Purity – Jackson Pearce

18 Jul

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Released: April 24, 2012
Genre: YA contemp
Review copy from publisher

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.

From Little, Brown and Company website

I don’t know why, but when I first read the blurb, I was expecting a fairly light, funny book. You know lots of jokes, tongue in cheek dialogue.  Yeah, not so much. What I got instead was a riveting story of dealing with loss, impossible promises, relationships in transition and growing into your own skin. In short, what I got was an amazing read.

I think my favorite part of Shelby’s story was her relationship with her father. While my teen years are far behind me, I remember the struggle between wanting to please my dad and the desire to be my own person. These two didn’t always mesh, and they definitely don’t for Shelby. I think that most readers will be able to sympathize with Shelby and her dad as they try to figure out their relationship as she grows up.

And then there’s Shelby’s relationship with her mother. Despite the fact that her mother has passed away, she’s a strong presence throughout the book.  After all, it’s Shelby’s promises to her that have guided Shelby’s life since her mother died.

Shelby’s attempts to lose her virginity are awkward and heartbreaking.  While the situation could have easily spiraled into the ridiculous, Pearce’s writing keeps things real. She also writes Shelby’s story in a way that it doesn’t enter over-dramatic or whiny territory.

I just loved the tone of this book and how it evoked so many feelings in me when I was reading it. I always find it hard to explain how and why a book made me feel a certain way. But I finished Purity, and felt content. And weepy. Always a good sign when I finished a book.

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