Author: Jackson Pearce
Release Date: April 24, 2012 (hardcover)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Copy provided by publisher
Overall: 3 Stars
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.
After reading a whole bunch of rave reviews singing the praises of Jackson Pearce's first contemporary novel, Purity, I was definitely hoping I would feel the same way as well. But while I did like reading the book, a part of me still felt disappointed when I reached its conclusion. Purity had so much potential to take a philosophical approach to universal themes of friendships of friendship, loss and sexuality, but in the end, I don't think it completely rose to the occasion.
The lack of communication between the characters was so infuriating at times in Purity, even though I kept trying to remind myself how it was needed to add conflict in the novel. I couldn't really agree with any of Shelby's choices and the rush she feels in trying to lose her virginity before the Princess Ball, where she'll have to give a vow saying she'll lead a "pure" life. Her often callous personality made it further more difficult for me to try and relate to her. Some of the guys she threw herself at didn't deserve to be used for her ulterior motives and I wasn't impressed that her friend Ruby could be so encouraging without really thinking about the consequences.
Thank goodness for Jonas because he was the voice of reason in Purity! I really wished Shelby would open her eyes and see just how lucky she was to have him in her life. He always tried to help Shelby accomplish Promise Three, living without restraint, but I understood why he couldn't support Shelby in trying her best to exploit the loophole of giving away her purity. Surprisingly, I think my favourite aspect about Purity was seeing Shelby and father trying to bridge the gap of their distant relationship and become closer again. While Shelby thinks her Dad doesn't care about her, it's completely obvious to readers just how much he loves her, only he has no idea how to convey that affection because Shelby has never given him a chance.
Jackson Pearce also managed to tie in Shelby's religious beliefs and how her mother's death has shaken up her faith. However, due to the limited length of the novel, I don't think there was enough pages to fully develop the storyline and characters to a greater degree... Purity was a short, quick read with some heartfelt moments along the way. Fans of Jackson Pearce will surely enjoying reading her latest book!
Thanks so much to Hachette Book Group Canada for providing this review copy! You can learn more about Jackson Pearce's Purity on Hachette's website, and if you're not already doing so, don't forget to follow HBG Canada on Twitter and "like" their Facebook page!