A book that explores masculinity, sexuality, religion and friendship, this story was full of surprises.
The story is about a teen called Del who has a crush on a girl from school. His mum has recently started going to church and his crush, Kiera also goes to the church. He is not very attentive in church and in one of his far away moments he accidently joins the purity pledge group.
The story develops in lots of different ways. However, Del, his journey of discovery about girls, his own behaviour, the double standards that are around him and what true friendship and honesty really look like remain central and make for compelling reading.
There were several times in the book when I completely despaired of Del and his narrow attitude to the world around him, but overall, he is a really strong character. Now that doesn’t mean that you will necessarily like him. He is full of himself, selfish, arrogant and entitled. His crush on Kierra is obsessive and you wonder what does he actually know about this girl that he claims to be in love with?
The story looks at the role of the church in influencing the sexual decisions of young people, what that looks like when church leaders have their own agenda and how that conflicts with schools and their agenda.
There is a really strong message in this book about male entitlement and the impact that has on women and the laughter in the book does not take away the seriousness of this message.
This book does not go where you think it will go in many ways which really adds to the enjoyment of the book. It's a story of the questions teens ad some adults are afraid ask but shouldn't be, a tale of mixed, misread, and missing messages.
Easily engaging and down-to-earth, this is the type of book that belongs in schools and the hands of young men as an opening to what toxic masculinity looks like. There are not many books that look at sex and masculinity from the point of view of a teen black male and so this book should be celebrated everywhere.
As an ex youth worker, I could see so many of my young people in the characters and I did find myself chuckling at their behaviour and mischievousness.
Everybody needs to hear the conversations it will spark.
I did enjoy the book, it made me laugh out loud a couple of times. I think those who have a knowledge of church may find it funnier as there are a few “in jokes” there.
It is worth the read and definitely worth buying as a gift for the teens in your life as they will definitely be able to relate to the characters and their dilemmas.