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. ~From GoodReads
Shelby Crewe made three promises to her dying mother. To always listen to her dad, to love as much as possible and to live her life without limits. She has spent the six years since making good on those promises, especially the last promise. But there's a problem. If she always listens to her dad, she can't live without limits. So Shelby has a "loophole" system. If her dad isn't specific about a rule, she can work around it. When Shelby's dad signs them up for the annual Princess Ball that will force her to make a vow of purity until marriage, Shelby only has one way around it. She must lose her purity before taking the vow. That decision sets Shelby up on a quest to find the right guy to give her virginity to, but she also discovers what she's lost in her single-minded goal of fulfilling her mother's wishes.
PURITY was not what I expected. I thought the story would be more of a closer look at Purity (or Princess) Balls. A cautionary tale of what happens when you let a group decide what's best for you and your body. For those who may not know, a purity ball consists of several vows, among those, vowing your "purity" to your father. I for one, think that's creepy. But honestly, while the question of the vow does play a big part in the story, I found the heart of PURITY to be Shelby's relationships.
While Shelby's mother asked her to keep the promises to her father to help them remain close, it actually caused a distance between them. I went into the story sure that I would dislike Shelby's dad. He does sign her up for a purity ball, after all. But as the story unfolded, I began to realize that he is simply lacking direction. He's not a bad guy at all, simply misguided. Shelby is a girl with strong conviction. Even if she's not sure that her decision is the best, she will follow through, no matter what. She is incredulous every step of the way, even questioning the pastor as to why boys don't have "Prince Balls". And I admire that Shelby wasn't afraid to stand up for herself and her body. Shelby's friends, Ruby and Jonas were simply brilliant. Ruby was a riot, a great relief for the drama. She continually pulled through for Shelby when needed. Jonas was Shelby's compass. He was always there, no matter if he thought Shelby was wrong. I enjoyed seeing their friendship unfold in new ways.
PURITY is a funny, thought-provoking story. I was charmed from the opening lines, and read it in only a few hours. I was surprised by the development of the story. OH! I can't go without saying: If you love the movie Sixteen Candles, you will love last few chapters of PURITY. Maybe it was just me, but I felt a "Jake Ryan standing at his car after the church" moment. If nothing else, that should seal the deal for some of you!
(A funny moment when a friend was describing the sexual status of the HS band.)
" 'I'd also say most of the horn line has played the game, and the majority of the horn line has gone hot and heavy with a girl or two - usually from the woodwind section. People always figure it's the color guard, but seriously, it's the woodwinds you've got to look out for.' " (pg.47)
Published April 24th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Source: A finished copy was provided by the publisher for review purpose.