Read this book. It’s called PURE. My agent, Holly, recently recommended it on her blog [no longer available]. And I went and purchased it immediately. Holly recommended it to anyone who “cares about teens or faith or both,” and I concur.
Now, frankly, the book exhausted me in some ways. The feeling that I had literally been re-placed smack dab in the middle of spring semester, sophomore year had me clawing the walls sometimes in a desperate attempt to re-escape forever the locker combinations, girlfriend squabbles, p.e. classes, and general teenage angst of those extremely melodramatic years. Of course I did devour the book in less than ONE day, so I probably just overfed. I do better with books when I spread them out a bit. But I could not put this one down.
As a disclaimer, I am devouring anything right now that will help me figure out myself as a writer, how I want to write from and include my Christian worldview, how I don’t want to do it. Etceter-ah. So that’s my filter – one you may not have – and you should keep it in mind considering my recommendation.
PURE is about five friends, deeply devoted to each other – a friendship partially symbolized by the purity rings they wear. The book takes off when one friend breaks the vow that the ring represents. She does it deliberately, thoughtfully – she actually changes her mind about the vow. The story is then how that decision affects the group and each girl individually, including the one who broke the vow.
In one highly poignant moment, two of the ring-wearers discuss the one who broke the vow and the fact that her best friend let her go because of it. “I’d do the same to you,” one of the girls says to her own best friend. “If you were capable of breaking the vow, I’d dump you too.” (A paraphrase). I lost it around this page. It just reached in, took my heart out of my chest, and just stared at it, pumping, in that hurky jerky way that it pumps when I am deeply empathizing with a shocking, terrible moment.
I wanted to scream, of course she’s capable of it. Because we all are. We’re capable of anything and everything. Every one of us. And certainly, definitely, any girl who likes boys is capable of being wooed all the way to “impurity” with one. Totally and completely capable. And that paragraph summed up for me what is wrong with so many Christian friendships. We don’t just expect each other to behave. We expect each other to not even be capable of not behaving.
This book explores the meanness of Christianity, and yet it is one big cheerleader for forgiveness and resolution. It is a beautiful look at that valley of decision when teenagers decide for themselves what they believe and by what worldview they intend to live. There are different kinds of Christians in it, and none of them are ever presented as the only true kind. The book’s narrator explores her own beliefs in a wholly realistic, thoughtful way until we completely understand her own journey.
To be honest, as a teen, I wouldn’t have understood the book. I would have judged a group of girls who purchased purity rings but still dated. Everyone knows, if you’re saving yourself for marriage, you’re supposed to save your whole self – emotions, love letters, and body…including your lips. No guy should get at even those until he’s The One.
I still think there’s something to be said for that. It’s a lot easier to avoid sex as a teenager if you’re not allowed to have a boyfriend at all. And a purity vow is hardly necessary when you can’t be alone with a boy in the first place. And that’s one reason the narrator’s story was so amazing to me. She had to work through her decision in a wholly personal way under very real pressure (and very adorable pressure too, because oh how I love the boy in this book).
PURE definitely explores the vow of purity, how we ultimately make it to God and to ourselves. But it also explores the vows we make to each other and the lines we draw that give us permission to break them.