Sarah's Reviews > Pure

Pure by Terra Elan McVoy
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's review
Jul 28, 2011

bookshelves: ya, spiritual, contemporary, novel

An interesting YA novel about teenage purity cliques/cults. A few weeks ago I read "Quiverfull" by Kathryn Joyce, a non fiction book about how the impulses fictionalized in this book play out for some of the most hard core believers in this stuff. Also, how the creepy paternalism inherent in this movement assumes that the man makes the decisions for the woman - a dynamic that plays out here in fiction.

It becomes clear in this book that for Tabitha and her friends, these rings are just as much about having their choices made for them as they are about Jesus. Morgan was an interesting character, in fact, I went through almost the whole thing assuming she was a repressed lesbian because she was so apathetic to guys and threatened by Tabitha finding one. I was surprised that it was not the case. Even by the end, its still not clear why she is so creepy crazy nuts for purity... perhaps fodder for a sequel. Overall, I thought Cara was the best character - the most grounded, sane, and real. The message of the book, standing up for what you believe in, was very strong and well written.

My only real complaint is that these teens seem to exist in an alternate reality where their churches are never affiliated with the negative side of these life choices. Churches that push purity are usually really anti-gay, and statistically, teens who have those purity rings are the least likely to use condoms or other forms of birth control. The teen pregnancy rate among teens who take virginity pledges is high. Teen girls who attend "Ring Thing" presentations are often told that they are worthless, like used toothbrushes or gum if they"give it up". They are told that their boyfriends will break up with them if they are too slutty. They are shown unrealistic pictures of STIs to scare them and misinform them. They are told that condoms have holes. These teens never seem to be exposed to this kind of thing, which I find kinda unrealistic. It's like McVoy has written this alternate universe where its just about the good stuff and not the bad. But that is pretty par for the course in Christian fiction, and this book is leaps and bounds better then Melody Carlson or other Christian authors whose works are extremely didactic.
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