Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review: Purity by Jackson Pearce

Purity by Jackson Pearce 

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.

I have read one other novel by Jackson Pearce (Sisters Red) and I have heard many good things about her other releases. Contemporary YA is one of my favorite to read and I was excited to dive into Purity, even though it tackled some intense issues. I've never been put off by discussions of sex or death in YA, but religion can be iffy. It is always interesting to read about religion in certain books, but sometimes it comes off as a tad little pushy, which can ruin a book for me. Luckily, Jackson handled the religious elements of Purity extremely well and it actually made me enjoy the book that much more, even though I am not very religious. I think Purity packed a lot into just over 200 pages and will hopefully make an impact on everyone that reads it. For me, I most enjoyed the father-daughter relationship aspect of the book and it is something that is rarely done in a lot of the books I read. 

As the summary says, Purity is a novel about love, loss, and sex. I was curious how Jackson would handle all of these different topics, but I feel it all worked quite well-- especially because Purity is not all seriousness, it was actually really funny, too! The main character, Shelby, is someone I liked right away, even though at times she frustrated me with how literally she interpreted the promises. Of course, Shelby had been through a lot and I felt for her, but I wished she just would talk to her dad and open up more with what she was struggling with.

Purity was a nice change of pace for me, because the focus was less on romance and more on her relationship with her father. For some reason I especially loved this part. Father/daughter relationships are something not often dealt with in YA today and I wish they were. I could understand Shelby's reluctance to open up to her father and I related to her want to be closer with him. It made me think about my own relationship with my dad and the ending did have me kind of emotional! I loved watching Shelby and her dad  grow together over the course of the book and I think their characters were really well done.

The plot was sometimes a little rushed, in my opinion, and I was occasionally frustrated with the different characters, but I think Purity is an important book nonetheless. The way Shelby started questioning God and her faith was a unique part of the novel and it added to Shelby's character. There were a lot of heavy issues tackled in Purity, but they were intermixed with humor and adventure. (Shelby's list made me want to make one of my own!) I also liked how each of the characters mentioned in the book had something memorable about them that made them stand out to me.

All in all, Purity is a book that surprised me and I am glad I read it. Not all of the book was great, but I think Jackson handled difficult topics well and with ease. I know this book will not be for everybody and while it wasn't one of my all-time favorites, I connected with Shelby and I am anxious to find more books that focus on the character's relationship with his or her father.

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

April 24, 2012/Little, Brown BFYR/218 Pages/Young Adult

Source: Publisher
Other books by this author: Sisters Red, Sweetly 


  1. Perhaps father/daughter relationships aren't dealt with because it's relatively rare to have a strong bond between the two? This has definitley spiked my interest thank you for reviewing it so well :)

    1. That is a good point, but even so I would like to see how authors would handle it anyway. I'm glad you took the time to read my review and I hope you give the book a shot!


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