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A Certain Age Paperback – 5 Nov 1998

3.3 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (5 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140275592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140275599
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Teenager Rebbecca Ray's debut novel paints a deeply disturbing portrait of the life of an adolescent girl growing up in small-town England in the dying breaths of the 20th century. The humiliations of her first day at secondary school soon give way to grudging acceptance as Ray's unnamed heroine learns how to "fit in". Letting boys touch her and hanging out with the misfits and trouble-makers makes daily life bearable. Which is just as well as home life is far from bearable. With a brow-beaten, ineffectual mother, whose own feelings of self-worth have long since been ground to a pulp by a bullying, overbearing husband, it comes as no surprise when their 14-year-old daughter starts dating a man old enough to be her father. Sex, drugs, paedophilia and masochism are all shrugged off by our 14-year-old leading lady whose feelings of self-loathing grow deeper, page by gripping page, until they reach a disturbing, inevitable conclusion. Written in the first person, Ray's narrative is stark and shocking. She describes a life, a family, a society too darkly accurate to be pure fiction. As a novelist, Rebbecca Ray has found a suitable channel for her emotions. Today's teenagers, meanwhile, need help. --Carey Green

From the Author

I want to say thanks.
I've just seen the reader's reviews and it means a lot to me to see that people are responding to the book. I wrote it hoping that others would recognise and be moved by the emotions described inside it. I'm so glad that people have. Thankyou for a) spending the money in the first place. I know it's a lot. b)caring about what is written inside. Reading these reviews has been a very big deal for me.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 27 Oct. 2003
Format: 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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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 5 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback
A Certain Age is the harrowing and at points vulgar story of a young girl who makes all the wrong decisions. Falling for the wrong people and rebelling against her hippie parents she is a child living as an adult.Read more...

I've had this book on my to be read list for years, it was a suggested title because I had read Lolita. I can see the idea that this is a similar book, a young girl swept up into a romance with a truly unsuitable older man. The unnamed girl in this book is the teenage girl that exists in so many fictional works that I've yet to ever meet. She is sexually open and uses it as a weapon to get her immature and violent boyfriend to like her.

The vision of sex in this book by the main character is just plain sad. She never really enjoys the sexual acts she has and endures being humiliated by her partners. There is no positive narrative to having sex or being close to someone, it is purely used in her world to shut people up and get people to like her. I know not all books are 'feel good' idealistic visions of the world but there is not even a glimmer of hope or a wish for anything better than she has.

Her parents are one of the most bizarre aspects to the book. They are both ex-hippies and are simultaneously overbearing yet disconnected from their children. They fight at every occasion and most of the dialogue in the book are these bickering adults. After reading a few fights you get bored with the back and forth, just wishing the story would skip over these parts and get back to some sort of plot.

The romance is this book can barely be called romance. The girl very quickly falls for a man who works in a store she buys her 14th birthday present from.
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