Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown
Author Info: Website | Twitter
Buy the Book: Amazon | IndieBound
Add It: Goodreads | Shelfari
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.
However, their issue wasn’t with the humor. It was with God. *rolls up sleeves* Oh, yeah, I’m going there, kids. Best get ready.
I’m going to go ahead and put this out there, but I am not a Christian, nor religious. So, there’s that. Some people are claiming this is an anti-God book. As someone who would have absolutely no problem reading anti-God books, I will say that this is, in fact, NOT an a anti-God book. The character even blatantly states that she believes in God more than when she was a kid. BUT, she does question God and God’s motives? -- is that a good word for this? -- and that’s actually quite revolutionary. Questioning does not necessarily mean a lack belief, it just means the character is deciding for herself how she wants to live in a world where everyone has their own opinion on everything. And really, that is the theme of the book, isn’t it?
Now that I’ve discussed religion, let’s talk about sex. (I don’t know about you, but I am loving this review so far.) Reading Shelby, Jonas and Ruby talk about sex in such a blunt and frank way, not only did it make me laugh, but made me feel like I was in early high school again and trying to figure it all out with practical logic. And you know what? We need more books like this. With candid and frank discussions of sex, accompanied with the reality of the situation. Pearce’s book just rang truthfully from page one on and while it is a story, I could see this happening when I was in high school (which wasn’t THAT long ago) and in my group of friends. (Admittedly, purity balls are a rarity where I went to high school, but living in the south - I’m familiar with them.)
Okay, now that the controversial stuff is over, let’s get back to the actual book. What I really liked about this book was that the situation made me feel all squicky inside. While squicky is not a word, “uncomfortable” just didn’t cover it. A girl is trying to lose her virginity in order to keep her promise to her dead mother to obey her father. See? Squicky. To the hopeful romantic part of me, it made me sad. To the logical part of my brain, I understood the bind. These two usually-irreconcilable parts of the brain, were soothed by one, beautifully stated quote (that you could in theory, scream BOOK RUINER at me, but really, you know the premise, you know the goal, that much is stated quickly, I don’t really see as a surprise - but in case you are, then you’ve had this long and rambling side note to realize I’m going to give a quote and you should skip to the next paragraph, like, now) “You got laid. But that doesn’t mean you won’t ever make love.” And that makes so many things better and brighter.
While it might be deemed as kind of controversial book, not only I would recommend it to teens, but to parents as well. I mean, really. Mr. Crewe gave me so many sad smiles. He gets the ultimate Trying Dad award. A little clueless, but means well. And I think it’s easier to see his blunders through fiction than blunders in real life.
Solid contemp, Jackson Pearce, solid contemp.