Written and Read by Jackson Pearce
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 24, 2012) & Hachette Audio
Buy the Book: Amazon
Buy the Audiobook: Audible
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.
At a Glance:
Reading Purity was a mix of enjoyment, frustration, disappointment, laughter, and sadness for me. Purity raises a lot of questions, which I really like, but didn't leave me with a sense of resolution or growth at the end. While this bothered me, I have to say, I did enjoy reading it, and will continue to read anything Jackson Pearce writes.
I don't know if you know this, but Jackson Pearce actually read this audiobook herself. When I got it, I didn't know that, so I was really surprised when I heard her voice. I have to say, it was a little strange in this instance, because I've watched a lot of her YouTube videos, so I instantly put her face with her voice, and Shelby became Jackson to me. Though it was strange at first, Jackson did a fantastic job on the audio. Her voice seems to be made for this sort of thing. It was clear and articulate (without being too much so), and her voices for the characters were easily distinguishable. (And she'll be happy to know that the male voices didn't sound pervy.) In fact, I'd say she was one of the best female readers that I've heard. One thing I really liked about her reading the book was that I knew she was reading it correctly. She knew how to pronounce all the names, and if she emphasized something, that's how it was supposed to be. If she sounded angry, or snotty, or happy, or whatever, I knew it wasn't just the reader's interpretation, it was actually what the author intended. I enjoyed listening to it so much, that I actually listened to the entire thing in a 24 hour span. I definitely recommend it! Want to hear it for yourself? Check it out here!
Did I like Shelby?
I honestly don't know how I feel about Shelby. While she was funny, and seemed to really love and miss her mother, she also had a lot of qualities that I wouldn't appreciate in a friend. One thing that bothered me about her was how judgmental she was, especially when it came to people who she would probably have called judgmental herself. She was constantly critical of other people's motives. I'm not saying that their motives were good or bad, but Shelby certainly didn't have her act together either. I also found her to be pretty selfish. She didn't seem concerned with what was going on in anyone's life but her own. It was like everyone existed to be there for her when and if she needed them. Not to mention the way she treated the boys that she decided to have sex with. However, I did still enjoy her voice, and found myself rooting for her. After all, I was probably the most selfish teenagers on the planet, weren't we all?
Controversy and Questions:
There's no doubt that this book will have some controversy surrounding it. There's a lot of religious questioning in it that I'm sure will ruffle some feathers. I honestly don't have a problem with it. I think it's a natural and realistic reaction to be angry at God when something horrible happens to you. I actually like it when questions are raised, and people are challenged to think about why they believe what they believe. I do wish that Shelby would have resolved some of those issues, in one way or another, or that she would have at least attempted to. There just didn't seem to be much growth in her character, and that was disappointing. Maybe the point was to just raise the questions and make you think, but I tend to want to feel more resolution.
I did really love Shelby's friends. While Ruby's advice was absurd, in my opinion, I felt like she really cared about Shelby and would do anything for her. She was also pretty funny. I think she made me laugh more than anyone else in the book. Then there was Jonas. He was the voice of reason in this crazy situation. Too bad no one would listen to him. He was definitely an amazing friend to Shelby. I love the way he balanced supporting her, while never shying away from telling her how he felt about the choices she was making.
This review has been really hard for me because I didn't like so many of the choices that Shelby made, I didn't like the way she often treated people, I didn't like the way Christians were often portrayed, I didn't like how flippant Shelby was about getting rid of her virginity or just "getting laid" with basically whoever, as long as they didn't have a disease (how they knew this....who knows?), I didn't like that she never really seemed to regret her horrible decisions, BUT I really enjoyed reading it. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but I finished it in a day because it was just a good read. I think I just really like Jackson Pearce's writing, and I liked the voice of this book. It was fun, and sad, and suspenseful, and sweet.
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
- Sexual Content: Very Heavy
- Profanity: Heavy
- Violence: None