Dec 7, 2012

Review: Purity by Jackson Pearce

Title: Purity
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 4.24.2012
Pages: 218
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Finished copy provided by publisher

Rating: A

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.

Prior to this, my only experience with Jackson Pearce had been in retold fairy tales (Sweetly and Sisters Red), so I wasn’t sure what to expect from her in a contemporary novel. I must say I was blown away. This is one of those books I cherish because the writing is just so poetic and lyrical. I’ve used the term “word art” in a few novels I’ve read (basically books where the writing is as elaborate and rich as a painting or tapestry), and that term totally applies here.

Shelby is adorable. She’s a sweet, teenage girl on the verge of being an adult and struggling to find a balance in both worlds. Watching her stumble and fumble her way through made her endearing and genuine to me. She was definitely one of the more likeable female characters that I’ve read in a long time. This could have easily turned into a “poor little Shelby” tale with her being morose and somber, but Shelby is vibrant and alive and visceral. It made me like her and understand her issues all the more.

I’m trying not to be biased, but I don’t think readers will find much fault or issue with the subtle religious tones in this story. As someone who was raised in the church, I was easily able to accept and acknowledge parts of this story, but trying to look at it objectively, I think Peace handled these issues very delicately and elegantly. She never once made me feel like her views or the church’s views were being forced down my throat.

Purity is a beautiful coming of age story. While the subject matter does pertain to sex, I don’t feel like I would have any problem handing this novel over to a younger teen to read because Pearce broaches the topic so tastefully and gracefully.


  1. I wasn't sure what to expect from this one either, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised! I thought she handles the sexual and religious issues superbly and I hope she's planning on writing more contemporary YA in the future. Plus, this book made me laugh out loud repeatedly - I almost died of vicarious humiliation when she was trying to buy condoms:) Have and awesome weekend Hannah!

  2. I've been eyeing this book for a while to see if I want to get it, but I wasn't sure how exactly she would handle everything, but your review convinced me! Sounds great :)

  3. Thanks for sharing this book. I haven't heard of it before and haven't seen Jackson Pearce's writing style yet. I appreciate your thoughts and will add it to my to-read list:)

  4. I love it when an author uses Christianity in writing, but in a way that isn't so in your face. I was raised in Church, and I still go, so usually it doesn't bother me at all to read about it. But sometimes, they can take it too far. But with something like this, where the message is a good one whether you are a Christian or not, I appreciate it even more. I haven't read this or anything else by the author, but I think I might have to start!


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