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Shut Out Kindle Edition
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|Length: 277 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Plot summary: The football and soccer teams at Hamilton High have had an ongoing rivalry for about a decade-- what started out as tame, summer camp-y pranks have now become more intense, to the point where players are getting injured. And the players' girlfriends, particularly starting quarterback Randy's girlfriend Lissa, are sick of it. (Also because their boyfriends rank the rivalry above their respective relationships.) So, brought together by Lissa with the help of her best friend Chloe, the soccer team girlfriends and football team girlfriends all make a pact to withhold sex until this feud comes to an end. Obviously, drama and some hilarity ensue.
Here are some of my favorite things about "Shut Out:"
-- Chloe, Lissa's best friend and sort of "first lieutenant" in the assembly of the girlfriends. She's fiercely loyal, blunt/fairly crude, and has sex, well, "like a guy," by societal standards. She's multi-dimensional--- she's more than just that token slutty girl. She's comic relief while also having her deeper moments. She's not ashamed of who she is and what she does. In a society where slut-shaming is still a thing, I'm glad Chloe played such an integral part in the plot.
-- The diversity of the girls. We've got Chloe. Then we've got a couple of girls who admit to being virgins, yet one is absolutely hell-bent on hiding this from everyone she knows. (Much to her surprise, the group still accepts her.) Another girl admits to not enjoying sex with her boyfriend, and is worried that this makes her "weird." One admits to faking orgasms. There's an openness that develops within the group-- by the end they're confiding in each other about intimate details of their sex lives, wondering if their experiences are "normal" or not, as they realize that there truly isn't a "normal."
-- Cash Sterling, the male hero of the book. Swoon. However, I like that he doesn't necessarily swoop in and save the day entirely. I.e., he's not getting all the credit for solving the problem, which is nice.
-- The book encourages openness about sexuality, which is amazing, yet rare. I'm not saying we all need to turn into "Sex and the City" and start loudly discussing orgasms and vibrators over Sunday brunch, but there shouldn't be so much taboo surrounding sex... The book also brings up a lot of great questions about sex and sexuality that will hit close to home for pretty much any female reader.
--Lissa is flawed. It'd be too easy for her to be the perfect, laid-back, social butterfly who's dating the quarterback. Nope, she's anxious, and a bit uptight, and isn't an all-knowing relationship/sex goddess. She doesn't have an endless group of friends. She gets too swept up in the strike, she's a little bit crazy at times. We've all got some Lissa in us. She's relatable, and in that sense, she's normal.
Lissa is sick of the feud at her school. Soccer boys vs. Football boys. It's been going on too long. It's effecting her and her relationship with her football playing boyfriend. After enough is enough she decides to fight back. She gets together with the girls dating other players from both teams and they unite. They make a pack to 'hold out' until this feud is over. The boys will surely stop this if they're getting cut off, right? It seems like a legit plan but things never seem to go according to plan...
Lissa was a fantastic heroine. I love the way she was with her family, she reminded me a lot of myself in that regard. Her dad and brother were great, and her best friend Casey had me laughing throughout the story. I loved how her relationship with our hero progressed. The narration was good when it came to Lissa, but anytime she was voicing any other character, not so great. Still, overall this is an audiobook I would recommend and I would definitely recommend reading it for all YA lovers.
Hamilton High is at war, and while the two rival sides, the soccer team and the football team, seem to enjoy their war, their girlfriends wish it would just end. The war started years ago, but the boys are just as serious about it now as the original teams were when it started. They egg each others cars, they interrupt dates, and they even get carried away to the point of a few guys getting hurt. Lissa made her boyfriend Randy promise to stay out of the war, but when he treats her like a "drive by" on the way to more mischief, she has had enough. She calls the girls together with a plan.
The girls are staging a Shut Out. The football girlfriends and the soccer girlfriends are banding together to withhold all sex and "other stuff" from their boyfriends until the stupid feud is called off. At first the girls are skeptical, but by banding together, they not only learn something about the boys they are dating (and not always something good), but they also learn something about themselves. Can the girls end the rivalry once and for all before it rips everyone apart?
I know what you are going to say. This is too provocative and too sexual for a young adult novel. You would be both right and wrong. Yes, it is provocative and sexual, but no, it isn't too much for the older end of this age group. I wouldn't give it to a young middle school student, but for the older YA crowd, this is a really well done novel that discusses the sexual intentions and understandings of teens. And not all girls are monogamous, not all are virgins, but not all are sexually active either. Some are embarrassed by their lack of experience, and some are ridiculed for being open about enjoying sex. There is a wide variety of girls and experiences, but they have one thing in common... they are all unsure in themselves and the world around them. Yes, this is a provocative and sexual novel (but not graphic), but it has a wide variety of young women our YA readers can relate to and look up to. I liked this. It is important to speak candidly to teenagers, and Keplinger never fails to do so. It may be her age (and total lack of jadedness that comes with advanced age), but Keplinger doesn't hesitate to write about REAL teen issues, and sexual experience and pressures are a common issue.
And that is where this novel works for me. It isn't sex for the sake of having sex, it has a purpose. Girls doubt themselves, they succumb to pressure, and they do things they are unsure of. The mixture of girls in this story really represents any clique of girls out there in the world, and they can all be different and still make it work. I also love the strong message that sex isn't something to be ashamed of, but also isn't something to use to keep your boyfriend around and not cheating on you either. In fact, when they were still planning the Shut Out, one girl expressed she was worried the boys would cheat on them if they Shut them out. Another girl responded by saying that if they did cheat, they weren't worth their time anyway and they should be happy to learn about that side of their boyfriends if it was there. Shut Out really had strong characters and ideals behind the mature and realistic topic.
I would probably give this to a high school student, although I can't imagine many boys would want to read it (or want their girlfriends to read it for fear of them getting any ideas!). I really like Keplinger's books. They combine realistic issues with fun stories, and always a little romance! You can root for the characters because you always see a little of yourself in at least one of them. I am impressed with this author's candor and look forward to seeing more of her writing. She knows how to speak to young adults in a way that neither patronizes them nor trivializes their issues. I wish I had an author like Keplinger out there when I was a young adult!
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