I've been a fan of Jackson Pearce since I read As You Wish in 2009, so I definitely had to have this one. Unlike her other books, this one is contemporary and has no supernatural elements, but as usual she does a bang-up job.
In Purity, we have Shelby, a teenage girl with a dead mother and a problem. She made three promises to her mother right before her untimely death, and ever since has been living by those promises as best she can.
The three promises are 1) Listen to your father, 2) Love as much as possible, and 3) Live without restraint.
But Shelby has an issue which means she will have to compromise promises one and three. Her father has decided that Shelby needs to participate in a Purity Ball, meaning she will pledge that she will not use drugs, will not drink until she is legal, and she will be a virgin until marriage. Since Shelby does not want to get married soon but also does not want to remain a virgin until she's 30, she does not want to do as her father says, since that will compromise her living without restraint. So she and her friends try to find a loophole- Shelby must lose her virginity BEFORE the ball.
Problem is, she doesn't have anyone to lose it with.
Shelby is a believable character, but she sometimes seems a lot more hung up on these promises than a normal teenager would be. It's admirable that she wants to do what her mother asked her to do and Shelby is not a spoiled, narcissistic, shallow girl. She always tries to do what she thinks is right and she doesn't resent her parents for their shortcomings (i.e, her mother is gone so she can't get advice from her and her father is hard to communicate with) but struggles to cope with things as well as she's able to. The writing makes Shelby seem real; she's always thinking about things and trying to understand the meaning of what is happening around her. So many times books will have a completely flat character who never seems to think about anything and just accepts everything as it is, but Shelby was constantly considering everything that happened to her. The other characters in the book also rung true; I often found myself thinking that I went to school with some of the same kids.
This book was funny, thought-provoking, and never once was it ever preachy. With this type of subject matter, a lot of authors would really push a certain viewpoint on the reader. But when I read this book I felt like I was a teenager again, trying to figure it out for myself and make my own conclusions. There were a few teary-eyed moments, and although it was a quick read, it was engrossing and hard to stop reading.