Thursday, September 3, 2009

Review: Pure by Terra Elan McVoy

Found via: Amelia Bloomer Project

Because sometimes it takes my library ages to get a book to me, I'm going to start making notes in my blog entries about where I found a book so I can remember why the heck I picked it up. Occasionally I'll start reading a book and wonder what possessed me to read it...and absolutely won't be able to remember what made me think it was ever a good idea.

Not that I had that problem with Terra Elan McVoy's Pure, a great look at the purity ring/abstinence pledge phenomenon that's swept America over the last several years.

I have to admit, I went into this book with quite a bit of bias: I happen to find abstinence pledges/purity rings/purity balls (yes, that's really what they're called) a little frightening. Not that abstinence is a bad thing (far from it), but the overtures of male-owned female sexuality and lack of comprehensive education that goes along with these things is more than a little unsettling. I wasn't sure what side of the debate Pure was going to settle on: a celebration of abstinence? Or an evisceration of the movement?

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that McVoy does a wonderful job of exploring a lot of the complexities of the issue. Pure follows Tabitha and her three best friends as they start high school. All of them had taken pledges in middle school at various times to remain abstinent, and all wear abstinence rings as a physical reminder of their pledge. Tabitha and her best friend, Morgan, took the abstinence pledge together at 12; during school they met Cara and Priah, another pair of best friends, and the two pairs quickly became a foursome.

High school, of course, is a time of change, and Tabitha begins to have a lot of questions about her abstinence pledge, first as she begins her own romantic relationship (she wonders whether and when she should tell the boy she's interested in about the pledge she made), and then when Cara breaks her pledge and the rest of the quartet seems to turn against her. Tabitha not only navigates the murky waters of her faith, but friendship as well.

By the end of the book, it definitely feels like McVoy comes out heavily on the side of abstinence, but certainly not fanatical about it and purity rings like some of the characters can be. What seems to be a book strictly about the abstinence pledge phenomenon turns into a rather complicated little book about faith and friendship.

1 comment:

Terra Elan McVoy said...

Thanks for the great review, and for giving PURE a chance!!

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