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Pure Paperback – June 15, 2000

120 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I was about thirteen when I started letting the boys feel me up." Thus the reader is catapulted directly into the conflicted world of a smalltown English schoolgirl in 20-year-old Ray's relentlessly driven debut novel (she left school at 16 to write it). The narrator (whose name is never given) lives with her constantly bickering hippie vegetarian parents and her younger brother. Her self-pitying, feckless father obsesses over her homework, friends and clothes, and enlists her aid in belittling and disparaging her mother. When she reaches high school, the narrator desperately wants to join the in-crowd. She's in luck when she starts dating Robin, who is part of the popular group. Soon she abandons her former, less cool friends and spends lunch hours "snogging" with Robin. Strangely, Robin's touch does not appeal to the narrator until he hits her and she experiences her first sexual response. Robin loses his masochistic appeal when he says that he loves her, and the narrator moves on to Oliver, a 27-year-old consumer electronics salesman. Oliver's rough treatment proves orgasmic; his escalating violence releases her impulses toward self-mutilation. The narrator's befogged passivity (evidenced by her constant repetition of the phrase "I wondered") and her fascination with the sordidness of the physical side of life (a favorite word is "disgusted") make her mind a somewhat claustrophobic place to be, while her eventual insights into her family dysfunction will seem dated to those who grew up with Catcher in the Rye. However, the novel's structureAshort segments, no chapters and zingy clinchersAmoves this compelling story along swiftly to a surprising conclusion. The narration is leavened with touches of deadpan humor and spot-on observations that add credibility and demonstrate Ray's promise as a writer, despite some evidence of immaturity in her craft. Agent, Patrick Walsh.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; (3rd) edition (June 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802137008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802137005
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,349,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on August 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
In a nutshell: Pure is the story of a 14-year-old girl who makes very bad decisions. That's really all I can say about this book. And while I didn't dislike the story itself, I wasn't in love with it either. The prose was a little stressful at times and did not make for an entirely pleasurable experience. However, I believe Pure is quite an accomplishment for young author Rebbecca Ray, and she deserves much praise for this effort.
The narrator (never does give a name) starts out as your basic trying-to-fit-in high school teenager. Of course, her game -- allowing boys to feel her up -- is less than admirable. So begins the story of Pure, a bumbling, tedious, and never funny jaunt through the troubled mind of a girl who craves attention in the most unhealthy way.
As for the surrounding story lines with the narrator's embarrassing, awkward friend, Dawn, who becomes increasingly obsessed with her, and the relationship between Philip and Liz, the narrator's parents, who seem to have some problems of their own, I felt the author could have explored their stories more and closed up some of the gaps.
I was drawn into the story, but the writing was too descriptive for my taste. There were times when I read this book like it was my favorite, but there were also times when I was just plain tired of it. Pure is definitely one novel that teeters the fence. Also, by including more about the supporting characters and the reasons behind their actions, I believe Pure could have been more of a well-rounded novel. But I will be keeping my eye out for the next Rebbecca Ray book -- with maturity and experience under her belt, I'm sure the next one will be worth it.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Riese on February 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
I generally don't enjoy reading books with teenaged legs and sunflowers on the cover. I often read on the subway, and it can be a bit embarassing. If I chose to weather the pornographic implications of such cover art, I expect to be rewarded for my sacrifice--with, say--A GOOD BOOK. I'd even settle for full characters who change and grow. I'd settle for dialogue that occasionally rose above tediousness and pointlessness--perhaps dialogue that, in fact, advanced the plot or advanced character development. If I am going to sit on the L train with a book that slightly resembles a Baby-Sitters Club Epic, I would like for that book to be enriching/rewarding/entertaining/redeeming. Why is this book 400 pages long??!!!! Nothing happens. The family has the same conversations over and over again, and nothing ever changes, and the father character is so irresponsibly designed that his dialogue is virtually identical to that of her 31-year-old boyfriend, Oliver. No one comes alive, except maybe the mother. I found almost nothing to hold on to in the entire novel. The opening line was intriguing. From there on out, it becomes progressively worse. I felt only for one person: the mother. Because she sat in the background, hands folded meekly, kind of depressed and annoyed, for the entire book. Which was a lot like how RR made me feel, too.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jenny on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I think most would agree that this book will hold your attention throughout. It's certainly an involving read, but it has some problems. First of all, I don't think (contradictory to what other reviewers have said) that this book is written poetically at all. I think it's an admirable first book for such a young author, but she certainly has much room for improvement. Her characterizations were quite shallow and much was left unexplored. Why would any parents (no matter how consumed with their own problems they might be) allow their 14 year old daughter to carry on an obviously sexual relationship with a 31 year old man? In their own house? We aren't talking about parents who are out of the house at all hours working multiple jobs/drinking/engaging in illicit activities. These are middle class parents with a stay at home mother. Not believeable. There are other issues left unexplored, which, if explored, would have made for a much richer novel. What was Oliver's (the 31 year old boyfriend) motivation for entering into a relationship with a 14 year old. We get glimpses, but ultimately, his characterization is shallow. What about the relationship between the father and Dawn, the gangly friend of the narrator? What about the ongoing war between the parents for their daughter's affections? If the author had spent a bit more time developing her characters and less time with the play-by-play, the novel would be deeper. We should somehow at least sympathize with the protagonist here. However, we cannot fully do so. So many of her actions are inexplicable. The author may have it all laid out in her mind, but there are too many gaps here. I'm not saying authors should lay out everything in black and white, but I do feel that fleshing out characters is necessary. Ultimately, an interesting read, but it may leave you unsatisfied.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
First and foremost, I think this author shows a lot of promise, and not just because of her age. Yes, the author is 16, and its amazing that she wrote any kind of novel at all. But beyond her age, she has some really innovative ideas...I thought it was very creative to not give the narrator a name--it creates an "everygirl" type image. I also thought the characterization of her parents, and the narrators' growing appreciation for her mother as a person, were remarkable. The parents are disillusioned former hippies. As things have not gone well for the family economically, the narrator's father has become bitter and hostile toward Liz, the narrator's mother, using the children as a pawn and lurking deep in the depths of self-pity.
That said, there are huge problems with the novel. Integral characters just drop out of the story with no further mention. Most problematic is the ending. It seems as though the author simply got tired of writing the book. There is no resolution whatsoever of the narrator's relationship with her 31-year-old abusive boyfriend, or of the narrator's cutting, or of her relationship with her friend Dawn. The narrator's hostility toward her father seems to surface with a vengance out of nowhere in the final scene. I really wish the author of this book would have either started to tie things up sooner or written an additional 50 pages or so.
However, all in all, I think the book is a rough gem. The author needs some time to develop her style and to work out some of the kinks, but since she was only 16 when she wrote the book, I'm sure she'll be able to do it.
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