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Book Review: Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

* I am reviewing this book which I was gifted for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. *

Title: Not So Pure and Simple
Author: Lamar Giles
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher


Book Summary:

An Indie Next List Pick!

In his first contemporary teen novel, critically acclaimed author and two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles spotlights the consequences of societal pressure, confronts toxic masculinity, and explores the complexity of what it means to be a “real man.”

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?

Book Review:

When I first saw Not So Pure and Simple to review, I was obviously attracted to the cover because it is obviously stunning but also it has a great premise. It is safe to say that the book goes beyond the cover, offering an easy to read book with a premise that directly tackles toxic masculinity.

I think for a start, there is so much to say about this book. It tackles so much about religion, masculinity and sexuality and it does so in about 400 pages. Not only does it do it: it does it so well. I think the thing that captured me the most, is the focus on sexuality. A lot of the book, it focused on characters taking a purity pact as part of a church and I think this was so important to cover especially to what it uncovers.

The first part is Del's sister who creates sociology based Youtube channel that deals with sexuality as a result of how women are often shamed in society, important as students in Del's school had a chain of teenage pregnancies and are as a result demonised by the town. The way that the book addresses these issues is done well and I think that it grows Del as a character so much. Also, I loved Del's sister so much and I thought that the progression of her Youtube channel was believable.

The second part is the sex education element which did really show links to the TV show as it highlighted the clueless nature of teenagers and showed so many links to masculinity that I also liked it. It also leads to an ending that I really liked, even though it was a bit cheesy.

This also leads to so much discussion about masculinity and Del discovers so much about himself when trying to get the girl and how masculinity is treated in society. It definitely tries to combat these ideas which again were great to end about. I also liked the relationships in this book, as it showed so complicated love can be and how it really can be staring you in the face all along.

All of this is tried into a religion which I always like to read about in books as I am not religious and it is interesting to read about it. This is linked to the purity pact that I mentioned before and often the complicated notions that happen with it and that it is not so pure and simple. (I'm sorry I couldn't help myself.)

This also leads to some great friendships in the book and some funny moments which I did laugh out loud too. I think on the whole I liked most of the characters and it was a good time. I also liked that Del was a complex character and he often makes mistakes but I think that he goes on a journey where he learns from them and I think that it is great to see this because teenagers make mistakes. That's life.

I also really liked the writing, I found that it was very fast-paced and it flowed really well and I just wanted to keep reading. Also, on a random note, the book features Del as he works in a drive-thru for part of the book and from experience, I can say that it is accurate. The book does also follow story beats but I definitely like that Del is put through a little bit of turmoil as I think that it made him grow a lot as a character.

I think that often I am so used to reading about a character's not labelling their race and assuming that they are white but the book flips this and the main characters are read as black which I really liked and I hope that this becomes more normal.

The Verdict:

Not So Pure and Simple is a book that went under a lot of people's radars but is a must-read tackling important topics that should be more widely discussed in YA.

Have you read Not So Pure and Simple? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments below. 


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