Purity Jackson Pearce Book Review

A young adult book about virginity, the loss there of and strong religious themes like Purity by Jackson Pearce is bound to cause some controversy. Y’all, I think Purity has an audience and perhaps that audience is someone like me, because it didn’t offend me like it did a few of my friends.

Purity Jackson Pearce Book Cover


Shelby is just finishing her finals and about to being the summer before senior year. She is doing her best to live out promises made on her mother’s death bed – love and listen to dad and live without restraint. When Shelby’s dad volunteers to run the Princess Ball, she sees a conflict in her promises because one tenant of the ball is that the girls make a purity pledge to their dads. She takes her promises very seriously and with the help of her friends -Jonas and Ruby- searches for a loophole, eventually deciding that if she loses her virginity before the ball, the pledge is null and void as there is no purity to begin with.

I think that maybe I have more understanding than your average person for Shelby and her ridiculous plan for a few reasons. One, she makes the promises when she is young – 10 years old to be exact – and to lose a parent as a kid is really traumatizing. Shelby may not process the promises like a normal person does because the death of her mother may have caused some post traumatic stress and she doesn’t see that they are not the end-all, be-all and is not logical about them. Second, I also realize a lot of Shelby’s issues could have been avoided if she’d just communicate with her dad, but I remember being a teen and also not communicating with my parents except to fight.

I also didn’t mind the religious themes in Purity so much because I’ve been there. And to make this personal and you, the reader, aware of the bias I walked in and read Purity with – I went to “Jesus Camp” as a kid, I once made and broke a purity pledge, hell I not only went to church on Sunday, but also on Wednesdays and was a Vacation Bible School counselor. Like Shelby, I questioned my faith and ultimately walked away from all that religion. And I think that maybe her decision was made lightly with not a lot of deep soul searching, but I can understand her.

Shelby’s not a perfect character. She makes snap judgments. She doesn’t treat some people well. She uses people. But I saw a bit of myself in her and perhaps this is why I am not anti-Purity, because her questioning might as well have been my questioning. I guess I’d recommend Jackson Pearce’s latest book with reservations — if you’ve got a similar background to me and had sort of similar experience, you might wanna try it.

Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley.

Other reviews of Purity by Jackson Pearce:

Bloggers Heart Books
Novel Thoughts
Chick Loves Lit
Moonlight Book Reviews

The following two tabs change content below.
April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I can definitely seeing this book upsetting/offending some people, based on the material. In general, I am a little leery of books with religious under/overtones because they’re often super bad although I think I’m pretty relaxed about that. But I am also intensely creeped out by purity balls where girls pledge their “purity” to their dads! EW! So there’s a lot of curiosity about that aspect. I don’t think I’ve read any books featuring that event despite reading about them in magazines and such.

    • Seriously! Pledging purity to your dad is, in a word, “EW.” It’s archaic and super creepy.

      This is the first review of this book I’ve read and it sounds interesting, but I’m always skeptical of “religious” books for the same reasons above…

  2. I’ve been really curious about Purity. I’m always wary about religious books. Not because I get offending. I’m always afraid they will be preachy. But this one doesn’t sound like it. I’m going to add it to my TBR. Great review!

  3. Great review! Yeah, I can see where there would be some controversy, but that’s what’s great about books, right? This seems like something I would enjoy and it seems pretty unique. Great review! 🙂

  4. So it sounds like I have a super similar background to you, but I think I have you trumped on the religious side: I was a missionary kid (yeah, in one of those weird countries that people aren’t really sure where exactly it is). I was given a purity ring on my 13th birthday by my parents and while I think purity balls and pledging your purity to your dad is a little creepy (my parents just wanted me to promise in general to stay pure until marriage) I can understand where it’s all coming from. That being said, today I’m not quite as into the religious stuff though I see the significance of it to a lot of people. I just took off my purity ring last summer at age 24 (though it’s been null and void for years), so it’s taken me a while to break from what I grew up with. Anyway, thanks for the honest review and I will definitely check this book out. Literally, once it gets to my library system since I’m poor.

  5. Hmm, I’m curious about this one, but I don’t know if I’ll put in on the very top of my want to read list. The concept is definitely intriguing, and the subject matter definitely will not offend me. However, I do not have the same background as you and Shelby and I might be irritated by her assumptions. Maybe not, though, if the book is well-written enough that I feel like I get her urgency/need to follow along with a promise she made when she could not understand what she was agreeing to.

    I’ll definitely be trying Pearce’s fairy tale series first.

  6. Oh how I know how you feel – I have been very curious about this one, I’ll have to check it out when I get some time.

  7. Great review, April, this must have been especially interesting to you seeing as you must have gone through some similar situations to the main character. I’d like to read this!

  8. For me this wasn’t even about the religion but more about the fact that she gave away herself away for just a flimsy reason. I mean, maybe it’s just me but I reckon such decisions should not be made for such flimsy reasons. And you are right, I think a whole lot of my reaction as to do with my cultural background. I am kinda curious about the reaction this will engender with the general public.

  9. I’m curious about how Pearce went about writing about something like this. I’m a little confused by your review because I’m not exactly sure which way the book is supposed to go, if it is religious or not, but I liked Pearce’s other books well enough. I’m very interested that she has broken away from the fairy tale books and has taken on something so controversial.

    In the end, this is a decision made by each individual and no one should knock that. The whole purity pledge thing, I think, doesn’t really work. If someone comes to a decision on their own, they’ll want to stick to it if they’re invested in it.

  10. What a wonderful & honest open review. Thank you so much for sharing. My children go to a church school & attend church functions, as I did when I was their age. I do think it gives you far more insight into the choices available, religious or not.

  11. I’m reading this one for contemp month and I’m excited. I love the books with religious undertones. So YAY for Purity. I can’t wait. I’ve read reactions from all over the place on this one – I’m eager to figure out mine and get it out there.

  12. I’m surprised that there were people offended by the book and who hated Shelby. Actually, no, I’m not. XD But honestly, I think the book is amazing and I see Shelby sticking to the promises as more of a loyalty thing, even if she uses it a bit as a crutch so she doesn’t have to make any real decisions on her own.


  1. […] “A young adult book about virginity, the loss there of and strong religious themes like Purity by Jackson Pearce is bound to cause some controversy.” April @ Good Books and Good Wine […]