Are death-bed promises meant to be forever?
For the last six years, 16-year-old Shelby has been living according to the “Promises” she made to her mother as she was dying of breast cancer: 1. listen to her father; 2. love as much as possible; and 3. live without restraint. When her father becomes an organizer of the town’s father-daughter Princess Ball, in which daughters pledge a purity vow, she wonders how she can keep Promise 3 if she’s bound by Promise 1. In this achingly realistic story, the teen realizes that losing her virginity before the ball will negate the purity vow. Best friend Jonas, keeper of her Life List, reluctantly helps with her search for a one-night stand. Shelby’s biting, irreverent first-person narration (“I’m about to try to sleep with Jesus from a Proactiv commercial”) finely blends the humor and pain of her situation. During her quest, she also finds herself confronting unresolved feelings about her mother’s passing (why are her guiding Promises now hurting her?), her belief system (why won’t God let her in on his plan?) and her strained relationship with her father (could he be just as sad as she is?). Perhaps she’s always had some of the answers, in the neglected Promise and the guy right in front of her.
A purely satisfying look at mourning and sexuality—and even their connection. (Fiction. 15 & up)