Del Rainey has had a thing for his schoolmate, Keira, for as long as he can remember. However, she’s never been single for Del to make his move. What Del knows for certain is that he wants Keira to know just how he feels about her, but trying to get her to acknowledge him is an entirely different ball game. Keira’s family are church royalty and Del has to play the part, even if it means accidently joining the Purity Pledge at First Missionary Church. Just how one accidentally ends up being part of an 8-week Purity Pledge? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.
Lamar Giles gives readers a likeable main character in the form of Del. Del is relatable in the sense that you’re likely to have met a Del in your lifetime. or perhaps you even find a little bit of yourself in Del. Either way, he makes for a great character with a lot of personality who’s a delight to read about. From the moment the book begins, you can’t help but be interested in what Del is going to be doing. He is funny (without even seeming to realize it) and he is genuinely, a good guy. However, while Del does his best to do what’s right by him and others, he does find himself entangled with a lot of the gossip and happenings at his high school; much like many teenagers. However, in Del’s quest to woo the girl he’s loved forever and navigate the often times hostile world of high school, Del is made to confront truths about himself and others that he’s never considered.
Thanks to his sister Cressie’s YouTube channel where she confronts rampant issues of harassment, consent, and toxic masculinity, Del finds that many of the young men he’s grown up with suffer from some of the same problems – and in turn, realizes that even he has displayed problematic behaviour as it pertains to his decisions with Keira, and some of the judgments and things he thought about the girls at Greek Creek High who were part of the so-called ‘Baby-Getters Club’. Having to make some tough choices, Del knows that he must confront and tackle his behaviour, hoping to set things right, and perhaps, others might learn a thing or two from his example.
Not So Pure And Simple vastly shows the difference in how Cressie points out Del’s indiscretions in juxtaposition to how someone like Pastor Newsome tries to right the wrongs of what he believed to be problematic (i.e. sex before marriage, being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, teenage pregnancy, etc). On one hand you have Cressie who provides Del with examples, including sharing one of her own personal stories with her brother to help him see what is going on, and what many young women have been victim to. Ultimately, what she wants is to help him learn to be a better man. However, you have Pastor Newsome whose methods rely on publicly shaming the young people who are part of his congregation when they do anything he believes goes against any church preachings. All the while playing a huge part in the toxic masculinity that is running rampant throughout Greek Creek and beyond.
Giles delivers a poignant contemporary YA novel with his latest release, Not So Pure And Simple. Within the books pages, Giles tackles a plethora of topics from church going (and not wanting to go), to teen sex lives and pregnancy, to the bonds of family and friendship. The novel also tackles toxic masculinity and women’s rights. So, in short, Not So Pure And Simple has it all, and it’s all so well done! From the moment I read the first page, I was hooked. I enjoyed the current pop culture references from comic books to important authors, and Issa Rae rooting for everybody Black. However, what I enjoyed the most was how Giles tackled each important subject with immediacy, and the narrative showed a myriad of ways to combating toxic masculinity, homophobia, gossip and other problematic behaviours. While the novel showed that many of these behaviours are learned and they form a pattern for many people, it also showed that people can unlearn these habits if they are willing to change and improve themselves. All of this is delivered with an earnestness and wittiness I haven’t experienced while reading a book in a long time.
Not So Pure And Simple is a fantastic read and is available for purchase now where books are sold, including: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, and Hudson Booksellers. It is also available in digital format.
Be sure to give Not So Pure And Simple a read, you definitely don’t want to miss out!