Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles
For a story that’s equal parts funny and heartfelt, for a truly lovable main character, for lessons learned that made me want to fist pump for breaking the archetypes with the straight truth
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?
The easiest way I can review this is to say I’ll definitely be seeking out more of Lamar Giles’ books!
I’ve seen in my reading data lately that I read WAY more books by women than by men. And most of the time, the character perspective I’m reading from is a woman as well. This is for me a rarity in that it’s a book by a guy and from a guy’s perspective. A STRAIGHT guy, no less – even rarer for me. 😂 This might seem unimportant, but it was honestly so interesting to see a situation through a male lens rather than female. The voice was so different, and there were a lot of thoughts and decisions that I would never have even considered, that I do attest at least in part to it being from a man (well.. boy) and not a woman. It was a fascinating change from my usual, and really entertaining (and maybe even informative??)
The crux of the story is that Del is trying to Get The Girl, Kiera, whom he’s had a crush on forever. But she’s always been in a relationship until now, and he’s looking to make his move. Unfortunately, he somehow makes his first move by joining an abstinence pledge with her and a few others at church. Which he is decidedly not intending to do: just look at his reputation as a wild sex-having playboy.
There is some annoyance in this plot in the way dude feels entitled to “get the girl” and that if he just finds the right combination of things to do and say and pretend to be, she’ll fall in love with him. I don’t love that vibe for the male entitlement of it, but also because he’s faking who he is in order to be loved, and I hate that he thinks that’s what he’s worth. The resolution of it all was really satisfying though, and I was cheering for sure. There’s a lot of growth and genuinely sweet moments in this, couched with boyish mischievousness.
The way the religious aspect of this was handled was tactful and respectful as well. Although he goes into it feeling pretty unimpressed with it, it’s not written in a way to tear down religion or those who want to save sex for marriage. It’s a pretty balanced look at all of it, and I thought that was a nice touch as well because it can be easy to slam too far either way.
There are some side stories alongside the main one with Del, and they were fleshed out enough to add meaning to the characters and overall story. I also appreciated that Kiera became a character with her own thoughts and opinions and not just the prize being attained. She was also wonderful anyway ^.^