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.
When I started this book, my thoughts on it were completely different than when it ended. In the beginning, I was thinking that it would be a book about a girl finding herself, and finally getting over the death of her mother. I was wrong. Those are elements, but really, it was about a girl not finding herself, but trying to be true to herself, while keeping promises that were made by a young girl that didn't understand what they meant.
She kept her promises, but she was someone else. She doesn't break the promises, but she literally did the exact opposite of the promise's meaning. The most important promise? "Live Without Restraint." A good promise, right? But she made a list of things that she needed to do, in order to live without restraint. "Yay, I'm living without restraint, but I have a list on how to do it!
I did actually really enjoy the character of Shelby though. She did her best to keep those promises that she made, and really was an overall great gal. I could imagine hanging out with her, and being like her. Because she was down-to-earth, oblivious, and really, I think that she knew what she was doing. I also really liked Jonas, but for completely different reasons. I thought that Jonas was adorable in his completely nerdy way, and that he would be the best guy friend ever.
I really enjoyed the religious undertones, as a debate point. And she makes a valid point. Why doesn't Adam ever get blamed? He did it too. He was tempted by Eve, but Eve was tempted by Satan. Who's the real culprit here? Also, I've never understood why virginity was so much of a bigger deal for girls than guys. If a girl has sex, people call her a slut. If a boy has sex, he's automatically some kind of a stud?!
So, this book raised some valid issues that girls have with themselves, their parents, and boys. I found that Shelby grew a lot throughout the book, and that I wanted to know what Shelby did to fix her problems. In general, I thought all her decisions were good, given her circumstances.