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BOOK REVIEW: Purity

When a crime buried for decades is unearthed, brilliant observations and powerful characters come to the surface.
Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Deep in debt and living in a squat, young Pip Tyler suspects, and desperately hopes, there is more to her story. She grew up in a remote cabin with a manipulative recluse for a mother and no idea about her father. A seemingly chance meeting with a beautiful German woman leads her to a charismatic activist dedicated to exposing the secrets of government and big business. That takes her to the long-hidden secrets in her own family, to East Germany and a crime buried for decades.

Purity by Jonathan Franzen is a meaty book, marbled with brilliant observations about power, money, fame, the pervasive internet, and family. It’s bursting with huge characters and gritty with their dirty secrets. Yet it’s saved from grimness by smart, vulnerable and funny Pip, who navigates the intricate plot with an earthy dignity.

HarperCollins, $37.

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