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I Wanna Sex You Up

A review of Purity by Jackson Pearce, who probably isn't a fan of chastity belts.

I Wanna Sex You Up

BOOK REPORT for Purity by Jackson Pearce

Cover Story: Bling
BFF Charm: Meh
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Let's Talk About Sex, Baby; Sweet Bakin' Cakes
Relationship Status: Sex Ed Class Partners

Cover Story: Bling

I admit, the main reason I like this cover is because it reminds me of Tiffany's, and I'm shallow like that. But the blue is so pretty! And the lock charm is so simple and gorgeous! And this could totally be an adult book, you guys! And who wants to go on a jewelry shopping spree?! But, like, at Forever 21 so we only have to spend $5 for ten pairs of earrings?

The Deal:

At some point or another, we've all made a promise to our parents that we couldn't keep. You know, like "Have a great trip, Mom and Dad! Man, it is going to be SO GOOD to spend some quality time ALONE in our big mansion. I swear I'll study extra hard!" or "I promise I'll ace all of my classes freshman year and not experiment with alcohol AT ALL." But in the case of Shelby Crewe, when she made three oaths to her dying mother, she meant to keep them.

Promise One: Love and listen to your father.
Promise Two: Love as much as possible.
Promise Three: Live without restraint.

But a few years later, when Shelby's dad starts to show a weird interest in heading up the annual Princess Ball, a father daughter dance in which girls pledge to save sex for marriage, Shelby suddenly finds herself caught between her promises. She wants to respect her dad... but she also wants a little hanky panky. In order to stay true to her mother's dying wishes, Shelby settles on a loophole: if she loses her virginity before the Princess Ball, she won't have to promise to keep it in front of her dad. Now the only problem she has is finding the right guy to do the deed.

BFF Charm: Meh

I think this might be one of those times when my actual age really separates me from the YA characters in a book. Shelby is a nice kid, but girlfriend is waaaay too literal when it comes to the Three Promises. I'm sorry, but can't she just talk to her dad and tell him that the Princess Ball is creepy, misogynistic event? (Ain't nothing wrong with a Father Daughter dance-- my dad and I had a blast at mine in the 5th grade-- but adding in that whole chastity vow? That you say in front of yr DAD? HELL NAH.) The fact that Shelby thinks it's easier to just up and pop her cherry instead of simply SPEAKING TO HER FATHER made me cringe in a way that is v. unattractive for my face. I guess she's in that phase where everything is black and white, and while I'm sure that's typical for a teenager, it sure made it tough for me to connect with her.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

As you might suspect, all of Shelby's attempted sexual conquests fall completely on the side of AWKWARD. She's not it for the romance, so I hope you aren't either. And then there's Jonas, her bestie who is v. clearly in love with her, and she with him, and yet both of them are totally oblivious. Some people might find this kind of thing really sweet, but I just find it hella annoying. GET YR SHIZZ TOGETHER, KIDS.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Jackson Pearce writes in a frank, simple style, which especially comes in handy for the sex scenes. Shelby's voice is strong if not complex, and the pace is quick and easy. I enjoyed the balance between description (never too flowery) and dialogue (authentic), but the text lacked the emotional power necessary for me to understand Shelby's struggle with the Promises and her grief over her mother.

Bonus Factor: Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

I ADORED this book's honesty and openness about sex. Shelby's various physical experiences weren't romanticized, and they weren't condemned. They were awkward and real and a refreshing change from the soft focused, well-lit bedrooms of cinema. And while I don't think it's a great idea to go on a mission to lose your virginity in order to honor your mother, I do think that Shelby's sexual education offers a valuable perspective for teen readers.

Bonus Factor: Sweet Bakin' Cakes

While planning for the Princess Ball, Shelby and her dad visit a bake shop called Sweet Bakin' Cakes. The minute I read that name, I WANTED TO GO TO THERE. And eat ALL OF THE CAKE, which is described in luscious detail. Even better, the shop is owned by a lady named Wanda, who wears silver frosted make-up and is excited about everything and is basically who I want to be in 30 years.

Casting Call:

Shelby is a good egg, but she's also pretty clueless. Reminds me of someone...

Xenia Goodwin as Shelby

Relationship Status: Sex Ed Class Partners

When I heard we'd be talking about sex, I was really dreading health class. Like, can somebody say TIA?!! But then I got paired up with this book, and it wasn't embarrassed or weird about anything! It was really honest about sex and the emotions surrounding it, and it didn't judge anyone in the room for their experience or lack thereof. And even though I don't forsee us hanging out after this unit is done, I really admire this book for shedding light on something that some people would rather shame into darkness.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Little, Brown. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Purity is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).