Review: Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles


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Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.
His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.
With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

I’m going to really struggle to write this review because heck, this was the most frustrating read. I started listening to it on audio and picked up the physical copy for the second half. The tone of this book was funny, easy to read and super quick. But I really, really didn’t like the main character, Del, for the vast majority of the story. He was sexist, made a lot of questionable comments about women, seemed to have an oversexualised view of women in general, and spent most of his time pining after a girl who obviously wasn’t interested. This does develop throughout the book and his views do change, but the redemption arc was a bit too little, too late for my liking.

The tone of this book was definitely centered towards teenage boys – which is great, because there is really not enough YA contemporary fiction out there for them. But although I could understand a lot of why Del thought the way he did, I definitely couldn’t relate to it in the same way I imagine a teenage boy might. There was a lot of mentions of porn, masturbation and women, which just really frustrated me in places.

I’d told the truth.

Although the plot and premise of the book also made me uncomfortable in places, it was fun and interesting to read about. I found the depiction of religion was very up-and-down, but I liked how it wasn’t portrayed particularly negatively and centered around the idea that there is space in the church for everyone. However, some characters, one in particular, didn’t face consequences for their actions which disappointed me.

I really enjoyed the dialogue and the found-family feel the friendship group had, which is one of my favourite tropes. Some of the surrounding characters, including Del’s sister Cressie, were very well written and diverse. Although they are obviously in the story to teach Del, they didn’t feel shoehorned in. They also felt like well-rounded characters in their own right, with different qualities and interests.

That shouldn’t be wrong, but the truth could be a weapon depending on who used it

This book feels very needed and I would love to see teenage boys picking this up, as I feel like it has a lot to teach. The plot is engaging and I really flew through the book. The narrative is sharp and witty and the friendships are portrayed really well. There was a lot to like, but sadly also a bit to dislike, which is where I am on the fence. This is definitely one you need to really stick with to have a satisfying outcome, but I did appreciate the way it ended.

3.5 out of 5 stars


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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