I had read 18-year-old Keplinger’s first novel, The DUFF a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it, so when I heard that she was writing another novel, I was super excited to get my hands on a copy. I picked up Shut Out at the public library and gulped the book down in a couple of nights. It was such a fun book to read! And when I finished the book it just left me with this feeling of accomplishment.
Shut Out is a modern retelling of Aristophanes’, Lysistrata- a Greek tale about a woman, who in an attempt to end a war, convinces the other women to hold a “sex strike” with their husbands. It is one of the earliest accounts of women and sexual relations.
Of course, in Shut Out, it’s a little bit different. At Hamilton High, there’s conflict between the football team and the soccer team and Lissa is tired of it! In an attempt to end the battle, Lissa convinces the soccer players’ girlfriends and football players’ girlfriends (including Lissa) to go on a hook up strike. Except, the girls never expected a new rivalry to be created- Boys vs Girls.
It’s no secret that Kody Keplinger is a feminist and promotes sex positivity, (you can tell that from her first book and her lovely blog) but in this book I think she did an incredible job writing a very active character and getting the message (though there’s certainly more than one) through to her audience. Because what becomes a hook up strike turns into self discovery turns into the girls sharing their feelings turns into the realization that “normal” simply doesn’t exist. We all have things to learn from Lissa and the girls.
“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’s expected of us?
‘You know,’ I said quietly. ‘I don’t think normal exists.’ ” (pg 154)
This passage shows Lissa discovering that there is no such thing as normal. And what’s expected of us is completely a theoretical perfection that is in no way realistic at all. This is a really, really important theme that I think a lot of girls would enjoy and benefit from.
Kody Keplinger is a really fantastic writer too. I have hardly read any better characters than Kody Keplinger’s! You really do feel as though you know the characters personally and can guess what they would do in a situation. Plus, Chloe, Lissa’s best friend, could have easily been a really obnoxious character, but Keplinger wrote her in a way that was just annoying enough to work. Completely spot on!
“ ‘Hell if I know. I stopped reading emails weeks ago. I just do what you tell me to do, since I had to drive you around anyway.’
I rolled my eyes and checked the calendar I’d set up on my email server. ‘Well, you’re driving me to Ellen’s tomorrow night then.’ I clicked the button to shut down my computer. ‘I have to go or I’ll never get this homework done.’
‘Whoa, you still do homework?’ Chloe asked. ‘Why? We’re seniors. You’ve already taken your SATs. Why bother?’
I laughed. ‘Good night, Chloe.’ And I hung up the phone.” (page 232- 233)
“Ellen’s room sent me back to a time before all of this. Before the strike, before Randy, before the stupid rivalry began interfering with our lives. Sitting cross-legged on Ellen’s floor, flipping through one of her fashion magazines, made me feel thirteen again. It felt good. Simple.” (page 234)
Title: Shut Out
Author: Kody Keplinger
Date Released: 09/2011