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 kindergarten—Kiera Westing—but 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 parallels—but with advice framed as polar opposites. Del’s naiveté 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)