Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 14
- Grade: 7 to 9
- Reading age: 13 to 18
With the potential for cloning already a reality, we all have to face some major ethical questions. Who has a right to determine a person's genetic makeup? And how will we treat our genetic underclass? In Pure, fifteen-year-old Lenni is a gifted healer to some, and to others only a skidge -- an illegal genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. Set in the future where genetic engineering of humans is forbidden, Lenni must escape from Dawn, a community controlled by the Genetic Purity Council, or Pure.
About the author
Karen Krossing grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, with a family who loved to read. What could she do but read, too? Karen began to create stories when she was eight, and she continued this habit by writing poetry in high school. By then she was hooked on books, so she studied English at university then became a book editor and a technical writer. After Karen had kids, she began writing fiction for children and teens.
Karen uses writing to understand the world around her. In Take The Stairs, which was nominated for the Ontario Library Association White Pine Award, she writes about turning adversity into opportunity through the troubled lives of inner-city teens. In Pure, her latest novel, she explores sticky ethical questions about genetic engineering that today's teens will have to face in their lifetimes.
Karen is a writing instructor at Centennial College and she teaches an after-school writing program for kids and teens through Pegasus Studios in Toronto. She led workshops at the 2003 Canadian Children's Book Camp in Toronto and was on tour with TD Canadian Children's Book Week in 2005. Karen regularly conducts writing workshops and book talks at Canadian schools.
For a detailed interview with Karen, go to http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/profiles/krossing.html. For contact information, please visit http://www.canscaip.org/bios/krossingk.html.
PureIn her latest novel, White Pine nominated author Karen Krossing explores the difficult ethical questions surrounding genetic engineering. Set in a future age where genetic engineering is forbidden, Lenni, a 15-year-old gifted healer discovers that she is the product of a genetic experiment, and her whole life is turned upside down as a result.
Pure is a fascinating read, and could be taken as a metaphor for the Holocaust. The community of Dawn, where Lenni resides, is controlled by the Genetic council, and monitored by the “Pure Police” who are eerily similar to the Nazis. Dawn’s aim is to create a community of strictly pure people, who are without any genetic enhancement or change. Those who are discovered to be genetically impure are called “Skidges” who are rounded up by the pure police for, at minimum, torturous questioning and often taken to prison work camps outside the border, much like Jews in the concentration camps.
Metaphors aside, Krossing successfully engages the reader and raises several ethical questions that provide further food for thought. What are the social consequences for being different, and how are those who are different than us treated by society? What if you discovered that everything you believed you were is false, and how does learning the truth change your life?
Pure is a welcome addition to the speculative fiction genre, and is a fascinating and thought-provoking novel that will not easily be forgotten.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2006. Vol.29 No. 1.