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
Then 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. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling.
Shut Out is Kody Keplinger’s second novel, a sort of modern-day retelling of the play Lysistrata. Lissa is dating star quarterback Randy, but she feels like he focuses way too much time and energy on the rivalry between the soccer and football teams. Not only is this pointless rivalry annoying, but it’s dangerous. If it doesn’t end soon, someone will end up seriously hurt. So Lissa has the brilliant idea to gather all the girlfriends of soccer and football players and convince them to go on a sex strike until the boys agree to end the rivalry.
So, pretty intriguing, right? Keplinger made waves with her debut novel The DUFF. While I liked The DUFF — particularly the realistic portrayal of teenagers — I didn’t love it. But I feel like Keplinger has really hit her stride with Shut Out. In my eyes, Lissa is a much more likable protagonist than Bianca was. She’s kind, sweet, and firm, if a little dense and naive at times. Anyone with eyes can see Randy’s a jerk, but Lissa’s so caught up in her first real relationship that she overlooks a lot of his negative qualities — something we’re probably all guilty of at one time or another. What’s nice about Lissa is that she’s not the most outgoing, the most popular, the funniest girl in school, but she does have an idea and she uses that idea to bring a group of girls together. She’s easy to relate to, believes in herself, and makes a lot of mistakes that teach her a lot about herself throughout Shut Out.
While Lissa’s not exactly the most unique main character, there are three things about this book that really stand out to me and make this one of my favorite reads of the year: the plot, the sex talk, and Cash Sterling. First of all, even though Keplinger borrows the idea of a sex strike from Lysistrata, I’ve never read the play and so the plot of Shut Out was a fresh concept for me. But even if it hadn’t been, I would’ve been riveted. And I should clarify, obviously all these girls aren’t having sex with their boyfriends. The strike includes no kissing for those couples not going as far, and no hooking up for those couples that are. And the whole idea of the strike inspires very open dialogue about sex and what hooking up means and the double-standards imposed on girls who sleep around as opposed to boys. The girls are at first hesitant to broach this taboo topic, but once they do they start asking all the questions that we all keep to ourselves, questions we’re too scared or embarrassed or nervous to ask. Keplinger takes a huge leap in addressing these topics and Shut Out won’t be for everyone, but for those with questions, Keplinger points out something we should all keep in mind — you’re not alone. She handles the situation with maturity and accuracy, perfectly capturing the mindset of curious teenage girls.
And to top it all off, there’s Cash Sterling. He’s dreaming, charming, and so, so sweet. He’s high school royalty, the nice guy who flirts with everyone and dates no one. As in, off-limits. Don’t even get your hopes up because he’s not looking for a relationship. Except how can you not get your hopes up when he’s so cute and chivalrous and just all-around amazing? He’s a perfect example of why I fall in love with book characters and I guarantee you’ll understand upon reading Shut Out. Keplinger is clearly an author to watch out for. She delivers interesting situations, realistic characters, and snappy dialogue once again, and she’s sure to do the same in the future.
Publication Date : September 2011
Rating [rating: 4]
Teaser Quote: “Part of me knew I should be mad, but I was mostly just hurt. After more than a year together, I hoped I came first to Randy. But the fact that he forgot me so easily because of a stupid egg on his car? It stung.“