Cover image for Not so pure and simple
Not so pure and simple
First edition.
Physical Description:
389 pages ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
Ages 13 up. HarperTeen.

Grades 10-12. HarperTeen.
Geographic Term:
High school junior Del Rainey unwittingly joins a Purity Pledge class at church, hoping to get closer to his long-term crush, Kiera.


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An Indie Next List Pick!

In his first contemporary teen novel, critically acclaimed author and two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles spotlights the consequences of societal pressure, confronts toxic masculinity, and explores the complexity of what it means 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 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?

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--Del Rainey attends church with his mother just to get close to his crush, Kiera Westing. When Kiera and other teens approach the altar during a service, he jumps up to join the youth group so he can spend more time with Kiera. Del realizes he just became a Purity Pledger, committed to staying "sexually pure" until marriage. Jameer, another Purity Pledger, promises to help Del connect with Kiera in exchange for the one thing Pledgers don't have--access to accurate information about sexual health. Del is the only one taking Healthy Living at school; the pastor won't allow his young parishioners to enroll. This happens right after a spate of teen pregnancies in town. Local media called it a pregnancy pact, though it was actually the result of multiple snow days and boredom. One of the girls tires of being labeled a "Baby-Getter" and calls out her child's father on social media, demanding accountability for the fathers and less focus on the mothers. Without being didactic, this story explores expectations around gender roles and calls out toxic behaviors that even "good guys" are guilty of. The impact of social media, religion, and adults' handling of these issues is also examined. The narrative successfully integrates all of these elements into a compelling story of young people sorting through conflicting messages and social pressures around sexuality and relationships. The characters and their reactions to various situations are realistically complicated, creating a believable, relatable story. VERDICT A powerful first purchase for any library serving teens.--Carla Riemer, Albany High School, CA

Publisher's Weekly Review

High schooler Del Rainey has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten, but Kiera has "never been single. Nev. Er." When she suddenly experiences a breakup, though, he's determined to give things a go, inadvertently signing up for their church's Purity Pledge group alongside her, an eight-week program offering "a thorough review of why Jesus wants me to abstain." Though he's a virgin, Del has a reputation for being a player at school, and Kiera won't entertain his clumsy advances. Meanwhile, Del navigates being the guy who has to ask awkward questions in the sex ed class the other Purity Pledgers aren't allowed to take amid rumors about the Baby-Getters Club--a supposed pact among some of the girls at school to get pregnant at the same time. With true-to-life characters and a straightforward handling of sex, including often ignored aspects of male sexuality, Giles's thoughtful, hilarious read offers a timely viewpoint on religion, toxic masculinity, and teen sexuality. Ages 13--up. Agent: Jamie Weiss Chilton, Andrea Brown Literary. (Jan.)

Kirkus Review

Teen boy gets hard lessons on dating, friendship, and toxic masculinity.Delbert Rainey Jr. has never been great at dating. He's been in love with the same girl since kindergartenKiera Westingbut has never made a move. And despite his legendary reputation, thanks to an infamous basement party, he is still a virgin. When Kiera and her boyfriend break up, Del seizes the opportunity, even if it means accidentally joining the First Missionary House of the Lord's Purity Pledge, created after nine teens at Green Creek High School became pregnant, sparking pregnancy pact conspiracy theories. Additionally, the high school has changed its abstinence-only sex ed elective, and Del, enrolled by his parents, is surprised to see parallelsbut with advice framed as polar opposites. Del's naivet and missteps are wonderful character flaws, and readers will laugh out loud as he plays spy in his high school class for his fellow Purity Pledgers. When a teen mom fights back at the Baby-Getters Club label they've been given and creates her own hashtag, members of the community, including Del, have to face up to the double standards and inappropriate behavior boys get away with and are even encouraged in. The novel takes on teen attitudes toward sex and relationships and gender power dynamics in a way that is appealing and thought provoking. Main characters are black.Hilariously necessary. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Del Rainey and his best friend, Qwan, are known for their sexual conquests and wild times with girls in town. Even so, he's always had his eye set on Kiera Westing the hottest and most unavailable girl at school. So when Del sees an opportunity to spend time with Kiera, he doesn't care that that time will be spent taking purity pledge classes at church. Even though he had no intention of being pure, Del finds himself challenged and stretched to check his own behavior toward girls as he spends more time with the Purity Pledgers. What he thought would be a surefire way into Kiera's heart becomes an experience that reveals just how toxic his own behavior toward women is. Readers will find themselves rooting for Del because he's such a likeable character, but a shocking event will illuminate just how poor his decisions have been to date. This title grapples with the many ways that toxic masculinity drives the actions of people, from the pastor's love of public shaming to Del's inability to accept no as an answer from girls. With a fresh perspective, Giles takes care to flesh out his full cast of characters, creating an intricate, multifaceted web of misogyny and its detrimental impact.--Melanie Kirkwood Copyright 2020 Booklist