Author: Kody Keplinger
Genre: Teen Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: September 5, 2011
ISBN-13 Book: 9780316175562
Source: I checked out a copy of this book from my local library. This is my honest review!
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lissa is sick and tired of the rivalry between the boys’ football team and the boys’ soccer team taking precedence over her relationship with Randy. She is tired of both teams trying to one up each other with pranks, and she is worried that someone will end up seriously injured. In an act of desperation, Lissa enlists all the girlfriends of the boys on the football and soccer teams to participate in a sex strike until the rivalry ends. Little does Lissa know what a hornets nest she is about to stir up.
I will admit this book surprised me. As a rule, I am not a realistic fiction fan, and while this book won’t change that opinion, it definitely has more depth and insight than the premise would give it credit for.
I think to adequately write this review, I need to mention that the premise was a bit uncomfortable for me in the beginning. I live in a conservative community, and I know that this book is a possible wave maker. In my community, parents don’t want to even think about teens having sex, let alone find it in their books, but I found this book to be about so much more than sex.
I found myself wishing there were books like this one when I was a teen. Not so much the rivalry aspect, but the frank discussion that the characters began to have about sex and female sexuality. This novel isn’t pushing sex, or even advocating it for teens. There are no graphic scenes of sex, just some plain speaking and honest talk about sexual experiences, or in the case of a few characters, the choice to wait. I loved how honest the characters were. One girl loves sex and the power she feels over her own body. Another girl has sex with her boyfriend, but doesn’t enjoy it. One girl has chosen to wait for the right time to have sex, and still another isn’t sure she ever wants to have sex. I loved how Keplinger explored the different aspects and opinions, and leaves the girls feeling that there is no wrong choice as long as you do what is right for you and your body. I love how she empowers the characters.
The actual rivalry in the story pales in comparison to the message Keplinger is sending teens. Even the budding romance between a couple of the characters takes a back seat to the frank conversations this novel demonstrates. The characterizations aren’t as fully developed as I would like, some prominent characters come across as rather flat and predictable, but ultimately that doesn’t matter. The story and the experiences of the characters is what teen girls need to hear.
While this book isn’t going to make the lists for the literary awards it is original and the message of empowering women and teen girls will definitely find an audience. Librarians, be prepared to defend this one, but I do recommend this book for libraries—I wish it had been around when I was a teen.
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