Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama Publication.Date April 24th 2012 Pages: 218 Published By: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers | Website Jackson Pearce |
Purity - Goodreads My review copy: Finished Copy received from HBG Canada in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:
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. (Goodreads)
“Maybe even Mom wouldn't get it - why I doubt. Why I question. Maybe no one can understand what this feels like but me. I touch my neck, the spot where the cross charm hangs on Mom's neck. No one can understand because . . . they really don't know any better than I do. No matter what they think, how sure they are they've got everything figured out, they're as in the dark as I am."
When someone you love dies, it feels like the ground is crumbling away, falling into oblivion. The only thing you can do is grab onto all the things closest to you and hold on tight. I grabbed onto the Promises, to Jonas, to God. The first two were there. The last one I could never find.
I don't want to vow anything that has to do with my lady parts.
You think you're going to be able to just tell some guy, "Hey, man, you're on top of my list of People I Wanna Screw Before a Ball. Would you mind removing your pants?"
5 years, 352 days ago Shelby made a promise to her dying mother. She swore to: 1) always love and listen to her father, 2) love as much as possible, and 3) always live without restraint. After her mother passed away, Shelby's friend, Jonas, came up with a Life List to help her keep Promise Three. At the time we meet Shelby for the first time, her list has more than four hundred items on it, including thins like "jump off the Lake Jocassee trestle like mom did in high school", "put flowers on every grave in a cemetery", and "learn all eighty-eight constellations". So far, Shelby managed to cross out one hundred and three items from the list. In other words, she's been working really hard to keep the promise she gave her mom, and really live her life to the fullest.
Everything seemes to be going great until Shelby's dad decides for them to attend the annual Princess Ball, a father-daughter dance and a Ridgebrook tradition. A dance, that ends with a ceremony during which all the fathers and daughters recite vows. The fathers vow "to be strong, responsible man of integrity and to play a central role in their daughters' lives", and the daughters pledge "to look up to their fathers for guidance and to live whole, pure lives." And that's where it get's tricky. While Shelby doesn't exactly plan to do drugs or drink large amounts of alcohol, she certainly does not want to put on an invisible chastity belt and commit to life without sex, either. At the same time, she can't disobey her dad's wish - that would be breaking Promise One. She can't vow to stay pure until marriage either, because then she'd be breaking Promise Three - to seize the day and live without restraints. The only way out of this situation seems to be through exploiting a loophole. See, Shelby figured that you can't technically vow not to do something you already did in the past. And so with only five weeks before the dance, Shelby decides to lose her virginity before the vow could force her into a permanent celibate. But is that really what her mother wanted for her? Is that really what her father needs? And does anyone else have the right to decide these things for her?
Pearce approaches the subject of purity and teenage sex with surprising lightness and humour, weaving a story that is utterly delightful and entertaining, while being meaningful and thought-provoking at the same time. This book carries a clear message, and quite an important one at that. It tackles issues such as loss of a family member, sexuality, freedom of choices, religion, and honesty. At the same time, though, it neatly avoids coming across as preachy or too opinionated. The loss of her mother affected Shelby immensely, shifting her whole world and causing her to question her faith. That inevitably lead to her many reflections about God, from talking about her feelings (disappointment, anger, bitterness, confusion), to questioning his existence. While I'm not usually very fond of books with clear religious undertones, I can't say that they bothered me in Purity. I suppose it's because this book was so perfectly balanced, not too serious and not too silly, offering a nearly perfect blend of drama, philosophical reflections and humour. Like I said before, preachiness is always my main concern when it comes to books with religious elements. Thankfully, Purity was free of it, and that made me appreciate it even more.
I loved the characters. Jonas, Ruby, and Shelby made a fabulous trio. I loved seeing them interact with each other - they completed one another in every possible way and had a wonderfully positive attitude towards life and other people. Their friendship was strong and sweet. Jonas and Ruby where always there for Shelby, and they knew her better than she knew herself.
Jackson Pearce did a really great job portraying the awkward relationship between Shelby and her father. Shelby's dad really did not know what to do with his teenage daughter. He was utterly clueless. And, being the exact opposite of an easy-going, turn-everything-into-a-joke dad, he struggled a lot with expressing his feelings. His shyness and all-too apparent lack of knowledge about the needs of teenage girls was quite heart-warming and I often laughed at the solutions and ideas he would come up with.
I was very pleased with how much the main protagonist grew as a person. As Shelby was trying desperately to find a way to lose her virginity, she slowly began to realize that what her mother asked of her, and what was supposed to help her live her life to the fullest, was in fact holding her back and dictating her every move. She took the promises she made to her mom and turned them into rules, and she followed those rules religiously. She tried so hard to keep her promises, that she failed to fully understand what her mother really wanted of her, and that is to be happy and enjoy her life. Follow her heart, stay true to her dreams, and just.. live! The moment she realizes that, is the moment when she finally starts living.
Overall, Purity is a clever and funny story, but also one that makes you stop and think, as it raises some great, relevant questions. These are the kind of questions that I myself often wanted to ask as a teen, but was either too scared, too ashamed, or simply didn't know who to direct them at. Inevitably, some people will find this book too provocative, others might find the whole racing to lose one's virginity to be nothing short of scandalous (it is a YA novel we're talking about here after all). I myself found it quite refreshing and intriguing, especially its straight forwardness, honesty, and thoughtfulness. It's a wonderful, eye-opening read, I highly recommend it!
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About the AuthorEvie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and chatting with fellow book-worms.