Released: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Little Brown
Source: swapped for
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
I called in sick to work for today and while I was sitting on my couch, decided I needed a short, quick read to distract me, instead of continuing on with what I've been reading. Sometimes there's nothing better than a super short book for a quick escape, and at only 218 pages Purity provided me that escape for a couple hours.
I've really enjoyed Jackson Pearce's fairy-tale retellings in the past, so I was looking forward to reading a contemporary by her. When Shelby's mother died years ago, Shelby promised her three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as she could, and to live without restraint. Shelby thinks she knows what that means, but when her father starts planning the Princess Ball, where daughters pledge in front of their fathers to remain pure, Shelby is suddenly faced with a dilemma - she doesn't want to pledge to remain a virgin until marriage since that seems to go against her third promise to her mother, to live without restraint. The only solution, it seems, is Shelby has to lose her virginity before the ball.
It might seem a little silly: so what if Shelby makes that purity pledge, it doesn't seem like any of the other girls participating are taking it that seriously, so if she wants to back out later, what's the big deal? The big deal is that would go against her first promise to her mother, to listen to her father. The only solution she and her best friends Jonah and Ruby can come up with is to ditch her virginity before the ceremony. I can see how this book might cause a lot of controversy. It's obvious that teenagers have sex in high school quite frequently these days, but there's still a small part of me that hopes they aren't throwing their virginity away as carelessly as Shelby tries to. It gets down to the point where she'll take just about anyone. Um, gross.
But I can't hold that against Shelby or Jackson Pearce. Shelby really is a good girl and she was only trying to obey her dying mother's wishes. Despite her willingness to sleep with someone, anyone, so hastily, Shelby is probably one of the most innocent and good girls you can find in YA lit. Proving that you can have sex before marriage and still be a good girl.
But Purity is about more than just Shelby's sex life. The bigger picture is about a teenage girl's relationship with her father. Shelby didn't have much of a relationship with her father before they started planning the Princess Ball together. Their relationship was filled with awkwardness, something I know a lot of teenage girls feel about their relationships with their fathers. It was wonderful to see their relationship grow throughout the novel. Finally, a YA book where the parents aren't mysteriously missing.
If you're looking for a fast, cute, contemporary read, Purity is for you. It's got lighter moments that made me laugh out loud, but it's also got a great message that's sure to spark at least some internal debate. Give it a read!