Review of Not So Pure and Simple

Not So Pure and Simple
by Lamar Giles
High School    HarperTeen    391 pp.
1/20    978-0-06-234919-4    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-234921-7    $9.99

Del’s forever crush on schoolmate Kiera comes to a head when she finally becomes single in their junior year of high school. Del is poised to do whatever it takes to win her over, even if it means (inadvertently) joining their church’s Purity Pledge group. There is hope, however, from Kiera’s friend Jameer, who strikes a deal with Del: Jameer will put in a good word with Kiera in exchange for Del providing him with information from the sex ed class Jameer isn’t allowed to take. Del accepts the challenge, but soon begins to realize that his journey into Kiera’s heart is not going to be as easy as he thought. With realism and humor, Giles paints the complicated, messy reality that many teens face in navigating sexuality, relationships, and the conflicting messages they receive from society. Toxic masculinity is explored, juxtaposed with the sexual double standards that are applied to young women. The church abstinence-group setting, too, effectively highlights the ways religious suppression can exacerbate the very issues it seeks to resolve. Del’s learning experiences lead him into enlightening realizations. Though these do not come without many mishaps and misunderstandings, they eventually guide him to unpacking his one-way, self-centered focus on Kiera and to consider that his feelings may not be reciprocated.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Monique Harris

Monique Harris is a public educator, reading specialist and independent educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons University, and is enrolled in a PhD program at Florida State University.

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