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November 18, 2015



By: Jonathan Franzen

Reading Purity is a very personal, time-consuming investment; however, the payoff is extraordinary.  Good (possibly great), well-crafted novels just don’t come along that often.  My biggest problem with finishing it is wondering what I will read next that won’t pale in comparison.  The novel isn’t perfect and is alternately dark, touching, heartbreaking, humorous and absurd; but above all, it touches the nerve of what it is to be human in the modern world.

The novel starts out in Oakland with a young woman, Purity “Pip” Tyler, who is drowning in student loan debt, living in a bizarre situation in Oakland, and working as an “outreach associate” for Renewable Solutions, an energy cooperative.  She is dealing with her unstable mother whose world revolves around her and wants to find out the identity of her father so she can get him to pay off her debts.  The novel goes on to explore topics and subjects of internet leaks and hackers, online identities, socialism, communism and the reunification of Germany, sexual identity and abuse, parent and child relationships, and a myriad of other topics.  The novel mostly takes place in California, East Germany, South America and Denver.

It is a complex and convoluted novel and I thought about giving up on it until I got about 200 pages into the novel.  Then things started to come together in interesting ways and I was hooked.  After building up for almost 600 pages, the ending left me a little disappointed.  Perhaps, I was just sad to reach the end.  If you have the time and inclination, I encourage you to give Purity a chance.  I think it is worth it.

Review By: Heidi Herald