I should start by pointing out that Rebbecca Ray was only 16 years old when she began writing Pure, and it shows. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because the novel is about adolescence, Rebbecca Ray’s age while writing the novel keeps her closer to the subject matter. At the same time, her age often shows in her unpolished writing via some shallow characterization and a very poor ending. Pure is an admirable first effort for such a young writer and a decent cotton candy read but it is by no means a fantastic or important novel. I may have found this book more interesting than most due having enjoyed other, better novels with similar themes involving female adolescence.

Our unnamed narrator is a 14-year-old girl who is struggling desperately to find her place. She’s struggling to feel anything at all, really. The story begins with what appears to be a relatively normal British kid with problems the typical problems of peer acceptance, minor family problems, and just wanting to grow up. As the story moves forward we find that our main characters life is more complicated and not nearly as normal as we first expected. The narrators emotional ambiguity and sad apathy seem tip prove the helplessness of adolescence. The uncertainty of how to judge what is happening to her seems to the most poignant and truthful theme in the novel and that also of our teenage years that provide so many new experiences. As thing in her life become more complicated, problems with her parents escalate. When her overbearing father and ineffectual mother fall further apart, their 14-year-old daughter begins dating a man over twice her age. She allows, then craves abusive relationships and before long her feelings of self-loathing become self-destructive: hurt becomes love, repulsion becomes sexy, and pain is part of fitting in.

This novel harbors very little joy and it’s not sensational or sentimental. But being along similar veins of Perks Of Being A Wall Flower and Kids, this book is interesting in that it is both fascinating and upsetting to look at how growing up has changed for the modern child. You wince for the girl in this book, but you also relate; remembering what it was like, having been in that cool basement, on that lumpy couch, wondering if they actually like you back or are just fumbling toward an incomprehensible and obscure maturity too.

3 thoughts on “Pure”

  1. Thirteen is a pretty good movie, definitely worth seeing. In reviews there’s a lot of sympathy for the parents of the kids, something I couldn’t figure at all because the parents are so uninvolved, blind and stupid in that movie I just wanted to clobber them.

    If you really want to see a disturbing film about suburban teenage life, rent Ken Park. That film is completely and utterly devoid of hope. It’s a crusher. I can’t watch movies like this anymore.

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