A Certain Age – Rebecca Ray

‘I lost my virginity to a twenty-seven year-old man and on a school night, too’

  • Sex with an Older Man.
  • Parents who don’t understand
  • Politics in the playground
  • Blow jobs behind the bike-sheds
  • Skinning up in the schoolyard

It’s what happens when you reach a Certain Age. Just the hormones kicking in.

We’ve all been there . . . haven’t we?

A CERTAIN AGE – the reality behind the problem pages. It’s what Just 17 never told you about growing up.

I wanted to read this to see how it fared in relation to my teenage years in any way, it didn’t really, I didn’t do the ‘Sex with an Older Man’ scenario although I admit teenage boys were not up to scratch at all. I wasn’t a self harmer and my realtionship with my parents wasn’t as bad.

Funny how when we reminisce about the nostalgia around our teenage years we mythologise it, create it into something exciting and thrilling but if I had the chance again I wouldn’t fancy reliving them.

The first thing I noticed about ‘A Certain Age’ is we do not know the narrators name, she is nameless just the narratot telling the readers her story through the eyes of a 14 year old girl. This is a book that does not have chapters. It is 404 pages, without a break, no, not a chapter in sight…at which point do you stop reading? there is no natural break. I was determined to read it in a couple of days. I actually picked this up from a local charity shop and began reading it on the journey home.

I must say the writing was very gritty, the language hardcore but suitable and realistic and the whole book was submerged with a darker edge. The main character seems to idolise her father, do anything she can to be accepted, doesn’t seem to notice it isn’t ok the sleep with a 27 year old at 14 allowing him to treat her very badly and enjoys the pain of self harming. Now then, this wasn’t my teenage years but I have no doubt this relates to some and after reading a few very different reviews teenage girls appreciate the brutal honesty of how the story has been told and how realistic it is.

There is something uneasy about her father, he is one odd character, power hungry, alcoholic with a strange obsession with the main characters very strange friend Dawn. To be fair most of the characters throughout the novel are broken, odd or strange. The family is really dysfunctional but yet for the main character living within the dysfunction is unable to see her family as Oliver does, but then again Oliver is by no stretch of the imagination like most other men either.

I don’t relate to the main character or her behaviour, I don’t understand a lot of what she does or why she does it and reading the pages made me feel she was very sad on the inside. She is vulnerable and insecure not even knowing what she wants herself. Oliver is not the right boyfriend for her and I must say very much needs a super hard slap for the way he treats her.

This novel tackles difficult subjects and talks about them honestly and openly, the scenarios are real and true to event pushing at boundaries and situations many may find uncomfortable.

Albeit an interesting read I am unsure if I would recommend this to my age group but I feel it could be very insightful to most teenage girls and I feel if I would have read this in those years it would have taught me a lot.

My favourite line in the whole book is

“I could only keep on running and hope that things wouldn’t get up. I could only go forward, I could only open the door I guess”

That sentence sums up most of the life of a teenager and resembled the whole of the novel for me. Loved it for its accuracies.  


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