The ending was not as good as i hoped. I feel like a sequal should be coming out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2007

    A great book!!!!!

    i'll admit that this book is not what i expected but i loved it!!!! it's very good and it deals with a lot of things that teens are dealing with now, such as cutting and sex. But did anyone get the main characters name? i don't remember seeing it. And her friend Dawn, man i want to punch her!! over all this was a very good, exiting page turner!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2006


    'Pure' is well-written, realistic and heart-breaking. Anyone can relate to something in this book. I loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2005

    The real deal darlin

    this book is perfect for teens to read to understand what other people go through. My friend gave me this book and said it was compleatly horrible, and when I started to read it, I was easily able to relate to the book. I do think this is NOT a book a 13 year old girl should be reading, Instead I would suggest wait a few years and then you will appreciate it more because you may be able to relate to it as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2005

    Very Picky Book

    This book is good depending on the reader as is every book. I personally like this book because although not every teenager is like this, it is real life situations. There are many young 'pure' teenage girls that at this age become 'unpure' in many different senses and at age 15 I can say I've been through similar things so I can see how to a little goody goody this book can be gross and appalling but to me and where I come from, this is normal (real) life stuff. I recommend this book to people who understand reality and can handle it because this book is soft compared to the real world. So the little 13 year old girl who thought this book was terrible is going to have a rude awakening when she enters the ghetto, and/or the real world, and sorry she was so sheltered and thinks that when you read a book that you have to live like the book. -Hey 13 year old, books are for entertainment and leisure, not for telling you you have to live like that.- This was a very interesting and good book, I didn't want to put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2005


    Pure was a very interesting novel yet very true to what can happen in adolesent life. Ray doesn't leave out anything and she describes what exactly goes on in the narrators life (the main character). Some teens may be able to relate to it which would make this book enjoyable to read. Pure is very humorous at times but it is also serious. The excitement throughout the novel is what keeps you reading. This shocking story is very well written and worwhile reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2005

    Not as good as I'd hoped...

    This seemed like a lot to take in, I feel like a bunch of things have just been thrown at me. For the first half of the book I thought her friend Dawn was sleeping with her dad, or wanted to, although I think she really just wanted to sleep with her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2005

    I gave it to my lil sis to read.

    This book is touching and shocking, yes. It seems raw and hazy and reminded me of my teen years. I gave it to my lil sis to read hoping that she DOESN'T relate to it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2005

    Not Pure At All

    I was horrified by this book completely and utterly. I am 13 years old and I will NOT be anything like that when I am 15. I feel that this book is extremely unrealistic and despicable. I think that the title is very misleading as well. There I was, hoping for a nice book to read for leisure and this is what I got. I am extremely displeased (and perhaps disturbed) by this book. To erase it forever from my mind would be a miracle.

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