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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Comic, satirical novel meant to entertain. Some discussions of coming out, importance of consent, need for instructive sex education, risks of unprotected sex.
Use your own values as the compass for your behavior. Don't compromise what you believe for short-term gain, and don't be swayed by people's agendas.
Positive Role Models
All main characters are African American high schoolers and their families. Del's older sister Cressie uses her YouTube channel and college research in sociology to raise other people's voices and foster important conversations when no one else will. Among the adult characters, one father encourages his teen son to have sex and gives him condoms. Some parents supposed to be supervising a teen party are upstairs drinking margaritas while the teens are downstairs having sex.
Violence & Scariness
A few descriptions of assaults, including a boy who throws hot coffee on a girl who refuses to give him her name and phone number. References to sexual assaults, not described. A girl escapes from a situation where a boy has her trapped in a private area and she fears being sexually assaulted. A boy punches another boy in the eye in a rivalry over a girl.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Book is mostly a humorous send-up of adult hysteria about teen sexuality. Some wonderfully sensitive discussions about consent, coming out, sexual pleasure between consenting people, plus in-depth dialogue about how boys and girls see things differently. But many characters ultimately get rewarded for risky sexual behavior. Multiple girls have babies. Pregnancy scare owing to unprotected sex. A dad implies that his son ought to be getting some sexual action. Raising a baby as a teen is presented in a light, sometimes glamorous, manner. Some kids lie about having sex, others about not having sex.
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Infrequent use of profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole," and somewhat frequent use of word "d--k," both as an insult and as a reference to the body part.
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Products & Purchases
Social media figures prominently in the plot. Many mentions of specific brands, including YouTube, Instagram, MacBook, iPad, and FaceTime, which are often distracting, where a generic reference like "She opened her laptop" would have seemed more natural.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A scene where teens sneak away from their parents and drink wine. A scene where parents who are supposed to be supervising a teen party are upstairs drinking margaritas while teens are downstairs having sex.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Not So Pure and Simple is about high school junior Del, who's dealing with a world that increasingly revolves around sex. There was a rash of pregnancies among girls in his school, rumored to have been driven by a pact. Then the girls who gave birth started releasing YouTube videos outing the boys who are the fathers. Because of this, the school reconsiders its abstinence-only sex ed curriculum and replaces it with a class called "Healthy Life." In response to that, a local pastor creates a "Purity Pledge" group, for teens who promise to stay virgins (or stop having sex if they'd started). Meanwhile, Del's dad presses a condom on his son "just in case," subtly encouraging him to be a "ladies' man." And Del joins the purity club just to get closer to a girl he's infatuated with. It's mentioned in one scene that teens are playing sexual party games while the parents are on another floor of the house, drinking margaritas instead of supervising the party. There are a few descriptions of assaults, including a boy who throws hot coffee on a girl who refuses to give him her name and phone number. There are references to sexual assaults that are not described. A girl escapes from a situation where a boy has her trapped in a private area and she fears being sexually assaulted. A boy punches another boy in the eye in a rivalry over a girl. There's infrequent use of profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole," and frequent use of the word "d--k," both as an insult and as a reference to the body part. There are frequent, gratuitous mentions of consumer brands, including Instagram, Google, MacBook, FaceTime, and YouTube.
Is It Any Good?
This is a hilarious, honest examination of the hysteria surrounding that stage of life when teens discover sexuality. Lamar Miles (Fake ID and Endangered) creates many realistic and sympathetic characters in Not So Pure and Simple, even lovable foils who never become two-dimensional villains. The book is most suitable for mature, older teens, due to a lot of sexual content and focus on sexual activity with mixed messages about consequences. Many of the kids are sexually active. One storyline is that nine girls in the school got pregnant because kids were bored at home during a storm. By naming the fathers, the girls fight back against the shaming leveled at them. However, this empowerment message downplays the magnitude of all these babies born to teens. In addition, some of the satire about the influence of the church on the school and the peer pressure by church members on one another may go over the head of some teen readers.
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Our Editors Recommend
Books to Help Teens Understand the Importance of Consent
Books About Funny Misfit Teens
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