Thursday, October 21, 2010

Purity Reigns

“Brittany had always told me that Branson needed more than I was willing to offer, and if I didn’t give it to him, someone else would. I just didn’t know that someone else would be her.”

That short paragraph sums up most of the conflict in Purity Reigns, the first book in the Laurel Shadrach series, written by Stephanie Perry Moore. High school senior Laurel Shadrach is beautiful, athletic, popular, and comes from a strong Christian family. Plus she is dating the hottest boy in school, Branson. However, Branson is pressuring her to be more intimate than Laurel knows she should be. The reader sees this tension right from the beginning of the book. “He tilted my head toward his and kissed me passionately. I melted in his arms. Then his hand went back to my leg and started moving to an area that was definitely off limits. Without interrupting the kiss, I grabbed his wrist and kept him from going any farther.”

Added to the struggle to stay pure is Laurel’s desire to compete in the National Gymnastics Championship and win a gymnastic scholarship for college.

With a realistic taste of the challenges faced by today’s high school teenagers, the story follows Laurel’s life. Yet while Laurel grapples with betrayal, an injured ankle, strained friendships, conflicting emotions, and the pressure to succeed, the main focus of the book remains on one of the biggest tests of all: staying sexually pure.

As the story draws to a close, Laurel makes a hard choice. She ends up losing her boyfriend, who hooks up with her best friend. However, Laurel soon recognizes that another boy from her youth group is a much more godly (and healthy) love interest for her.

What I Like: I appreciate how Laurel turns to prayer when she struggles. I also like that the book shows how easy it is for ANYONE to get carried away in the sexual arena. In addition, it shows some of the consequences of poor decisions. It portrays the emotional and moral dilemmas teens face when it comes to setting boundaries… and then keeping them. The overall message of the book is valuable. Stay pure. It’s worth it.

What I Dislike: The gymnastics practice schedule seems unrealistic to me. Gymnasts I know train for at least four hours a day. Serious contenders have a more rigorous schedule. Plus it’s a bit of a stretch (no pun intended) to think a high school senior could make the Olympic team (as Laurel desires to do), without a more intense and elite training program. Moreover, such focus usually dictates the athlete does not attend a public school, but must instead hire a private tutor.

Overall Rating: Very good. I told my daughter she should read it when she was fourteen. (Right now, I believe the scenes give details she’s not mature enough to read just yet.)

Age Appeal: Young adult (but better suited for ages fourteen plus)

Publisher Info: Moody Publishers, 2002; ISBN: 978-0-8024-4035-8; Paperback, 239 pages, $7.99

Buy it Now at for $5.99

OR Buy it at for $7.19.

OR Buy a kindle copy for $4.19.

Special Info: Read other CCBR reviews of books by this author. Also, parents should note that this book contains under-age drinking and premarital sex (resulting in HIV and unwanted pregnancy). Sex is not described in the book, but is discussed by the characters.

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