Monday, September 26, 2011

SHOUT OUT 4 "SHUT OUT" by Kody Keplinger

Shut Out

SHOUT OUT 4 SHUT OUT! I was really looking forward to this book and was not disappointed in the least!  I was surprised however, to find that the story and the characters were not quite what I was expecting - they were better. (Btw, is it just me or does the cover model look a little like a young Liv Tyler?)  

Lissa Daniels is dating Randy, the quarterback for their school football team who, along with his teammates is part of the long standing rivalry with the school's soccer team.  (I was a soccer player girlfriend in High School so I couldn't help but be Team Cash by default from the Intro sincere apologies to Randy & the other guys.)  Lissa's tired of playing second fiddle to Randy's "boyeez" so she comes up with a plan - one which involves getting the guys from both teams to end the fighting/hazing by cutting them off, through a well organized sex strike. 

She's convinced that since guys (all guys according to her) are only concerned about getting, well, you know, and they won't be able to withstand the shutout for long, thus agreeing to give up the rivalry.  She enlists the help of the girlfriends from both teams and figures with the all the girls working together, they'll be able to reach their goal much faster.  Seriously, guys can't go THAT long without, know...can they?!  Time will tell. 

What Lissa doesn't count on is a) not all the guys are one track minded jerks, b) the plan begins to affect the girls in strange ways, c) the guys figure out what's up and declare "GAME ON!" and d) how her own feelings about a certain soccer player hottie could potentially blow her plan to straight to hades.

A couple of the key players in this game are Randy - Lissa's longtime boyfriend, Cash Sterling aka Mr. Unattainable and Lissa's library co-worker, Chloe - Lissa's current BFF (she's a hot mess & we kinda love her for that), Ellen - Lissa's ex-BFF (everyone should WISH for an "ex" BFF like her) and Kelsey. The best way to describe Kelsey is "Spit-Fire" - as in when she opens her mouth to speak, she literally burns those around her with her words and her primary target tends to be Chloe.

*Ironic Side note* When I took the FB "SHUT OUT" quiz before the book even hit shelves to see which character I was most like, guess who I got? Yep, 'Lil Miss Spit-Fire herself, Kelsey. Now, I don't completely identify with her in the book but when I was younger, I had someone tell me that when I opened MY mouth I breathed fire to which I responded, "Well, sometimes people need to get burned." Um, yikes! I've learned how to control my tongue a lot better since then, thank goodness!

The obvious and age old question at hand is whether or not these teenagers should even be having sex in the first place, let alone withholding it from each other.  Whether or not I agree with what they're doing isn't the point.  What this story DOES do is open up the topic for discussion.  In their first meeting, the girlfriends all appear to be on the defensive about what they are or aren't doing with their respective boyfriends and what they'll be giving up during this strike.  When one of the girls bravely admits that she's still a virgin, she's made to feel bad about herself at first by a couple of the girls while another comes to her defense. 

As the strike continues and the girls continue to meet for slumber parties as a way to check-in with each other, we find that several haven't been completely honest with how far they've actually gone with their guys.  Some have felt the need to lie to save face or to help their boyfriends save face.  This is unfortunate on so many levels because really, what's wrong with waiting?  Nobody should feel pressured one way or the other, regardless of your gender and it's pathetic that things haven't changed in the few years since I've been in high school. This may be a work of fiction but the same is true in real life. (Btw, the fact that those years are separated by a *cough* decade *cough* or two *cough* makes little difference, OK? It's still not cool.)

This uncoolness is emphasized is a conversation between one of the girls and one of the guys (I won't say who because it would be a spoiler of EPIC proportion and who wants that?) but it goes like this...

Girl: "It's just...I keep asking myself Why? Why wasn't I good enough to wait for?  What's so wrong with me that he could throw away everything for one night?  Why was sex so damn important?"

Guy: "No listen for a second..." (spoiler paragraph) "I meant that a decent guy - a smart guy - wouldn't have let something like sex ruin a good thing.  A guy with half a brain wouldn't have screwed things up with a girl like you."  

Now, I can't resist adding my .02 to this conversation because in reality, I was interjecting myself into it anyway and yes, I mean out loud, as I was reading it.  (sighs)  I've mentioned before that I tend to get emotionally attached to characters so this behavior really shouldn't surprise you.

Anyway here's how it looked as I read it (I'm in red):

Girl: "It's just...I keep asking myself Why? Why wasn't I good enough to wait for? (Don't.even.go. there.)  What's so wrong with me that he could throw away everything for one night?  (OH.MY.Gosh. There's NOTHING wrong with YOU!  He's the...grrr! I'm actually surprised he's still walking around with all his original body parts still attached.)   Why was sex so damn important?" (Trust me, it's NOT especially with that...guy. Someone who REALLY loves you WILL wait for you.)

Guy: "No listen for a second..." (I'm listening even if she's not.) "I meant that a decent guy - a smart guy - wouldn't have let something like sex ruin a good thing. (Tru Dat!) A guy with half a brain wouldn't have screwed things up with a girl like you." (Sighs...How can you NOT be in love right now? Seriously, offer to massage his lips with yours - I'm sure his are tired from all that exertion.) 

"SHUT OUT" also addresses stereotypes like why is it OK for a guy to be flirtatious with lots of girls but when a girl is, she's called a nasty name?  Likewise, when a guy sleeps around, he's championed for it but a girl is deemed a slut or a whore.  None of these are OK, in my opinion. The dangers of using sex as a weapon or as a tool for manipulation is covered and discusses what it means to be a "virgin" and how far one can go and still be considered one.

There are some things in this book that will no doubt make some potential readers a little uncomfortable, shoot, just the topic of that three letter know...the one that begins with an "s and ends in "x" makes many turn the color of a turnip.  There's also your teen speakage which makes the Mom in me cringe a bit but I'm not passing judgement here - if I'm honest, I could've used one of those black "bleep" bars stamped across my mouth for the majority of my teen years.  But if you look below the surface (much like you have to do with people) to the heart of the story, you'll find strong, courageous girls and guys who stand up for what they believe in and don't give in just because someone else wants them to give it up.   

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