A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.
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.
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.
Let me just say, that the blurb above does not even begin to do justice to this book. While it covers the basics, this book presented Shelby's dilemma in a funny, approachable way. This was not a "don't have sex until you get married because you're not supposed to" book, it was really about a young woman struggling to figure out what exactly she promised to her dying mother & how she can move forward with her life.
I really enjoyed Shelby's misadventures trying to live up to her mother's three promises. My favorite one was living without restraint. Our heroine chose to interpret that as "do crazy stuff that you otherwise wouldn't do." She even made a "life list" with her two best friends in order to ensure that she lived up to that promise. The hardest promise to deal with was listening to her father. I think Shelby took this one way too seriously because she treated her father's word like law to the point that she would find loopholes in order not to have actually disobeyed his word. Nifty trick, but I think it did more damage to her relationship that she saw at the beginning.
Jackson Pearce's writing is spot on. I was worried that I only liked her fairy tale retellings because of the subject matter, so I was a little hesitant to pick up this book. I assure you that she handles the subject with appropriate amounts of maturity & goofiness. She acknowledges that there are some tough & very personal decisions to be made during the turbulent adolescent years. In order to really grow & find not only your place in the world, but yourself as well, you have to overcome the obstacles that come up on the course.
In short, Purity is a wonderful book. Yes the main character does a few reckless things & some more conservative readers may be a bit offended at the portrayal of sex (getting laid vs. making love), but I still think this book is open to interpretation & a great stepping stone to some important conversations.
The big question though (for those who have read it): do you agree with Shelby's actions in regards to the loophole for the vow?