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
Going into this story I admit that I was hoping to have more humor to it. It turned out to be a more thought provoking book for me. I am sure that the author meant to spark discussion with the book and the way that sex is approached in it. After finishing it, and time to think about what I have just read. I find that if I were in the same kind of situation I would have interpreted what my mother said differently than this main character had.
I feel that the focus of her concerns were on sex. And she let her mother, father and friends help her make the decision that she wanted to have sex before the Princess Ball more than her own desire. As the story progresses and she explores those emotions more with more knowledge you can see those ideas from her directly about what she was doing and what she really thought about her actions. But through most of the novel I was a little concerned that she was feeling the push to do it more from outside influences than her own personal choices. To me it felt like she was just going through the actions, until the end of the book, when you could finally see her forming her own decisions apart from the conflicted ideas she was feeling before.
It had me thinking about my own experiences and thoughts on what virginity, purity, sex, meant to me. There are times in the book that the word slut and whore are thrown around. This is an interesting topic in itself for girls to discuss. The differences that the willingness to want to have sex, differs in the minds of boys and girls. That still to this day, if a girl wants to have sex that she is looked upon as a slut, but all of the boys that had sex in this book were never frowned upon for their decisions.
For a Young Adult novel that focuses on sex and defining purity I think this was done well. It is handled carefully and in a way that can bring great discussions and in a more subtle thought provoking way.