Author: Jackson Pearce
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Little, Brown
Hardcover, 218 pages
Date Published: April 24, 2012
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.
Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.
Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.
Shelby is looking to lose her v-card, not because she’s ready or she necessarily wants to, but because she made these Promises to her mom on her deathbed, and one of those Promises was to listen and obey her dad. Somehow she interprets this by skirting his orders and her plan to get around a purity vow at the Princess Ball is to have sex before the ball, making said vow null and void. It sounds kind of crazy (and it is), but I get it, I really do.
Pearce has this way of making Shelby’s thinking process make perfect sense. A plan to pop the cherry is insane and Shelby does struggle with it. She struggles with the loss of her mother, of the disconnect with her father, and with her anger towards God. She’s lost and beyond confused. The Promises and the Life List (like a bucket list, but a little more lengthy and daring) give her focus, give her purpose beyond herself. She lives without restraint, jumping off of bridges and such, because she thinks that’s what her mother wanted her to do. To be there for her father, to love, and to live. The only problem is that Shelby’s mother is gone and she has no idea just how much and how far she should be going to keep the Promises.
Shelby’s two besties, Ruby and Jonas, bring some fantastic humor to the story as well. The writing is not only funny, but clever. These teens aren’t stupid and it shows. Jonas and Ruby don’t 100% agree with what she’s doing, but they support her and, in turn, drudge up some hilarious one-liners. Shelby’s constant struggle with religion also has its funny moments. But the honest way Shelby approaches it – with skepticism, but a desire to believe in something – gives the story a great deal of heart
Purity is much more than a fluff story about a girl desperate to lose her virginity; it is about loss, about life, and about love. Jackson Pearce has shown that she can easily move outside of fantasy and approach contemporary YA with just as much skill as seasoned veterans. Purity is reminiscent of Sarah Ockler, in that it’s wondrously funny, but heart-rending at the same time. I’m eager to see Pearce dish out more and more contemporary in the future.
Opening line: When I said it, I didn’t mean it. ~ pg. 1
Favorite lines/passages: People expect you to miss the big things after someone you love dies. They expect you to think about graduating, falling in love, getting married without your mother there. And I do think about those things. But the things I really miss are smaller, fractions of my life intersected with hers, the moments I didn’t bother remembering because they seemed too unimportant – going to the grocery store, coming down the stairs in the morning, watching television, folding laundry. Things that happened a thousand times that will never happen again. ~ pgs. 41-42
Now less serious, more hardy har har“Oh, and I put some extra makeup in that bag – you need to wear more blush and some sparkly powder. Sparkly powder was made for balls, even creepy virgin ones.” ~ pg. 201
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.
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