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3.4 33
by Terra Elan McVoy

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Tabitha and her four best friends all wear Purity Rings, symbols of the virginity-until-marriage pledge they made as tweens. Now the girls are fifteen, and their rings have come to symbolize not only their purity, but also the friendships and identities they've built based on their shared faith. Simmering tensions rise to the surface and the group is split apart


Tabitha and her four best friends all wear Purity Rings, symbols of the virginity-until-marriage pledge they made as tweens. Now the girls are fifteen, and their rings have come to symbolize not only their purity, but also the friendships and identities they've built based on their shared faith. Simmering tensions rise to the surface and the group is split apart when one of Tab's friends admits that she and her long-term boyfriend have broken the pledge. In the midst of the confrontations, betrayals, confessions, and revenge that follow, each girl is forced to reexamine her friendships, her faith, and what exactly it means to be pure.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Which is more important, remaining loyal to ideals or loyal to friends? This is one of the questions high school sophomore Tabitha faces in this first novel featuring five Christian girls, who have vowed to remain virgins until marriage. When the girls received their purity rings at age 12, right and wrong seemed clear-cut to Tabitha, but now that she is in high school and dating a boy she really likes, the lines are blurring. The girls' friendships are thrown into flux when one member of the group breaks her promise of chastity, with two hard-liners basically abandoning their former friend, while Tabitha remains compassionate. The story hits at several issues relevant to teens, including freedom of speech, and while some peripheral characters come off a little plastic, Tabitha's relationships, particularly with her new boyfriend and her parents, are well-executed. ("Dad's neuroto-perfections and their early intelli-romance aren't really what I want to be discussing right now," Tabitha thinks during a heart-to-heart with her mother following a fight.) Readers will likely admire Tabitha's openheartedness and unwillingness to see things in black and white. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Tabitha, 15, and her four close friends wear purity rings symbolizing their commitment to abstinence before marriage. When Cara reveals she had sex with her serious boyfriend, Tabitha's best friend, Morgan, declares the breach of promise unforgivable and shuts Cara out, as does Cara's own best friend, Naeomi. Tabitha is caught in the middle, feeling empathy for Cara, yet still wanting to please Morgan, who reacts as if personally betrayed and chooses a new best friend. While sexual abstinence is one theme running through Pure (a book refreshingly free of sexual language, innuendo, or other titillation), the real themes here are the complexities of friendship and Tabitha's personal struggle to live out her Christian faith with integrity in her daily life. Her interactions with domineering Morgan are richly nuanced. The girls' religious beliefs and experiences are portrayed with respect and reflect authentic mid-teen maturity. While Tabitha extends forgiveness to Morgan, the ending is not pat or saccharine but shows personal growth. Tabitha's blooming romance with Jake and her positive relationship with her supportive, if somewhat quirky, parents add pleasant undercurrents to a book that girls of a spiritual bent will enjoy.—Joyce Adams Burner, National Archives at Kansas City, MO
Kirkus Reviews
Tabitha and her four friends all wear purity rings. As tweens, they made a pledge to preserve their virginity until marriage. The girls' lives are relatively drama-free, spent mostly analyzing crushes, going to extracurricular activities and figuring out what to wear. When one of the girls in the group breaks her pledge, the dynamics among the girls change. Morgan, Tabitha's closest friend within the circle, is outraged by the other girl's lack of fidelity and wants her ostracized immediately. Confused by matters of her own faith, Tabitha is forced to decide if she wants to forgive her friend or go with the group. The idea of purity rings and the deep commitment behind it is deftly explored, though the girls themselves prove to be rather vanilla in their characterizations. Even at the height of the climax, the tension fails to build. It is moralistically predictable as well: The girl whose purity is compromised is eventually left by her boyfriend and finds her relationships with friends and family suffer. A squeaky-clean exploration of faith that reads like a watered-down Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (Fiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
"I love this book. Like, love it love it. My heart expanded when I read it — yours will too!" — Lauren Myracle, bestselling author of ttyl and ttfn

"First-time novelist McVoy takes on the hot topic of purity rings (hello, Jonas brothers!) and examines it from many angles. Tabitha’s fast, funny, and very contemporary voice should be a hit with teens....McVoy is very successful at drawing characters kids will care about—even the parents are interesting. Anyone who has wondered about the ramifications of wearing a purity ring, both socially and religiously (and there’s much thoughtful writing about Christianity here), will be left with plenty to think about." —Booklist

"The idea of purity rings and the deep commitment behind it is deftly explored." —Kirkus

"Which is more important, remaining loyal to ideals or loyal to friends? ....The story hits at several issues relevant to teens, including freedom of speech....Tabitha’s relationships, particularly with her new boyfriend and her parents, are well-executed....Readers will likely admire Tabitha’s openheartedness and unwillingness to see things in black and white." —Publishers Weekly

"Pure takes young readers through the daunting early years of high school, where hormones, alliances, obligations and relationships all start to run into one another. It's also written in McVoy's own ebullient style." —Georgia Online News Service

"Terra Elan McVoy's writing is, plainly speaking, wonderful." —The Compulsive Reader

"Terra Elan McVoy's writing is, plainly speaking, wonderful." —The Compulsive Reader

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
970L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


chapter 1

“It looks like an engagement ring,” I tell the spike-haired girl at the counter. Behind me on the green velvet couch, Morgan is crying her face purple. “With a blue stone, like aquamarine?”

The girl flicks her puffy-lidded eyes at the other barista, a thin guy with a shaved head. Not like they both weren’t just watching me as I scrambled under the table, lay flat on the nasty rug, and pressed my face practically against the floor trying to see Morgan’s ring under the abyss of the incense-dusty couch. Not like they hadn’t stood there, not offering to help, as I hoisted up the front end of the couch, revealing nothing but a bunch of wrappers and coffee lids. Not like they offer any reassurance when I write down Morgan’s number and ask them to call if the ring shows up.

“It’s engraved,” I say to the guy, who looks at least slightly sympathetic. “‘Our angel forever’ along the inside? It shouldn’t be hard to miss.”

“People lose stuff here all the time,” Spike Girl says, glancing over my shoulder at Morgan, who’s still crying. She could be vomiting blood, her eyeballs boiling to a liquid, and still I think this girl wouldn’t be fazed. I twist my own ring—a band of pale, multicolored stones set with an emerald-cut Swarovski crystal—on my finger. I pray simultaneously for grace, patience, luck, forgiveness, and for this barbed-wire barista to get over herself and help me help my best friend.

Enter Priah: midnight hair a swinging sheen of straightness, her tiny feet followed by tiny knees, hips, rib cage, shoulders, neck, all topped off with these gigantic violet eyes and a two-thousand-pound grin. Only now she sees Morgan hyperventilating, and her face collapses.

“Oh, sweetie,” she squeal-groans, crouching at Morgan’s knees. “What happened?”

I level my eyes back at the baristas. “Of course we’ll find it,” Priah’s canary voice insists behind me. I know Priah is crossing herself (even though none of us are Catholic), I know this girl in front of me sees it, and I know what she thinks. I don’t care. I turn my back on her. Though losing the ring wouldn’t be near (God forgive me) as awful as losing the virginity it’s symbolically protecting, to Morgan the two might as well be, well, One, and I gotta at least keep trying to help her find it.

The next morning I have two texts from Morgan, so I head to the hallway phone to call her back. I’m strictly forbidden to speak on my cell unless it’s to my parents, and since Mom actually finds a perverse pleasure in looking line by line through the bill for unauthorized calls, there’s no way around this, except for texting if I keep it under twenty per month and never during school.

“What are you doing up so early?” Morgan wants to know right away.

“About to go to work, duh. What about you? I thought I’d go straight to voicemail.”

I’m legitimately surprised at her chipperness, really. After finally leaving Java Monkey yesterday with no ring and only a slim chance of getting it back if it was found, Morgan was beside herself.

“Oh, it’s so exciting! I couldn’t wait to tell you! Did you get my texts? Well, last night at dinner when I told Daddy all about my ring slipping off, he just got the sweetest sheepiest puppiest look on his face.” Morgan’s own face, I can tell from her voice, currently has that rapture look she gets whenever her dad comes into the conversation. “He said that it was a sign, really, because just this week he’d started to go looking for a replacement ring for me in celebration of my sweet sixteen next month, and that my losing that old ring just meant I needed a new one right then, so he’d do the ring now, and then for my birthday go ahead and get me the Audi he’d been considering, but not sure about. Isn’t that great?”

“Of course it’s great.” I remember to add an exclamation point in there. It is great, really. But when you’re on the ninety-millionth instance of divine intervention in your best friend’s life, it’s hard to muster the same excitement as the first time.

“So this morning we’re going up to Buckhead to have a daddy-daughter brunch and then we’ll look at some new rings. Do you want to come?”

“What? To brunch? Can’t. I gotta be at the Center in, like, twenty. Remember?”

“Oh. Right. Work. Well, call me when you’re done, right?”

“Yeah. Probably around five? Mom can drop me off after, I think. We’re still on, yeah?” We’ve been planning to get ready together for tonight’s Jesus-Generation Co-Christian dance since we got the Evite last weekend. We’re always excited about the JGCC events, but this one’s particularly crucial.

“Duh. Why do you think I want you to come over right now? Ooh but soon-soon-soon I’ll be able to pick you up whenever, and whisk you off wherever we want to go!”

“Presuming after tonight I want to be seen anywhere.”

“Oh, come on. The worst that can happen is he’s not there at all, right? It’s not like he’s going to publicly humiliate you or anything. Mainly because I’m not going to let you humiliate yourself. And it’s going to be fun,” she finishes lightly. “Boys or no boys.”

“Right,” I mutter, convincing neither of us. She’s referring to the fact that her own boyfriend, Cody, isn’t coming (because the JGCC group includes churches that openly support homosexuals), and also my own nail-biting hope that Jake—the cute guy I met at the freezing-cold-but-who-cares JGCC hayride in February—will be there.

When I hang up I’m still a little jittery. Tonight’s the first chance I’ve had to see Jake again, at least anywhere outside my mind. We’d gotten squooshed together in the back of one of the pickups during the Valentine’s hayride; our conversation started when he stepped on my hand, turning somehow into episodes of This American Life, whatever happened to bubble tea, and having to read I Am the Cheese, which then turned into my crush. We didn’t really get to say good-bye when everyone started piling out of the trucks and into their own carpool rides, so he never asked for my number, but nevertheless I’ve been increasingly butterflyville for the past six days.

After hanging up with Morgan, I dial Cara’s cell. It goes straight to voicemail, which doesn’t bode well for her attendance tonight, though she did say yesterday at school that she and Michael would try to be there. I leave a message saying we hope she’s still coming. Calling Priah next for last-minute wardrobe requests is a good idea, but I know her family would frown on a breakfast interruption, especially over something so “superficial.” I consider calling Naeomi and asking her again what she’s going to wear, but Naeomi’s not much of a morning person, and I already know when she meets us there she’ll be wearing her favorite baby-blue capris with “something shimmery” up on top. Since there’s no one else to call, really, it’s down to breakfast I go.

When I tromp down the stairs later after my post-work shower, I’m still uncertain about the four tops and jeans plus backup jeans I’ve crammed in my sleepover bag along with the two appropriate, possibly matching pairs of shoes I have, plus makeup, flat iron, and pretty much every piece of jewelry I own. I’ve also called Morgan twice to say I’m thinking of not going.

Dad is waiting for me in the den, flipping through an issue of The Week, wearing his oh-so-hip cargo sweats and yellow rubber clogs. “You ready?” he says, arching his thick eyebrows halfway up his skull.

“Where’s Mom?”

“Oh.” He puts the magazine carefully back in the chair-side rack and frowns. “Well, she suffered an attack of partial-temporary amnesium ridiculosum this morning, and vanished about an hour ago.”

In Dad-ese this means Mom’s pulling one of her famous I’m Independent Even Though I’m a Mother moments and has left me in Dad’s care so that she can shop or go have coffee or do some work at her campus office or whatever.

“Well, I just hope we don’t have to put up Lost Mom flyers again,” I say in an attempt to mask my disappointment. Dad can’t help his dorkiness, and I know he wants to be my favorite. I do love him and all, but before going off to a dance to maybe see a boy she maybe wants to see again if he’s maybe there and maybe remembers who she even is, a girl kinda wants her mom around.

In the car my throat is chalk and I think I’m sweating every drop of moisture in my body out through my palms, so I keep tapping them on my thighs in weak efforts to dry them off. He is probably not going to be there. Probably not. So this is stupid. But thinking that isn’t doing much in the hyper-perspiration department.

“What band is playing again?” Dad asks when we turn onto Morgan’s street.

“Not a band, Dad. A DJ. You know, like at a regular club? Gospel choirs are still reserved for worship only.”

Dad chuckles. “Chaperones going to be there?”

“Yes, Dad.”

“Cell phone charged?”

“Yes, Dad, but I promise to use it only if there’s an emergency.”

“And Mr. and Mrs. Kent know where you’re going to be at all times.”

“Yes, Dad. Gah!”

His eyes are twinkling and I’m only half as exasperated as I’m acting, but when the car stops I’ve got one hand on the door handle and the other undoing my seat belt.

“Okay, okay. I’ll stop.” He leans over to squeeze me around the shoulders and I quick-squeeze him back. “Have a good time and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Come on, Dad.” I hold up my left hand and wiggle my ring at him—a routine he loves. “You already know I won’t.”

Meet the Author

Terra Elan McVoy has held a variety of jobs centered around reading and writing, from managing an independent children’s bookstore, to teaching writing classes, and even answering fan mail for Captain Underpants. Terra lives and works in the same Atlanta neighborhood where her novels After the Kiss, Being Friends with Boys, and Pure are set. She is also the author of The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, Criminal (an Edgar Award nominee), and In Deep. To learn more, visit TerraElan.com and follow Terra on Twitter at @TerraMcVoy.

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Pure 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
shygirl914 More than 1 year ago
I normally don`t read teen fiction (even though it`s for my age) because of the simplistic writing style, however the synopsis inside the cover seemed interesting, so I decided to read it. I was blown away with how amazing and compelling the book was. Mrs. Mcvoy does write simplistically, but she captures emotions so well! The main character is a girl named Tabitha. When she and her best friend, Morgan were 12 they made a purity pledge, Morgan getting a ring from her parents and Tabitha receiving one from Morgan. Later on they meet Priah, Naeomi, and Cara, who have also pledged to remain abstinent until marriage. While at a dance, Tabitha meets a cute boy named Jake who kisses her and eventually becomes her boyfriend. She is very dissapointed that none of her friends other than Cara seem to understand-or even be happy for-her. Tabitha and Cara start to become very close due to their interest in their boyfriends. Little does Tabitha know that Cara is unhealthily obsessed with her boyfriend, Michael-her grades have dropped serverley and she hangs out with him more than anyone else. Tabitha is shocked when Cara tells her that she has broken her vow and given her virginity to Michael. When the other girls find out about this, they decide that Cara is a terrible person who can never be trusted and completley abandon her. Tabitha knows that what Cara did was wrong, but she also wants to be there for her friend. She gets into a big fight with Morgan about this, and suddenly their long lasting friendship ends. For the first time in her life, Tabitha has to decide where she stands and what she believes in. This is an amazing book that I`m sure any girl will love.
piddles158 More than 1 year ago
There were SO MANY characters that I found that I never knew who anyone was, even three-fourths of the way through. With all of the different character threads, I don't think it will be a book I remember (If I had to take a test on it now I probably would fail, and I just read it last month). Nice idea behind it, but I don't recommend it for anyone. Unless you like to be utterly confused. In that case, have at it. :)
Sarah Puccio More than 1 year ago
this book at first is really good then turns in the religious wars. each girl has a different commintment to their religion. unless you are very religious or don't mind all the different aspects, this would not be a good book for you.
SarahER More than 1 year ago
me and all my friend wear purity rings too. thankfully none of what happened in this book has happend to us :)
MizLaurenMyracle More than 1 year ago
Love luv lurve!!!!! Sooooooo good. Could not put. It. Down. And just say you, like, have opinions about what it means to be a Christian? Or wear a purity ring? Get ready to be CHALLENGED, dear hearts, cuz PURE will flip your expectations right over on their purty little heads!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This might be Ms. McVoy's first book, but hopefully it won't be her last. Being a teenager was hard, and it's even harder now - as well as that terrible "tween" period. This book is great for both of those groups and will be a great way to open up conversation between you and your daughter. I highly recommend it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is an amazing book that you must read, but i wish there had been an epiloge or a longer ending. It leaves u wanting more!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The beginning is great, but then it just kind of drops. The end picks back up a little, but it basically just drags you. I suggest something else.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book for teens. I loved it from cover to cover.
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pinkapril07 More than 1 year ago
Terriable do not read
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Amber Collier More than 1 year ago
this book was actually pretty good,but it left me wanting more.
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Karina5 More than 1 year ago
this book really opened my heart.<3 i see love in a whole differnet way now. and it also teaches about true friendship(: great for girls who are in a diffcult stage in life...
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