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A Certain Age

2.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,751 ratings  ·  169 reviews
'I lost my virginity to a twenty-five year-old man. And on a schoolnight, too.' Sex with an Older Man Parents who don't understand Politics in the playground Blowjobs behind the bike-sheds Skinning up in the schoolyard It's what happens when you reach a Certain Age. Just the hormones kicking in. We've all been there . . . haven't we? A CERTAIN AGE - the reality behind the ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 5th 1998 by Penguin Books (first published 1998)
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2.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,751 ratings  ·  169 reviews

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Sheryl Steines
This won't be a typical book review. It actually won't be a book review at all. It wasn't one of those experiences that I would jump up and down and scream, YOU MUST READ THIS!

I talked to you last week about some censorship issues forming between Pay Pay and Smashwords and as a result, my friend Pavarti has issued a Questionable Book Challenge, that I accepted. The first book I read was Pure by Rebbecca Ray. Like I said, I'm not going to review this book in the traditional sense, rather, I'm goi
Jul 29, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one.
I've never willingly thrown a book away. But this one went straight into the garbage can as soon as I finished it. (Why did I finish it?!) And I didn't just give it away like I normally might because a). I didn't want anyone else to have to endure it, and b). I was that upset about how much of my time this book had stolen out of my life. What a terrible book. I guess I just hoped eventually it would get better...that it had to...
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I read this book in high school and I have never so vigilantly begged other people not to read a book- but the damn title seems to be too alluring to pass up.

Obviously it's been years since I have read it, so I don't feel fully qualified to comment on the quality of the writing, but the story and situations are consistently sad, eerily violent, and filled with dissatisfaction and unhappiness. By the time you reach the end it feels like many bad things happened yet nothing much really happened a
AJ LeBlanc
This one is hard to rate. On one hand it’s a powerful and painful snapshot of what happens when parents suck and a girl has no outlet to create her identity. I really responded to the girl’s emotional blankness and how she wants everything to be perfect, but keeps herself detached from everything that happens to her. I’m also impressed that Ray was sixteen when she started writing it.

It’s not the type of book that you can say you liked because so many horrible things happen, but it’s the type o
Jul 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, loved-it
I loved this book; I love that the author was like 17 when she started writing it. It's a little clunky and the ending left something to be desired, but hey, who needs perfection?

**Update** Wow, I just saw Pure listed on the "Unpopular" shelf; it appears I am among four others who actually LIKED this book. What spectacularly poor ratings! In retrospect...I still really like this book. I didn't find it boring, nor did I think the writing sucked. And honestly, I thought that, given her tender age,
Jul 16, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While at the shore with some friends, we picked up this book in a used book store. Judging by the cover, we thought it would be a light, chicklit book perfect for the beach. Even the summary on the back made it seem interesting and also somewhat innocent. As soon as my friend and I began taking turns reading the chapters, we soon realized that this book was far from a happy, romantic chicklit and far from any young adult book we have ever read, and not in a good way.

Ultimately, this book is abo
Dec 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For the love of all that is holy - DO NOT read this book.

I have never said this about a book before, this being my one and only BAD review, but I did not find one redeeming quality in this book.

Aside from the super creepy "ick factor" of having parents that are "OK" with their 13 year old daughter dating someone twice her age, I had many issues with this book.
Although many people have what is oft-labeled a "dysfunctional" family nowadays, this family takes the cake. Their relationships are so
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best
I haven't wanted to think about this book because while I liked it and identified with it, every other review I've read has completely trashed it. Not for any of the usual reasons like plot inconsistencies or unconvincing characters. I really got the impression that the reviewers just didn't like the idea that this was the experiences some of us had as young women. They hated the book, but it seemed that really, they hated the protagonist (and the author because it was supposed to be autobiograp ...more
Asghar Abbas

Harrowing. It was very, very unsettling to read .
Mostly because it felt more like a memoir than a novel.
Grim and bleak but not in a cathartic way.
It's a shame really because this is a very well written book .
Nobilis Reed
This book never really caught my imagination. I managed to get about 2/3 of the way through it, but I never felt like I really had to finish.

This is basically a slice-of-life narration by a fairly ordinary British teenager. She has a family, they're quirky. She has a boyfriend, and then another one, each of them are quirky. They have quirky sex. She has a best friend, she's quirky. They're all quirky, all about evenly so. It all ends up being a kind of background noise of eccentricity that fails
Melissa Hyndman
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing coming of age story of the pressure to fit in with other teens, smoking and alcohol, domestic relationships, sex and of course, falling in love with and older man.

This was one of those 'must not put down' books. It's a very easy read and I could relate to some of the things mentioned in the book.

It is a truly amazing book and I would definitely recommend it if you like young adult boots. Rebbecca Ray excelled herself in this book.
Kellie W
Jan 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
... what the hell kind of ending was that? (spoiler-it wasn't). No. if you're thinking of reading this, don't. Just... No.
I wanted to read this to see how it fared in relation to my teenage years in any way, it didn't really, I didn't do the 'Sex with an Older Man' scenario although I admit teenage boys were not up to scratch at all. I wasn't a self harmer and my realtionship with my parents wasn't as bad.

Funny how when we reminisce about the nostalgia around our teenage years we mythologise it, create it into something exciting and thrilling but if I had the chance again I wouldn't fancy reliving them.

The first t
Pavarti Tyler
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read Pure when I was working in a used bookstore in Brooklyn. It was around when the book first came out and I was able to get my hands on a Galley Copy. I remember shirking all responsibility at the shop the day I found it in the New Arrival's section. It needed to be shelved, much like the other titles it had been packaged with, but I was too engrossed to bother with working that day.

At the time I was reading a lot of dirty literature and from the title I thought this was going to be a
May 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-reads, 2012-reads
I haven't read Lolita but I suspect this follows the same path. The story flow was smooth and engaging in spite of how sensitive and at times, harsh the situations were, and some parts were even entertaining, such as (view spoiler).
Michelle (Fluttering Butterflies)
I really can't remember how or why I decided that this is a book I should read? Perhaps I read reviews of it recently? I don't remember. On a whim, I decided to choose a random book off my shelves to read and my hand landed on this one. I knew from the outset that it was a book with a very inappropriate relationship between a 14 year old girl and a 27 year old man and that I would struggle with reading about such a thing, but I found that I struggled with a lot more than that as well. This isn't ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I passed up this book ages ago when coming across it in a bookstore. The Lolita-esque storyline appealed to me, but a hesitant feeling held me back. Recently, I found it again in an old, used-bookstore. So far, about 1/3 of the way through, it's reading like the poor man's version of the film "Thirteen". This novel has gotten real love/hate reviews though, which intrigues me perhaps more than the story itself. Will follow through and see which side of the fence I fall on...

Well, I didn't hate it
Kate Moore
Jul 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Never have I read a book whose back cover was such a bad description.
The story is depressing, certainly, but that in and of itself doesn't necessarily make it a bad book. What makes it a bad book is that nothing ever changes. There is no character growth or change. Nothings is really different at the end of the book than at the beginning; except maybe things are a bit worse. There is plenty of interpersonal conflict, but zero conflict between the characters and their goals. In fact none of the
Jun 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A really poor book, but a great insight into the lives of the bourgeois creative classes in Great Britain and their massive contradictions. Coming from a similar rural background in Britain I could relate to some of the things she describes. The people you read about while obviously fictitious are a true reflection of what really goes on behind closed doors in the houses of Britain. My only question to her is has the peodophile that her parents seemed so happy to let date their daughter been que ...more
Morgan Bowden
Feb 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: other-stories
As a 14 year old British girl myself, living in a very much similar type society as the protagonist (whose name we never know...I actually questioned if this was somewhat based on Ray's on life but I doubt it) I can say I found this book somewhat lovely. So pure, an innocent girl, mixing with a so much older man. The things she says, and the things all the characters say, they're so so so familiar to me...such common 'British' language, I guess, which made it all the more relatable for me.

Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can certainly see why people would dislike this book due to how disturbing it is but personally I really enjoyed it (for want of a better phrase, considering how chilling it was). The narrative perfectly depicted the main character's numb and apathetic state of mind. I suppose you could say the writing was very devoid of emotion, yet so much pain still managed to seep through. Despite the anonymity surrounding the narrator, I really connected with her and the way her detatchment from everythin ...more
Katie French
Aug 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I feel compelled to write a review on this harrowing novel and I'm not sure why.

I first picked up the book at a charity shop at the age of seventeen and to be frank it horrified me and I avoided the book for five years.

I re-read it again more recently and still found it harrowing but also very interestingly written. As an English student you would think I would notice the narrative voice didn't have a name however I didn't until I read another review.

It is not a cheery coming-of-age tale and
I read this book when I was about 14. And I think....that maybe I shouldn't have.
It was a great book. Don't get me was just maybe a little more than my 14 year old mind needed.
Or maybe it was just right.
Growing up in the backwoods bible belt of southern Illinois knowing I was gay and being driven to and from church on Sundays wasn't exactly the best time. But this book (while written with some very strange maybe a little too British humor) made me realize other teenagers fuck up too,
Feb 09, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The title is the only alluring aspect of this book. That's what seemed to attract me to it. I thought it might be a bit adventerous and when I opened to the first page I felt my mouth drop. It's full of completely unexpected actions. This might be another reason I continued to read it despite the fact I didn't have much of a connection with it. It's lingo also gets a bit in the way. However, the ideas of the book were good. I believe the author just couldn't pull it off. It was a waste of money. ...more
Kiah Boo
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is definitely not for the weak. It is raw. I judged this book by its cover initially and knew it would be raw. But what I liked most about it was the style of writing. The nameless main character talked about things we only talk about in our heads for milliseconds in time. Her descriptions of feelings of pain and pleasure made me feel like I was experiencing it myself. The book took me took me to a very dark place but also made me feel blessed for anything I had made it through. I thor ...more
Lorena Walker
I hated the protaginist-thought she was mentally off and stupid! There is not much I could say about this book. I could have not finished it and I don't know if I am glad I did. I got nothing special from it, felt nothing from it-just a little weirded out... this is normally my type of book and I would have given it 3 stars if the ending were even good or had some kind of closure, or even a point but it did not!
Apr 07, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was Curious to see if this book was as bad as people said it was. And it definately was. It was okay at some points but most of the time I found it really boring as well as disturbing. I had to really force myself to read it. It wasn't very well written either. Safe to say I just didn't like it.
Ashley Scott
Dec 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't even the context or the material that I found hard to handle - it wasn't too much or too graphic - it was just … badly written. It could have been better executed and taken to another level. It had potential to be interesting, and it sadly was not.
Elinor Walters
Not a review but: why is my copy of this titled A Certain Age, rather than Pure? And the bloke in mine is 27, whereas he seems to be 31 in everyone else's?

Anyway, I hate this book.
Coming of age stories can typically fit into a range of categories across the adolescent spectrum, and A Certain Age definitely falls into the 'seriously fucking gritty' end. It's been a while since I read one that was so harrowing, as author Rebecca Ray somehow manages to cram in almost every horrible teen scenario imaginable. From alcohol and drug abuse, to self-harming and paedophilia, A Certain Age forces its hopeless young protagonist into the extremes of growing up as a female teenager.

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Rebbecca Ray was born in 1979, to dope smoking, goat-rearing, hippy artist parents, in the most rural area of Mid Wales. Home life and school life held great disparities and produced a precocious, ambitious teenager. But a love of words and ideas didn't prove enough to counter a problem with authority or the tendency towards a rocky personal life and Ray left school at 17, to produce her first nov ...more
“I was about thirteen when I started letting boys feel me up.” 5 likes
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