Purity by Jackson Pearce
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on Apri; 24, 2012
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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.
Purity is a short light read that sheds some light onto some more serious topics such as father-daughter relationships, sex and religion. Definitely a book that you can sit down and finish in one sitting!
The protagonist, Shelby, is a likeable character. She does her best to abide by her mother’s dying wishes and her dad’s rules and she never goes as far as to break them. Shelby is outgoing and lives her lives her life to the fullest, she even has a huge bucket-list that she’s been slowly making her way through with the help of her friends Jonas and Ruby. Jonas and Ruby were great friends, they were supportive of Shelby and understood how she had to live her life by her mum’s promises and her dad’s rules. They never pressure her into doing something that’s unreasonable and they always have Shelby’s best interest in mind. However, I felt like I couldn’t fully connect with the characters, this maybe because the book was so short. The only thing I still can’t wrap my head around is Shelby’s race to have sex before she vows to her dad that she’ll live a pure life. I partially understand where her reasoning comes from, but I think she ends up being a bit rash, doing whatever she can just to get the deed done. I didn’t necessarily agree with Shelby’s mindset or her actions, but she learnt some valuable lessons on the way.
Although Shelby is on a quest to finally have sex, there is little romance in this book whatsoever, I would say maybe only 1%. I didn’t exactly realise this while I was reading the book, and I feel like this book doesn’t require romance to get its point across.
The plot wasn’t the major point of the novel, instead, it focused more on Shelby’s character development and the lessons that she learnt. Contrasting the lighthearted feel of this book were some more serious topics including sex, father-daughter relationships, religion, promises, death, purity. Throughout the novel, Shelby questions her faith and her relationship with God, not understanding why he took her mother away from her. Shelby’s relationship with her own father develops profoundly, and she begins to understand that he just wants the best for her and that he wants to learn what Shelby truly wants in her life, instead of forcing things upon her. However, in saying this, I felt like Pearce just skimmed the surface of these topics, and she could’ve delved deeper in her exploration.
Overall, Purity is both a fluffy and serious-toned novel, and despite its short length is able to address some relevant issues.