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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Youth Wasted On The Young?
Disturbing and ultra-realistic, this book will remind many adults of their own adolescent yearnings to fit in and be accepted by their peers, even to the point of doing things that they really don't want to do.

The fourteen-year-old un-named narrator (who I shall call X throughout this review) is the focus point throughout. What she sees, what she thinks and...
Published on 5 Sep 2009 by Eileen Shaw

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just left me feeling sad....
I imagine that a lot of people will find the sexual content of 'A Certain Age' quite shocking. This is the story of a fourteen year old, who is initially involved with a boy her own age, and then becomes involved with a twenty-seven year old. We never know her name, and I think this is probably one of the reasons I came away feeling so downbeat....this is just anaother...
Published on 20 April 2008 by Sarah Durston


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Youth Wasted On The Young?, 5 Sep 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
Disturbing and ultra-realistic, this book will remind many adults of their own adolescent yearnings to fit in and be accepted by their peers, even to the point of doing things that they really don't want to do.

The fourteen-year-old un-named narrator (who I shall call X throughout this review) is the focus point throughout. What she sees, what she thinks and how she behaves is the sole viewpoint throughout the book. There is graphic sexual content and Rebecca Ray calls it as she finds it. Written when Ray was eighteen, the immediacy, intensity and powerless frustration of adolescence is brilliantly depicted. X experiments with sex, finds she hates it, but sex is the only currency by which she can achieve a measure of acknowledgement, and a certain skewed status. This book is equally uncompromising and unflinchingly observant of family dysfunction. X's parents are floundering in an unhappy, often abusive marriage, her only friend is the clingy Dawn, who makes periodic phone calls to X's father to tell him what is going on, but Dawn is incapable of understanding much beyond her own feelings of jealousy and need.

When X becomes involved with Oliver, a much older man (he is 31), there are episodes of physical abuse, welcomed by X, who later subjects herself to self-mutilation, which is described in graphic detail. Self-harming gives X a measure of relief from the dreadful, endless bickering of her home life and the emptiness of her sexual adventures. The book ends in a Christmas argument when Oliver attacks X's father.

As I read this book I felt a number of temptations. To stop reading it was only the most frequent, but at the same time I found myself recognising some of the intensely painful despair of adolescence. One is never going to be beautiful, one is never going to be special, or clever or even very likeable. Everything around one is fake, dross, rubbish. Everything one really wants is unattainable. These sensations may not be uniformly lasting or strong for most people, and obviously, not everyone ends up in the blind-alley of self-harm, but this book does depict the alienation and often self-punishing detachment (powerlessness degenerating into self-hatred?) from what is going on in their own lives that many adolescents experience. X is unlucky in her family, who are incapable of helping her much, though her tired mother does try. Almost everyone in this book is locked into their own solipsistic nightmare.

In terms of readability, this book is often quite pedestrian, especially towards the end, but this also reflects the banality of thinking that many adolescents embrace - the "Am I bovvered" generation, perhaps? It is inch-perfect in its depiction of the powerful contradictions of this "certain age", but the truism that youth is wasted on the young was never so aptly demonstrated as in this book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 27 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
This book is brilliant. The writing style, the conversation, the shifts of emotion brilliantly paced and crafted. A book where the nearly final paragraphs are barely taken in whilst galloping to the finish to enjoy the festivities of Christmas with the family! Characters excellently depicted, deep and grittily real (shame about Michael who never seems to be anything but a smaller brother with no impact...) The topics covered self-harm, sex in very realistic teen-girl descriptors, relationships, school and the emotionality of teenage girls magnificently worded and the masterful drawing out of family relationships, especially girls and their "letting-go" dads. A gem of a book I accidently bought for want of something better, the best I have read all year - hope all my future accidents are as lucky!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Social dysfunction from the persepctive of a 14 year old, 14 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
I must agree with the previous reviewer. This is an excellent book which tackles difficult issues without fudging the issues. The descriptions of the heroine's loathing of the sexual adventures that she has are disturbing and evoke our pity. Despite the sensitive subject, there is a lot to laugh about in this book. The world, as seen through the eyes of a 14 year old girl, is often an amusing place. Indeed, much of the humour is directed at the heroine herself - it is her reactions to things which we as adults perhaps take for granted that make us smile. The social situations are well handled too - dialogue between mother, father and daughter, dysfunctional though it is, reads as an extremely credible and sincere view of the family unit.
I would recommend this book if you are able to handle the concepts of drug use, underage sex and self-mutilation - you don't have to agree or even sympathise with the protagonists opinions, but you will become drawn into the vivid social web.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting read, although maybe not for everyone..., 10 Mar 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
One of the best debut novels I've read in a long while, it recalls in a way the depression of Plath's "The Bell Jar" (IMHO) and was a book that I found myself all too readily identifying with during a period of abject depression in my life.
Some people may find it difficult to read, but if you can stomach the language and the subject matter (and can ignore the odd cover photo) then you'll find a well written and intriguing novel that leaves you wanting more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searing, unsensational, gripping., 1 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
Much has been talked about this book but I get the feeling that its author has achieved just what she intended: a searing, unsensationalised account of one girl's childhood, warts, sex and all. I'm impressed that she chose not to go the glamorous, night-clubbing and loads-of-fun route: this is a book about what happens when a girl realises her parents are vulnerable and transfers her affections for her father onto a man, who initially attractive and charming, turns out to be a weasel. But then even he turns into a three-dimensional, credible character and that's more impressive than anything. This author is going to go right to the top if A CERTAIN Age is is merely the first flowering of her talents. And, despite the fact that I'm a good many years older than her, I found the novel reminded me of a lot that doesn'tr change across the generations. Yes, it is difficult and painful at times but then who said fiction should simply entertain?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True to teenage life!, 27 Nov 2011
By 
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
I started reading and wasn't overly impressed.
The narrative style reminded me of something I would have read when I was about 12, but as the story continued and it grew darker, I was enticed. It reads to true to many young girls' lives & it's so relatable covering sex, relationships and self harm. I got to the end and din't want to stop reading, Kind of wish there was a second.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just left me feeling sad...., 20 April 2008
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
I imagine that a lot of people will find the sexual content of 'A Certain Age' quite shocking. This is the story of a fourteen year old, who is initially involved with a boy her own age, and then becomes involved with a twenty-seven year old. We never know her name, and I think this is probably one of the reasons I came away feeling so downbeat....this is just anaother anonymous teenage girl, lacking any self-worth and willing to let boys and men, as well as friends, do anything they want to her. However, I found the realtionship with her father even more creepy than the realtionships she has with the paedophile. There seems to be a sexual tension between the daughter and the father that left me very uncomfortable.

I think this novel is well written, especially as it was written by a teenager. It will shock, but ultimately it's just bleak.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The events which you may experience but wouldn't dare admit, 8 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
The book was a disturbingly accurate picture of how many people crave to be accepted in a society. The events, some of which haunting, are often experienced by teenagers (myself included) but we wouldn't dare tell even our best friends. Perhaps this is why I don't give you my name!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars slightly disturbing, but very good, 4 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
Surely there are good things in a teenagers life. This book left me feeling gutted for every teenager that pasted me in the street, however alot l could relate to and l admire Rebecca Ray for admiting what we all have experianced as a teenager. I could not put this book down.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, like reading bits of my diary from school, 20 Jan 2006
This review is from: A Certain Age (Paperback)
I was given this book last week and picked it up to read last night…..then did not get to bed until nearly 2am as could not put it down!
I thought this book was very realistic. The whole point of it, I thought, was just to see things that happened to the girl through her own eyes, at her age and understanding of things. It reminded me in a lot of ways of when I was at school. Not liking to use the toilet cos people would hear you, trying to fit it and just going along with things because although you know it might be wrong you think you can handle it because you do feel grown up. And how the boys acted, and how sex was not any fun and you just thought it was supposed to be like that. And I knew many people who “self harmed” although it was something started like the girl in the book, carving words or names into your arms. And also knew many girls from school who went out with older men who were paedophiles but you don’t see it at that age, it is not til you get into your 20’s you suddenly realize you might have tried to grow up to quick.
The book did bring across how crap you feel at that age, you don’t belong and nothing you do seems right or pleases anybody else.
I would recommend this book, spesh to people who think school and teenage life is like Dawsons Creek. Its not, its much darker than that.
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A Certain Age
A Certain Age by Rebbecca Ray (Paperback - 5 Nov 1998)
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