Book: Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles, Narrated by Korey Jackson
Published January 2020 by Quill Tree Books|Length: 11 hours
Where I Got It: I own the audio book
Genre: YA Contemporary
Two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles delivers his first contemporary YA—an eye-opening novel that spotlights societal pressures, confronts toxic masculinity, and asks the question: What does it mean 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 himself up for a Purity Pledge. His best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe anyone is worth this long of a 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, but with other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move now. However, with all his plotting and scheming, Del never really stops to think: What does Kiera want? No matter, though—once he gets the girl, he’s sure all will sort itself out. Right?
I really liked Not So Pure And Simple! I liked Del, though he has a lot to learn. But I really enjoyed his story, and seeing him change and grow.
Del has a lot to learn. He’s not forgiving of Kiera, when he’s being pretty dishonest himself, holding her to a completely different standard. I felt like he had her on a pedestal, and that came crashing down. I felt like he never took the time to get to know her as a person, and that he was into the illusion of her but not her as a person. It sucks when your crush doesn’t respond the way you want them to or doesn’t feel the same way. I get why he was angry and frustrated and everything else. But Kiera is a real person with real feelings- and was definitely not the person Del thought she was.
Was Del frustrating at times? Absolutely! He wouldn’t leave her alone, had this odd obsession with her and jumped through all kinds of hoops when he could have been more straightforward. There were times when I felt like Del was that guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer. I was a little frustrated by the couple of times we see male characters not seeing women as people until they learned a female they were close to was hurt by a guy. It’s sad that’s what it took for what that to happen, but hopefully, it was a wake-up call to be better and to treat all women better.
I really think Del started to learn from it, and I hope he continues to learn AND listen to the women in his life. Hopefully, he’ll have more conversations with his sister and Cheyanne, and they’ll continue to be honest and call him if they think he needs it. I like that toxic masculinity came up, and that we need to recognize it in ourselves and others, and speak up when we see it in others.
One thing that was interesting in the book was how sex education in Del’s school was very much influenced by the pastor. It was frustrating, because not everyone has parents who will talk about reproduction, sex and birth control with them- it seemed like the healthy living class was the only way for some of these kids to get any information about their bodies. And even then, they directed their questions to Jameer so Del could ask the questions in class.
I was really surprised that there was a flyer on the door, and that nothing seemed to go home to the parents, because Del’s parents were definitely surprised that the class wasn’t a thing anymore. It’s sad, because the kids suffer and the parents know nothing about what’s going on. I feel like that’s something the school should have told them, but that’s just me. You really see what happens when sex ed isn’t a priority, and I feel like it would have been good for these kids.
It really is a good read, and one I think we should all read. As a woman, I’m not at all surprised by what a lot of the girls experienced, and maybe, just maybe, seeing things through Del’s eyes will be good for at least some of the people picking this book up.
I also thought Korey Jackson was a great narrator. I feel like I always say that, and that I always say that the narrator brought the characters to life. But it really is true most of the time, and it is the case for this book. I don’t know that I’ll be seeking out other books narrated by Jackson, but I wouldn’t mind listening to another book narrated by him.
4 stars. I really liked this book, and I’m definitely going to take a look at Giles’ other books because of how he handled some of the more serious issues in this book.