Cute and Sweet


A Review for Pure by Terra Elan McAvoy.

Tabitha and her four best friends all wear purity rings as a symbol of their pledge to stay pure for their future husband and for marriage. Only now that they're 15, the full meaning of their promise means more than it did when they took the oath back when they were 12. When Tabitha finds out her friend Cara has broken her promise, the friendship between the five girls begins to fall apart. All the girls turn on Cara, except for Tabitha, who despite the fact that she feels Cara has done something wrong, cannot believe turning her back on her is right. And in the mean time, there's a boy that she's falling for as well.

I was very surprised by how much I actually enjoyed reading this book. First, the way it came into my hands turned out to be rather awkward. An agent in our office was talking about it with a table of interns. None had read the book, but the agent was expressing her interest to read it and see how it was done. This spawned a discussion about purity rings in general:
Intern #1: Purity rings? Those things still exist?
Agent: I guess they do. I mean didn't the Jonas Brothers or someone say they were wearing them?
Intern #1: That can't really be for real though. It's probably some publicity thing. I mean, come on, maybe in some backwards town, but can you imagine anyone in New York City wearing a purity ring?
Intern #2: (quietly) I actually have a purity ring. I don't wear it, but -
Intern #3: (excited) Oh my God! I have one too!
This announcement was followed a few girly shrieks and smiles. And then a lot of tense awkward silence.
Agent: Okay, well if anyone is interested in reading it, I won't be able to get to it for a while...

And so after some of the interns read it, it was passed to me, who though not present for the conversation, heard a lot about it, multiple times.

I also wasn't sure how I would deal with the religious aspect of the book, as someone who isn't all that religious. I like to think myself spiritual, but as a Quaker, religion itself and a lot of religious rules were never impressed upon me. I do find the movie Saved! hysterical, but I was pretty sure this wasn't in the same vein.

But in some aspects, I felt that it kind of was. And Terra Elan McAvoy in her debut novel, tackled such a controversial issue with real aplomb.

Though not outright satirical, there are moments when McAvoy is making fun not only of Morgan and the way she sobs when losing her ring as if she's suddenly lost her virginity itself or her parents and their readiness to rush out and buy a new outlandish ring and perform a new ceremony for Morgan, but also at Tabitha's parents who though strict about her telephone usage don't have the same spiritual beliefs as their daughter. And through her narration, Tabitha ultimately asks herself the hard questions about what it means to truly be a Christian, what it means to stand by your convictions, and in that sense what's important.

As I character, I liked Tabitha. I found her to be open-minded, intelligent, and endearing. Her voice was strong, despite her moments of insecurity, and consistant. I also really liked that Tabitha has chosen religion and Christianity for herself rather than followed her parents blindly into her beliefs. She goes to church without her parents, something which I believe shows a lot of strength for a teenager. Of the other characters, I liked Cara as well, who I found to be realistic. Morgan irritated me and I found myself not able to really understand why Tabitha liked her so much. And Tabitha's boyfriend, Jake, though sweet and endearing, didn't strike all that true for me. He's a teenage boy, and for a cute teenage boy, a good athlete and someone popular at his own high school (or so it seems), he's a little too unrealistic for me. Call me jaded, but I certainly didn't know any teenage boys that nice or accepting.

That said, the writing was nothing to jump for joy over. There were a few points where I found there were too many things going on, too many characters, and as a result, events were a little confusing or rushed. While engaged, I didn't find myself completely sucked in, either.

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