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Pure Paperback – June 15, 2000
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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.
Top customer reviews
The only place I had trouble in terms of believing the plot was when the parents let the older man stay over. But then I remembered she snuck off to see him anyway. So her dad really hadn't much choice. He knew his daughter would do as she wished, that's why he tried casually intimidating the man in person. He, his wife, and Dawn were trying to supervise them anyway. Plus the mother had a relationship like this already so she got where it was coming from. This situation has happened multiple times in my family so it DOES happen in real life, more often than you think. Calling the cops would've made the daughter rebel more and also cops invariably don't want to be bothered with this crap. They barely even do anything about the NON-consensual statutory rape perverts anyway. Though her appearance is rarely discussed the MC must look 18-21 since that's what Oliver said to begin with. Plus, that's what she apparently aims for.
The thing I liked best about this book was all the dark and/or dirty humor. Could've used more, but I'm judging this review mainly based on the author's age at the time.
I think the term I use 'Like a Yo-Yo' will be understandable now after reading my review of this book.
This book read more like a Enligh class book and NOT a book you would read over and over again on your own time.
In the end, that's how I found it.
At the time I was reading a lot of dirty literature and from the title I thought this was going to be a fun and titilating novel. I was wrong. PURE is about a lot of things. And when you first read it it's easy to think it's about a girl's coming of age. There's a lot of sex talk and even some sex (although titilating it decidedly is not). However, what PURE is really about is abuse.
The narrater (name is never given which is an interesting and successful choice) has grown up in a home where the father rules all. His abusive language toward the mother has shaped the way both children regard her and has turned them into tiny abusers themselves. In a home where nothing s ever right, nothing is ever good enough and eggshells cannot be avoided, the narrater has turned all of that hate and self deprication inward.
There is nothing about herself that she values which leads her from one bad decision to the next. Even the very first line of the book shows how she ust doesn't care about herself. "I was about 13 when I started letting the boys feel me up." From drug to domestic abuse, to dating a man 17 years her senior to self mutilation, the narrator continues on a path of self destruction which is not only tragic but within the pages of PURE is completely understandable.
This book isn't for the faint of heart, but it is brilliantly written. The slow boil and intimate prose creates a world where by the end you don't even know who you are rooting for.
Most recent customer reviews
I have never said this about a book before, this being my one and only BAD review, but I did not find one...Read more