Author: Jackson Pearce
Publication Date: April 21, 2012
Synopsis: 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.
Review: I love when I find an author who can write across so many different genres and do it as well as Jackson Pearce does. I mean, I figured Purity would be good - all of the other books I've read by Jackson have been fantastic. But I really enjoyed it more than I thought I was going to, especially considering contemporary YA is not really my thing.
I thought the whole premise of the book was, underneath the whole losing her virginity thing, was really actually pretty sweet. Shelby has struggled with her life since her mother died, and she's doing the best she can with a distant father and her two best friends. She listens to her father, because that's one of the Promises, but she usually finds a way around listening to him when she wants to do something she know he'll say no to. Throughout the whole process of trying to lose her virginity, I felt like Shelby definitely matured and became a much better person.
I think my favorite part of this book was watching the dynamic between Shelby and her father change. Since her mother died, Shelby and her father basically live two totally different lives and are just two people living in the same house. He tries, but Shelby just doesn't really care and neither of them know how to behave around the other. As much as Shelby hates the idea of the Princess Ball, without it, she and her dad would never have begun to understand each other. Their relationship is nowhere near perfect by the end of the book, but it's getting better and that's what counts.
Then there's the other relationships. Shelby isn't looking for a full-time boyfriend - she just wants a hookup. But in the process, she begins to realize that maybe the one guy she's always relied on to be her best friend could be something more. The romance isn't too over the top, which is nice considering these characters are only like 15-16, and it's left pretty open-ended. So not necessarily a happily-ever-after, but definitely a warm-fuzzy ending.
If you like contemporary YA books and are looking for something that's got it's share of humor and heartbreak, I think you would really enjoy this book. It's a fairly easy read, but there's quite a bit packed into it, and it's very interesting to see Shelby grow and mature. I'm pretty glad this was a standalone novel, since it's just about the perfect length for the story it's trying to tell, but I'll totally read any other contemporary books Jackson writes in the future! I'd give this a 3/5.