Thursday, April 12, 2012

ARC Review: Purity by Jackson Pearce

Publisher:  Little, Brown BFYR
Publication Date: April 24th, 2012

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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

**Thanks to Kelsey, Amber, Shannon, and Lori over at Southern Book Bloggers/Southern ARC Tours for the opportunity to review this amazing book!**

I'm a big fan of Jackson Pearce.  I loved her first three books, As You Wish, Sisters Red (read my review HERE), and Sweetly (read my review HERE), and I eagerly await the third in her Fairy Tale Retellings series, Fathomless.  She does modern-day retellings so well (As You Wish is not a fairy tale retelling, but is is a modern take on an old story), so I was surprised last year when I heard about the soon-to-be-released Purity.  Purity falls within the Contemporary genre and is as far from the world of magic and fairy tales as you can get.  To be honest, I wasn't sure I would like it; I thought I would have pre-conceived expectations, based on Jackson's prior books, and that this would not be able to measure up (disclaimer: I'm usually not a big fan of Contemporary YA).  I should have given Jackson more credit...  Not only did she write a really great Contemporary that I enjoyed immensely, but I think it may be my favorite of her books so far.  Purity was funny, touching, and not at all what I expected.  Why?

If you've read anything by Jackson Pearce, you know that she does characters really well.  I always develop strong attachments to them right away, and the characters in this book were no different.  The protagonist, Shelby, was as real as a fictional teenager could be.  I read so many books about teens and they are most often portrayed as stereotypical angsty, rebellious, hormonal, know-it-all, brats.  Yes, they are stereotyped that way for a reason, and yes, Shelby definitely showed some of these traits from time to time, but she was SO much more than that, and not just because of her circumstances.  She was a good kid who was learning the ropes as she went, all while having this promise to her dead mother that she had to live up to.  I liked Shelby a lot.  I also liked her two best friends, Jonas and Ruby.  Jonas had the kind of wit that I love in a boy, and the whole time I was reading the book, I was thinking, "Why aren't you looking to him to be 'the ONE'?".  Then there's Ruby; without Ruby I think Shelby would have had a very difficult time having any fun.  Ruby was the crazy-maker, and her role in Shelby's life was absolutely vital.  As for the supporting characters, they were great as well.  Shelby's dad was spot on  I felt bad for him in so many ways.  I was raised by my dad after my parents divorced, and let me tell you, I feel for ANY dad raising a teenage girl alone; there is no way to relate to her on any level.  I also loved (and hated) Shelby's aunt.  What a character!  Saying she was merely colorful would be like saying Pucci print is colorful.  I could go on and on about the characters, but I think you get the idea...

Now for the story...  When I first read the synopsis, I was thinking, "What? Is cancer the new vampire?".  Not to sound insensitive, but there are a lot of YA books recently that involve people dying of cancer (like maybe there needs to be a new genre called "Cancer").  This book isn't a "Cancer" book though.  It's a book about a girl trying to honor her dying mother's last request under impossible circumstances.  Cancer plays a small role, but this is a coming-of-age book on every level, and it is wonderfully done.  It's also a coming-to-terms-with-God-and-religion book, and that is something I didn't expect, but I felt like Shelby asked the right questions, even if she didn't always get answers.  Jackson's trademark humor (she is one of the funniest YA authors out there) is everywhere in this book, but there is also a tender sensitivity there, providing a beautiful balance.  I laughed, cried, yelled at the characters, and before I knew it, the book was over, and I felt like I had just finished a great meal.  When a book makes he run the emotional gamut, ending in a deep sense of satisfaction, I know it was a great book.

Overall, I would say that if you are a YA Contemporary fan, this is an absolute MUST READ.  Run out on April 24th and buy this book!  That said, even if you aren't generally into the genre, read it anyway.  Quality-wise, it is up there with the likes of John Green and Stephanie Perkins.  It does not disappoint!

One more thing I have to mention for personal reasons...  Jackson is from Atlanta, and I always love her Southern shout-outs, but there was one in this book that was especially close to my heart.  Ruby worked at The Flying Biscuit!!!  The Flying Biscuit is very real and there is one across from the hospital where I delivered my first baby *many* years ago.  I spent a lot of time on bedrest there, and I ate their food, instead of hospital food, almost every day.  Yum.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  Memories!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★    

Grade Level Recommendation:  So, obviously this book involves sex.  It's pretty much centered around a girl deciding to lose her virginity for none of the traditional reasons like love or lust or marriage.  That being true, I am going to place this firmly in the "High School and up" category.  Grades 9 and up.  Ages 14+.

1 comment:

  1. I had my doubts about this one. On one hand, I really really wanted to read this one, but it also sounded a bit strange.. I think I'm going to read her other books first, but this one sounds pretty good :)

    Thanks for the review!


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