So, a friend of mine read my copy of this before I got a chance to and she thought it was okay but not nearly as good as Jackson’s other work. I think this helped me because I went into with lower expectations and ended up really enjoying it.
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.
First off I will say this book is completely predictable. Not necessarily in a bad way. But you know exactly how things are going to go with Shelby and Jonas (who was definitely my favourite character in this) and you know exactly what Shelby’s Dad’s motivations are for doing the Princess Ball. And you’re not going to find either of those reveals shocking or anything.
That being said, I don’t think they are meant to be shocking or unexpected. And I really did enjoy both of those characters throughout the story so, whatever.
Now, if you’ve followed me throughout my internet history over the past couple years, you might be aware that I once wrote a story that involved a girl who decided she needed to lose her virginity by a certain date. I wrote this as a fanfiction (and no, I’m not mentioning what fandom, or title, or anything…probably) but it made a lot of this story a little familiar to me. Not too much, because they are very different stories and very different characters. But I think I empathized a bit more with Shelby than others? Maybe? I’ve heard some people say that they found her cold. I didn’t find that at all. I found her very confused and young and trying her best to live by the last things her mother ever said to her without having any idea how to. And that made her focused and lead her to poor decision making.
Other than that I found this to be quite a fast read and mostly harmless? Like I don’t feel one way or another about it that much. For my personal tastes I would’ve preferred less God in the story and more…reconciling. Like, at the end of the story I would’ve liked to see more of her realizing that Shelby doesn’t have to keep to the promises in quite the way she has been.
All the other things I feel are greatly tied up in spoilers so I’m simply going to say that I wished most of the things that happened had been expanded on, or shown more…in-depthly.
It only took me a couple hours to read this, and I’m a slow reader. So you’re not risking much if you decide to give this one a try. If you liked Shut Out by Kody Keplinger, I think you’ll like this one.