Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #77: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #77: Shut Out by Kody KeplingerShut Out by Kody Keplinger
Published by Poppy on September 5, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 273
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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four-stars

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Recommended by: Debby (Snuggly Oranges)

I’d been reserving Shut Out for a rainy day. See, Kody Keplinger is one of those authors where not having any books left to read makes me feel a bit twitchy. What is life without any new to me Rainbow Rowell or Kody Keplinger or Courney Summers in the world? Obviously, this is all in my head and there are always rereads available, but still. Of course, Kody has a middle grade out now, so the time had come to read Shut Out, especially with Debby encouraging me that I really needed to read Shut Out posthaste. That Snuggly Orange can be mighty pushy until she gets her way. Then again, it’s not like you have to twist my arm too hard to make me want to read Keplinger. While I do agree with the majority that Shut Out is her weakest novel of her first three, I also think that’s a bit like saying it’s the least influential Jane Austen novel, because it’s still damn good.

Shut Out  feels like it was written primarily to convey a message and, while I think it could definitely be interpreted as preachy, it’s a message that very much needs to be conveyed. There’s a lot of YA that tackles the unhealthy nature of slut-shaming on the minds of young women, but Keplinger goes many steps further. She considers virgin-shaming too, as well as the shame for those who enjoy sex too much or not enough. Basically, Shut Out is looking into the clusterfuck that is American society’s attitude towards female sexuality. You’re supposed to have sex, but not too much and you’re only supposed to enjoy it a certain amount. Have too much and you’re a slut; have too little and you’re a prude. Like it too much and you’re trashy; dislike it and you’re frigid.

gif sex education

Keplinger’s using the Lysistrata-like situation to throw a spotlight on this and to help make people aware that these attitudes really do permeate our lives. Personally, I’ve seen these things in action in my life. Though my eyes have been open to it for a while, I still can’t toss off a lot of the internalized shaming. Shut Out is a very important book and teens should be reading it. If I had the power, I’d probably assign Shut Out and Anatomy of a Boyfriend to all teen Health classes, and do not even think that I am kidding about that. Books like these are crucial, because they show that the reader isn’t alone and isn’t weird. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I always feel like I’m strange and these would have helped teen me immensely.

The romance is pretty swoonworthy, though it’s less the focus of this Keplinger novel than her others. If that’s what you’re primarily interested in, Shut Out might be a bit of a letdown. There are a couple of hot scenes, but it’s more about sexuality and friendship than romance. First off, I hated Randy, but I really appreciated that Keplinger made me understand why Lissa went for him. He’s an ass mostly, but he treats her wheelchair-bound father really well; it would have been easy for him to be all villain, but it’s good to see that even he has nice qualities. Then there’s Cash Sterling, aka Money Money as I affectionately call him. I definitely ship it and he’s great, in spite of his name. Also, love love love that he’s not wealthy and a genuinely good guy helping out his family.

gif library kiss

My favorite aspect from a character perspective is the kinship that arises between the girls. As the sex strike happens, they regularly meet up for sleepovers, where they swap stories and realize all of that stuff about sex. They learn to be honest with one another and it’s so beautiful. Even Kelsey, the mean girl of the opening, becomes a true friend and I love that so much. My personal favorite is Chloe, who openly admits her love for sex and that she has absolutely no desire for a relationship; she won’t let anyone bully her out of what she enjoys, which is casual sex with boys. She’s a goddess, basically. There’s some fighting as they get to know one another aside from the reputations, but ultimately a whole lot of supportiveness.

gif sisterhood of the traveling pants friendship

Where Shut Out lacked for me was in the emotional connection aspect. The book verges on preachy and Lissa didn’t really feel like a person so much as a mouthpiece much of the time. She did liven up a bit in her conversations with Cash, who makes her feel more comfortable with who she is, but most of the time I really didn’t have a good sense of who she was. I really liked most of the characters, but they didn’t have the vibrancy that the characters in The DUFF or A Midsummer’s Nightmare did for me; they didn’t become real in my head.

Favorite Quote:

“Maybe we’re all weird, then,” Kelsey said.

“If that’s the case, then why does it matter?”

“Because I want to know what’s normal.” She hesitated and then looked down at her bare feet on the tile. “I want to be normal but no one talks about sex, so how should I know what normal is?”

I considered this for a second. She was asking the same questions that had been running through my head for weeks. What’s normal? What is expected of us?

“You know,” I said quietly, “I don’t think normal exists.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif sleepover

5 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #77: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger”

  1. I have been wanting to read this for a while, but haven’t gotten around to it. I think I would really like it. Great review. I love all the gifs too. 🙂
    Amy @ Book Loving Mom recently posted…Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin ChupecoMy Profile

  2. Alexvdl says:

    I read it while I was downrange and liked it a lot.

    Also, what’s that library kiss gif from?

  3. Kristin says:

    Great review. I’ve enjoyed all of Keplinger’s books. There’s just something about them that draws me in every time.
    Kristin @ Book Sniffers Anonymous
    Kristin recently posted…Review: Shelter Me by Catherine MannMy Profile

  4. I was a bit surprised by just how much I enjoyed The DUFF. Although I haven’t read any more of Keplinger’s books just yet, I’m hoping to get around to it soon.
    I know there have been some criticisms for this one, and I think you’ve well laid out just what didn’t quite work for you, but I love the fact that it’s retelling Lysistrata in a contemporary setting. Retellings are always going to be my weakness.
    And I love that it still seems to promote some powerful messages of sexuality and friendship. So hopefully I’ll be able to get around to reading it one of these days.
    Great review!
    Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books recently posted…Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanMy Profile

  5. HI I’M LATE BECAUSE I WAS SAVING MY COMMENT ON THIS FOR A RAINY DAY DON’T KNOW WHY.

    “I also think that’s a bit like saying it’s the least influential Jane Austen novel, because it’s still damn good.”

    YUSSSSSSSS. That is such an excellent comparison.

    Please teach a teen Health class. Seriously. Teens should read a book like this, because I wish desperately that I had it when I was that age. It’s indeed that internalized shaming about all these misconceptions about teenage sexuality and all the insecurities come with it… I just I just *hugs book*

    MONEY MONEY IS MY LOVEEEEEEEE. Seriously, this is turning out to be my favorite Keplinger ship, I don’t even know o_o you’d think I’d stick with Wesley and Bianca, as hate-to-love, but I dunno, when I reread that earlier this summer it didn’t give me intense feels like it did the first time – while Shut Out was even more effective. wutishappening

    SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS GIF is PERFECT. I’ve read a bunch of “girl hate”-esque books recently and they are so irksome. Can we just have more supportive environments for females, like in Shut Out? PLZ. We can all be friends despite being different *nods*

    Aww, I’m sad you missed that connection. I did think you’d connect with Lissa more because of her personal issues with sex. I think to me she became really real because I kind of had a similar relationship to the one she has with Randy in high school, and I totally understood this pressure to be one kind of person when in reality you’re denying your true identity. But true, in comparison to The DUFF and AMN, it’s not the same heartbreaking kind of message or internal struggle and the MC just isn’t as fierce. I wonder what someone would think if they read Shut Out FIRST =/ Maybe Keplinger set the bar too high for herself, haha.
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…The Keys to My Heart #6: The ‘Pretty Dress’ CoverMy Profile

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