Book Review: Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

  Not So Pure and Simple  by Lamar Giles Genre:  YA Romance Synopsis:   Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And n...


Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

Genre: YA Romance

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?

Content/Trigger Warnings: misogyny, sexual assault/harassment, manipulation, slut shaming

Overall rating:  ★★★★☆

And here I am again, having the highest hopes for books and feeling underwhelmed and slightly disappointed. Not So Pure and Simple isn’t a BAD book. It’s good in so many ways. But I really had a hard time liking the MC. He’s the worst part of the book, and when it’s from someone’s POV, it’s hard not being on their side. I mean holy hell, the You series makes Joe, a sociopathic manipulative murderer/stalker, a character I find myself rooting for!

Del is condescending and entitled, and for what? He seems to think Kiera, his crush, owes him something or that he “deserves to have her.” It’s infuriating. I’m not a teenage boy, nor have I ever been a teenage boy, so maybe this has something to do with hormones and being clueless. There are so many things that girls and women have to suffer through and deal with, and this book touches on those points - it definitely does. And those were the parts of the book that seemed most important. Those were the parts of the books that I really loved.

"Sometimes I think simple hurts worse. So people make stuff complicated because there's more ways to toss around blame."

For example, I loved almost all the females in this book. They’re strong and mostly stick up for/advocate for themselves in many ways. I particularly loved Del’s sister. She was badass and everything I wish I could be. I really connected with the female perspective in this book and found it really difficult to be in a teenage boy’s head. The book is almost entirely about female looks, their bodies, their hair, etc. It was exhausting. Unrelated to gender, I found it problematic that an Asian character in the book was called “Simpson’s yellow.” Not okay.

As for Del, while he does have some character development, I didn’t feel his development was quiet as strong as it could’ve been and I would have liked to see.

I think maybe I read a lot of books with female MCs or books with male MCs written by women, it was hard for me to process a book written by a male for young men. I do think this book has a target audience that isn’t me, and I struggled with that. I was frustrated by Del and felt overwhelmed with his personality and “boyish” ways.

But this isn’t a bad book. It’s written wonderfully. There were many moments of tears and laughter. I’d definitely read more Lamar Giles, but maybe this time I’d go in prepared and knowing what to expect.

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