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Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

Not So Pure and Simple (edition 2020)

by Lamar Giles (Author)

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645301,978 (4.08)None
High school junior Del Rainey unwittingly joins a Purity Pledge class at church, hoping to get closer to his long-term crush, Kiera.
Title:Not So Pure and Simple
Authors:Lamar Giles (Author)
Info:Quill Tree Books (2020), 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:ownvoices, african american, romance, chastity, sex education, LGBTQ, church, consent, honest, male protagonist, male narrator

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Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles



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RGG: Timely YA male perspective about male-female relationships. Role of the Church might be problematic for some. And at times a bit didatic. But a fun read. Reading Interest: 14-YA
  rgruberhighschool | May 15, 2020 |
RGG: Timely YA male perspective about male-female relationships. Role of the Church might be problematic for some. And at times a bit didatic. But a fun read. Reading Interest: 14-YA
  rgruberexcel | May 15, 2020 |
Narrated by Korey Jackson. Del inadvertently signs on for a Purity Pledge class at church in an attempt to impress Kiera, his crush. One would expect hilarity and hijinx as a result of this elaborate ruse, but as the title says, it's not so pure and simple. The book explores several complex sexual themes and their nuances: teenage pregnancy, locker room attitudes, virginity, consent, harassment, and being gay. It does so with honesty, humor, and occasionally raw dialogue. (They are teens after all!) Any pedantic notes are slight, making this lively novel accessible and relatable. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Apr 24, 2020 |
Lamar Giles has written YA thrillers and middle-grade books, all featuring characters that "look like me, like the ones I didn't see in books I read growing up." His view of the hazardous lives of young black people and all the threats they face down every day also recognizes the necessity for supportive friendships and the crucial roles played by wise adults. This novel fully inhabits the Green Creek, Virginia small town world of high school "pregnancy pacts" and lack of sex education facts. Del, a junior, fries cardboard fish at a local Long John Silver clone fast food joint and has been yearning after classmate Kiera ever since he played the Cowardly Lion to her Dorothy in kindergarten. He joins "Purity Pledge", a church group run by a dictatorial old school minister, with the sole intent of getting close to Kiera. Both teens carry loaded secrets, as do the teenage mothers who find their return to school filled with obstacles and social shaming. Although the students all boast of their sexual prowess and experience, when a sex education class allows for their anonymous questions, the cool teacher in charge is astounded by their misconceptions. He's eager to provide help, but the minister does not approve, and Del is caught between. Del's sister, a feminist and rising blogger, comes through for him with critical advice and respect. There’s plenty of great dialogue, humor, and some fine plot twists within, and the ending makes the reader hope to rejoin Del and his friends as adults.

Quote: “Purity Pledge? As in the sworn denial of any physical urges or pleasure to please a patriarchal oppressor?” ( )
  froxgirl | Feb 5, 2020 |

Del Rainey signs up for a Purity Pledge at church to be closer to his longtime crush, Kiera Westing, but even with the help of Kiera's next-door neighbor, Jameer, Del isn't making progress. The Purity Pledge, in many ways, runs counter to the new Healthy Living (sex ed) class at school, which is taught by Del's favorite teacher, and which Pastor Newsome has encouraged his congregants to avoid. Del is the only Pledger taking the class, so the other Pledgers funnel all their questions to him.

Del is the narrator, so the reader is rooting for him for most of the novel. But eventually, with the help of his older sister Cressie's YouTube show, Del's perspective shifts, and the reader's shifts with it (if it didn't already). Del becomes aware of male entitlement and the double standard - one that's especially problematic in their small town of Green Creek, VA, where a crop of teenage pregnancies drew negative attention for the mothers ("Baby-Getters") and no accountability for the fathers.


Can you be hurt and numb at the same time? Something like agony mixed with that shot the dentist gives you so you can't feel your mouth. (201)

"Examine, evaluate, extrapolate....Examine all your current options. Evaluate the pros and cons of each. Extrapolate each pro and con out one year, three years, and five years to determine the possible results. Thinking about [hard decisions] that hard, that clinically, will make things so much clearer." (Jaylan to Pledgers, 270)

"These are scary stories, but also entitlement stories. In every one of them a man felt entitled to a woman's time, attention, body....No space is safe where toxic male energy is permitted, or simply invades. But, we all knew that, didn't we? It's the other gender that seems ignorant to their toxic colonization of a woman's right to breathe, and sunshine, and solace." (Cressie, 334)

"It's hard to talk to you two about anything. You're never really concerned about what we think, or do, beyond half-assed criticism....I know what it's like for a woman. Doesn't matter age, looks, what we wear, where we go. There's always danger, because of, well, you." (Mom to Del and Dad, 338)

"I know it hurts when someone you like doesn't feel the same way, Del. I'm sorry your pain drove you to react badly." (Sister Vanessa, 345)

"Whatever her reasons, we don't have to understand them. She gets to make her own decisions." (Cressie to Del, 357)

"It's okay if you're scared about anything in your life. It's not okay to lie and manipulate to hide those fears." (Del, 365)

"Notice how you get most mad when the truth is something you don't like?" (MJ to Del, 389) ( )
  JennyArch | Jan 23, 2020 |
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Pastor Newsome's rules for First Missionary House of the Lord were simple. Every head bowed (mine wasn't) and every eye closed (nope) while he went on and on with his crazy freestyle prayers.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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