Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 24th 2012
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.
(Summary from Goodreads)
I think saying that I'm a huge Jackson Pearce fan may be the biggest understatement of the year. I loved her Fairytale Retelling books (my review of Sisters Red is HERE) and I'm hoping to read As You Wish soon (hint: It's about genies.) But to be honest, I wasn't completely sold with Purity. Here's why:
Shelby as a real life person
Honestly? If Shelby were a real person, I would most likely have hunted her down and smacked her upside the head. I really didn't like most of the choices she made, the way she treated her virginity as something so easily disposed of. They even referred to it as just "getting laid" and she was pretty much cool with doing it whoever as long as they weren't carrying a disease or anything. I kind of didn't really understand what the urgency of losing her virginity was, especially since when did happen, it didn't really seem that exciting or "fun". Which leads me to wonder, did she want to lose it because she felt like she needed to find a loophole in her Promises or to experience what it feels like? I still don't know. I also didn't really like the way she treated other people, she was very judgemental towards others and there were some parts of the book where I really did feel like she was kind of a hypocrite.
While I didn't really like Shelby as a character, or a person for the matter, there were times when she did made me laugh and possibly cry a bit. I understand that there are times when we do get angry at God whenever really unfortunate and unfair things happen to us, so I got what she was going through. I felt really bad for Shelby when she lost her mother, it was very explicit in the book on how hard it was for her to live without her mother.
Friends are important
I really liked Shelby's friends. I appreciated Ruby's cookiness and Jonas' level-headedness. I think that Jonas may be my favorite character in the book. Even though everyone did have flaws in the books, I felt like he was the most reasonable one out of everyone. I think the characters should've really listened to him more... kind of. Ruby and Jonas were a big part of the foundation of the novel because they were the ones who there for Shelby and even though there were conflicts, I felt that the book wouldn't be complete without these two.
Conflicts, Resolutions and things I learned
After reading this book, I really did see the values that our ingrained in us and just how important our parents really are. That even if you had either just a mother or a father, it'd never be enough without that counterpart. I really learned to appreciate my parents even more and be more thankful for them.
I felt that the issues about sex and religion in this book was properly touched upon and was really straight to the point and very real. I know that people do go through these things in real life and I feel like it was very commendable of Jackson Pearce to write about it. I just feel like she could've been a bit less abrasive about it. Though I will admit that Shelby was a good character/ actor for these issues because the things she's going are very relatable and will appeal to the people who have been through this or are going through this.
I actually thought that this book would be a happy and light read but I was wrong. Jackson Pearce packages all these controversial issues into a poignant and at times, funny book that will really help you understand what people like Shelby are going through. We do see a growth, albeit a small one, in Shelby and I do feel that it was an improvement to who she was at the start of the book. I still think that people should read this book and even though I didn't completely love it, I still learned a lot of from it and that's what I feel is important. Contemporary fans will really enjoy this book and for those who are still new to the genre, you should try this one out.