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Publisher's Summary

From a woman who has been there and back, the first inside look at the devastating effects evangelical Christianity’s purity culture has had on a generation of young women - in a potent combination of journalism, cultural commentary, and memoir. 

In the 1990s, a “purity industry” emerged out of the white evangelical Christian culture. Purity rings, purity pledges, and purity balls came with a dangerous message: girls are potential sexual “stumbling blocks” for boys and men, and any expression of a girl’s sexuality could reflect the corruption of her character. This message traumatized many girls - resulting in anxiety, fear, and experiences that mimicked the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder - and trapped them in a cycle of shame. 

This is the sex education Linda Kay Klein grew up with. 

Fearing being marked a Jezebel, Klein broke up with her high school boyfriend because she thought God told her to, and took pregnancy tests though she was a virgin, terrified that any sexual activity would be punished with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. When the youth pastor of her church was convicted of sexual enticement of a 12-year-old girl, Klein began to question the purity-based sexual ethic. She contacted young women she knew, asking if they were coping with the same shame-induced issues she was. These intimate conversations developed into a 12-year quest that took her across the country and into the lives of women raised in similar religious communities - a journey that facilitated her own healing and led her to churches that are seeking a new way to reconcile sexuality and spirituality. 

Sexual shame is by no means confined to evangelical culture; Pure is a powerful wake-up call about our society’s subjugation of women.

©2018 Linda Kay Klein (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Where has this book been my whole life?

This book is a must read for anyone who was raised in purity culture or is thinking about raising their children and purity culture. I understand myself better after reading this book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Her story, our stories

This book is an essential for anyone who has be affected by the church purity culture, or anyone who is trying to understand a loved one who grew up in that world.

It's personal, thoughtful, and intelligently written. This book is painful, but it is freeing. Thank you, Linda Kay Klein, and thank you to everyone who shared their stories.

It makes sense that this book was narrated by the author, and she does it well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Just listening to this book is a healing experienc

I cruised through this book in a few days. Great performance from the author. It does cover difficult topics including sexual assault, which can be triggering for me, but didn't stop me from finishing the book. I'm so thankful to this author. Highly recommend to anyone who grew up in this culture or has loved ones who experienced it. Thank you ♥️

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So Good!!

This book validated my own experiences in a profound way! Linda Kay Klein connects with those affected by Purity Culture and exposes its seedy underbelly with a gentleness and insight that is deeply respectful to those who’s stories she candidly shares and yet with so much insight and context. A must read for anyone trying to understand female sexuality in the aftermath of America’s purity revolution of the 80’s and 90’s.

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Incredible Book for Evangelical and Ex-Evangelical Women, and Those Who Love Them

I loved this book from start to finish, and I fully intend on reading it again. Linda’s personal story and the stories of those she interviewed made me laugh, cry, ugly cry, and feel whole. I see how the purity culture I grew up in has caused me to feel so much shame, shame in ways I never even recognized until seeing parts of my own story in this book. Linda wrote a perfect story and I am so thankful to her for the 10 years she invested into this book.

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Challenge

I listened to this book on request from my husband who grew up in this purity culture. The stories helped give words and feelings to so much of what he experienced and gave us a platform to consider how we will raise our 4 kids both in God and outside of the purity culture. It was well worth my time.

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just not that good

sorry, but I couldn't understand why this was reviewed by NPR. It sounded like it would be really interesting in the review, but it just wasn't. I already knew the most interesting parts of the book from the review, and the rest was just full and repetitive.

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I expected a different ending I suppose

Plenty of relatable stories but I expected more insight into how one would overcome the sexual shaming and stunted sexual growth. I took the "how I broke free" part all wrong I suppose. I feel like many of us who grew up in this have already come to terms with the religious piece of this (by giving it up usually) but the big key is how to heal our self esteem and sexual lives. This book gave no help in this area.

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there aren't enough stars to give this book.

As a Gay man who was raised in the purity era of evangelical Christianity many of these stories struck very close to home. ther were several times I had to stop listening and cry. but this story needs to be told. needs to be heard. not just by Christian's but everyone. if you were raised in the purity era and you have daughters now please listen to this with an open mind. and heart.

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best and most moving book

this book was and is amazing. I have never before identified so closely with a book and a collection of stories. Linda beautifully weaved together stories that many people experience but within the confines and darkness of their own experience. if this book is not for you, read it anyway and you will get a glimpse into a very interesting, well intended and really really sad and scary piece of Christian culture

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  • Arami Heartilly
  • 11-28-18

Beautiful, poiniant and stories that need to be heard

Despite not growing up within any of these communities, my upbringing with a Catholic Church and a family environment that was, at times, strict, a lot of this resonated with me. From Control techniques to the lack of understanding and inclusivity can be found in many many places and that is something that can stay with you. I hope those involved in this project have found peace. They’ve certainly helped to give it to others.
Well narrated and filled with peoples stories as well as the authors I would highly recommend this.