STARRED REVIEW
February 2020

Not So Pure and Simple

By Lamar Giles
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Del has had a crush on Kiera for forever. So when Kiera joins a group at First Missionary Church and takes a purity pledge—promising to abstain from sex until marriage—Del stands up and joins, too. The pledge group will have classes and activities together, so it’ll be a great way for Del to spend time with Kiera, right? Between working at his fast-food job and secretly running a sexual-health Q&A service, Del throws himself into memorizing scripture—and dodging questions about his romantic escapades, about which he’s been intentionally lying for years. 

Two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles tells two stories at once in Not So Pure and Simple. One is a comedy of errors, as Del’s attempts to spend time alone with Kiera go increasingly awry. The other is a story of whether clever schemes are the best way for a young man to get closer to a young woman. Where does the line fall between appropriate and inappropriate attention? 

When Del’s sister’s YouTube channel becomes a social media sensation amid online pushback against the prevailing discourse surrounding a series of local teen pregnancies, Del realizes he may not be alone in having some learning to do. Perhaps First Missionary Church and Del’s small-town community could all benefit from a shift in perspective.

Dialogue between Del and his father, older sister and other characters gives readers a view of gender politics from balanced perspectives without interfering with Del’s authentic narrative voice. Sharp readers will find Easter egg references to some of Giles’ favorite contemporary books and authors embedded in the text, providing pointers for what to read next. 

Giles successfully integrates social justice themes into Del’s story while maintaining a genuinely engaging and often hilarious tone.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Lamar Giles talks toxic masculinity, teen sex ed classes and his love for ’80s rock ballads.

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Not So Pure and Simple

Not So Pure and Simple

By Lamar Giles
HarperTeen
ISBN 9780062349194

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