Monday, June 25, 2012

Purity by Jackson Pearce

Before Shelby's mother passed away, she gave her daughter three rules to live by: listen to your father, love as much as possible, and live a life without restraint. Shelby has always kept her word to her mother, but this time she's up against something different. Her father is organizing the annual Princess Ball, which means that Shelby is going to be one of the princesses on display...and she will have to make a vow (to her father) to live a pure life. Shelby doesn't want to remain a virgin until she's married, and so she finds a loophole in her mom's rules - if she's already had sex before the vow, she can't promise her purity to her father. Time is running out for her to find someone to sleep with...but is this going to be more difficult than she anticipated?

I love the questions that Jackson Pearce raises and addresses in her writing. The idea of purity (and purity balls and rings and promises) is a very interesting one: Is purity something that you can promise to someone else? Why would you? What does purity mean? Is it only about being a virgin? It's strange to say that the honesty is something that I love about this book, because the characters spend so much time keeping things to themselves. But there's an honesty in the writing that comes through in the characters. The characters lives are messy; the characters make good decisions and bad decisions but it was always clear to me why they were making the decisions. I did struggle with the initial premise a little bit - not the Princess Ball aspect but Shelby's interpretation of her mother's rule. I didn't think that "listen to your father" necessarily meant "obey your father, no matter what he says," which is how Shelby lives it. But after awhile I could see that part of the promise was contextual. Agreeing to the promises was one of the last things that Shelby ever said to her mother; they were some of the only guidance that Shelby's mom ever gave her about her teen years. Being in that situation meant that Shelby had a different perspective on it than I would, and I didn't have the emotional connection to the situation to influence my interpretation. (And, of course, there is a little bit of the 'well, if she didn't do it that way, there wouldn't be much of a story.) This is a great book for teen readers - particularly for teen girls and young women as it provides a bit of a framework for thinking about your life, your sexuality, and the relationships that you have with people in your life.

Check out Jackson Pearce's website.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

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