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A modern-day Lysistrata retelling that reinforces as many stereotypes as it overturns.
College student Keplinger (The DUFF, 2010) sets this version at Hamilton High School, where the football team and the soccer team are engaged in a 10-year-old rivalry. Lissa, obsessed with being in control since her mother's death in a car accident, is tired of her footballer boyfriend Randy's participation in pranks, food fights and seemingly endless cycles of revenge. Her decision to combat the problem by organizing a sex strike comes seemingly out of left field, but once the girlfriends of the two teams' players are united, they begin both supporting each other and comparing their own experiences with sexuality. The girls explore their shame about being labeled virgins, sluts or teases, whether any of the girls having sex actually enjoy it (it varies) and whether there's any such thing as normal when it comes to sex. Plenty of assumptions go uninterrogated, however: Only boys play sports, sex is far more important to boys than to girls and everybody is heterosexual. Cash Sterling, the romantic lead, bosses and wheedles Lissa far less than Randy but still intervenes in her life in ways discerning readers might consider invasive.
Enjoyable as a conversation-starter, but let's hope real-life conversations take a more critical approach to gender politics. (Fiction. 14 & up)
There is nothing more humiliating than being topless in the backseat of your boyfriend’s car when someone decides to throw an egg at the windshield.
Wait. Scratch that.
Having your boyfriend jump off you, climb out of the car, and chase after the guy, completely forgetting that you’re still half-naked—that trumps it.
And there is one thing even worse than that.
Having it happen repeatedly.
I rolled onto my stomach and reached an arm down to the floorboard, searching for my tank top and praying the windows of Randy’s new Buick Skylark were as tinted as the ones on his old Cougar, the one he’d wrapped around a telephone pole last month. The Buick was older and used, but Randy considered the bigger backseat an improvement over his other car.
Not that it was being used at the moment.
I pulled on my top and climbed into the front seat. This was the third time the car had been vandalized—with us inside—since Randy and I had started dating sixteen months ago. The other two times had happened last fall, when the rivalry was in full swing, and both times I’d been left in the car, humiliated, while Randy chased after the culprit. Not exactly my definition of a good time.
It had been almost a year since then, though, and I’d hoped to avoid the embarrassment this time around, but apparently, I was too optimistic. Here I was again—forgotten, alone, and fighting back tears.
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.
I shut off the sexy R&B CD Randy had been playing and flipped through the presets on his stereo, stopping at a crackling Oldies station to hear the last few seconds of “Night Moves” by Bob Seger while I pulled my messy make-out hair into the elastic band I wore around my wrist.
Thirteen and a half minutes later, Randy returned.
“Soccer fags! I’m gonna kill those assholes.”
I shot him a look. He knew I hated it when he talked like that.
“Sorry,” he muttered, falling into the driver’s seat with a thud. He stared at the egg-splattered windshield, grinding his teeth. “I just can’t believe they did that.”
“Well, okay, I can, but I’m pissed.”
“That’s going to be a pain in the ass to clean off.”
He turned to face me. “I hate those assholes. God, I can’t believe I didn’t catch the guy. Shane and I are going to have to get them back good for this.”
I didn’t say anything. I’d tried to explain the whole “cycle of violence” concept to Randy before, but it just didn’t stick. He didn’t seem to understand that retaliating against the soccer players would lead to them attacking him again. He was giving them what they wanted. Feeding into this stupid rivalry. It would never end if he kept fighting back.
Logic wasn’t Randy’s strong suit, though. He was the spontaneous “act now, think later” type. That was part of the reason I loved him. The whole “opposites attract” thing was way true in our case. But sometimes Randy’s impulsiveness was more stressful than sexy.
He sighed dramatically before turning to me.
“So,” he said, a suggestive grin sliding across his face. He tilted his head forward, letting his sandy blond hair fall into his eyes. “Now that that’s over with… where were we?”
“We,” I said, pushing him away as he leaned in to kiss me, “were at the part where you take me home.”
“What?” Randy sat back, looking wounded. “Lissa, it’s only ten thirty.”
“Look, I know that guy ruined the moment, but we can start over. Please don’t be pissed at me. If anything, be pissed at the guy who threw the egg.”
“I’m not pissed, I’m just… frustrated.”
“It’s not my fault,” he said.
“It’s both of your faults.”
“Come on, Lissa. What was I supposed to do?” he asked. “He egged my car. He ruined our moment. He could have been spying on us—on you. A good boyfriend wouldn’t let some jerk get away with that.”
“He did get away with it,” I reminded him. “They always get away with it. Whether you go chasing them or not, they get away. So what’s the point?”
I wanted to be honest with Randy. To open up and tell him how much it hurt when he left me alone like that. How worthless and cheap it made me feel. We’d been together for so long; we loved each other; it should have been easy to tell him the truth. To let it all out.
But all I could make myself say was, “I’m not cool with coming second to this stupid rivalry all season.”
“You aren’t second, babe.”
“Prove it,” I retorted.
Randy stared at me. The corners of his mouth twitched a little, like he was going to spit out a cute answer and then thought better of it. His eyes perked up once before going blank again. He had nothing.
I turned away from him, messing with the dials on his radio again. “Just take me home, okay?”
“Lissa,” he murmured. His hand closed around mine, gently pulling it away from the radio and lifting it to his lips. He kissed my knuckle, whispering, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that jerk ruined our night.”
That wasn’t what I wanted him to apologize for.
“I know you are.”
His hand slid down my wrist and danced its way back up my forearm and shoulder, stopping when it reached my neck. His fingers cupped my cheek and turned me to face him. “I love you,” he said.
He moved forward, and I let him kiss me this time. Just a quick, light kiss, not the kind I knew he was hoping for.
“You still want me to take you home, don’t you?”
Randy shook his head, half laughing as he reached into the backseat and blindly attempted to locate his own shirt. “You amaze me, Lissa Daniels. Most girls would cave as soon as I gave them the puppy-dog look with these amazing eyes.”
“Sorry. I like boys. Not dogs. You should’ve dated a different girl if you wanted someone to bend to your will.”
“That’s all right,” he said, pulling the shirt over his head and turning to fiddle with the keys, still dangling from the ignition. “I like having a girl who can keep me in line. You’re tough and smart and sexy and—”
“And you’re still taking me home,” I said, giving him a sweet smile.
“Yeah, I figured. But, hey, doesn’t make it any less true.”
I shook my head, unable to hold back a little bit of laughter now. “Oh, just drive me home, you brownnoser.”
And, just like that, the night’s drama was almost forgotten.
Almost, but not entirely.
“Dad!” I called out as I walked down the stairs the next night. “Where is Logan? He should be home already.” I paused in the doorway, staring at my father. Or, more accurately, at the big bowl of ice cream in his lap.
“Hey, honey,” he said, trying to conceal the bowl from my line of sight and failing oh so miserably. “I’m sure Logan is—”
“Dad, what are you eating?”
I walked over to him and jerked the bowl out of his hands. “I can’t believe you,” I said, taking it into the kitchen. I could hear the wheels of Dad’s chair squeaking across the carpet, rounding the corner after me as I dumped the remaining chocolate-swirl ice cream into the garbage disposal.
“Oh, come on, Lissa.”
“You heard what Dr. Collins said. You’re supposed to be watching your diet.” I ran the water to rinse out the bowl. “You need to lose some of the weight you’ve put on since the accident or you’re going to have more health problems. Eating this isn’t going to help you with that, Dad.”
“One bowl of ice cream isn’t going to kill me,” he argued.
“You don’t know that.” I reached for a paper towel and turned to face Dad as I dried the bowl. The look on his face tore at me a little. The one that said he knew I was right but didn’t want to hear it.
This wouldn’t have been an issue five years ago, before the accident; his construction job and love of sports kept him in great shape. But it all changed on the January night his car slid on a patch of ice and sent him and my mother careening into the opposite lane. Even after Mom’s funeral, with all the food no one could touch; after he started his new job as a counselor at the elementary school; after he began smiling again—he was still in the wheelchair.
No more biking. No more football. For some paraplegics these things were possible, but we couldn’t afford any sort of special chair or bike that would keep Dad active.
So it was my job to watch out for them. For him and Logan. Without Mom around, they needed someone to take care of them. That was my responsibility now, even if it meant being a little harsh sometimes.
“So why isn’t Logan back?” I asked again, glancing at the clock on the microwave. “He usually gets in right at five thirty-two. He’s almost ten minutes late.”
Dad laughed. My muscles relaxed a little at the sound, even if it was my neurosis he found amusing.
“Lissa, are you really stressing over him being less than ten minutes late?” Dad asked.
“Maybe,” I admitted.
“Well, don’t,” he said, rolling his chair up to the kitchen table. “I’m sure he’ll be home before Randy gets here. Randy is coming over to watch the game, right?”
“Yeah,” I said, turning around to put the bowl back into one of the cabinets above the sink. “He’ll be here at six.”
Randy came to my house every Saturday night. First he’d watch whatever game was on ESPN with Dad, then we’d hang out for a couple hours before he went back home. In the year and a third we’d been together, he’d never missed a date. Even when I was mad at him.
Behind me, I heard the front door open and shut. I turned around and walked past Dad into the living room. “Where have you been?” I demanded as my brother untied his sneakers and tossed them into the pile of shoes next to the door.
“Um, work?” Logan said. “Where else would I be?”
“You’re late,” I told him.
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are.” I pointed at his wristwatch. “Look. You’re eleven minutes later getting here than usual. I was getting wor—”
“Lissa,” my brother said, reaching out and putting his hands on my shoulders in a way that was so belittling I wanted to scream. “Chill. I was talking to my boss after work.”
“About what?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said, patting my cheek and stepping around me to walk into the kitchen. “Anyone feel like ordering a pizza? If Randy’s coming over we should probably make it a large, right?”
I scowled and bent down to straighten up the pile of shoes on the rug. Why couldn’t Logan just answer my question? I hated that he had to make me feel like a child. I was ten years younger than him, but I wasn’t a baby—and eleven minutes may be nothing to him, but that’s enough time for anything to happen. I had a right to worry.
Mom was killed in less than thirty seconds.
“Lissa!” he yelled from the kitchen. “What kind of pizza do you want? I’m ordering now.”
I stood, having aligned the shoes and feeling happy that at least some part of this house was in order. “Sausage and ham. But Dad has to have a salad.”
“Oh, come on!” I heard Dad whine as Logan laughed and began reciting his order into the cordless phone.
Through the living room window, I saw Randy’s Buick pull into the driveway. Right on time. That was one of the things I loved most about Randy—he was always punctual, unlike my brother.
I opened the door for him as he made his way up the front steps. “Hey, babe,” he said, leaning in to kiss me.
I let his lips brush mine for just a moment before pulling back.
“Still mad?” he asked.
“Not mad. Frustrated, remember?”
Randy ran his fingers down my arm, lowering his voice so Dad and Logan wouldn’t hear. “I can un-frustrate you if you want.”
I swatted him away, my whole body stiffening. “You sure you won’t be too busy cleaning your windshield?”
“I’m never too busy for you, baby.”
“You were last night.”
He tilted his head to the side, batting his long, perfect eyelashes at me. “You’ll forgive me. I know you will.”
“We’ll see.” I meant it to be teasing, but it came out sounding cold.
“You always do!” he called over his shoulder as he strolled into the kitchen.
I shook my head, knowing he was right. I always forgave him, and I was sure I always would. I knew as soon as he walked into the kitchen. As soon as Dad smiled at him. As soon as Logan clapped him on the shoulder. I would always forgive Randy because he was part of my family. He had been since the moment I first brought him home.
Watching them now, as I stood in the kitchen doorway, I knew I’d fallen in love with Randy that first night, when he’d walked right up to my father as if he didn’t even notice the wheelchair and shook his hand. He made my family happy, and after all we’d been through over the past few years, seeing them smile like that… well, it made me happy, too.
I forced myself to relax, to loosen up a little, as I walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table next to Randy. There was no need to be on edge right now. Not with my family. Not with Randy.
“So how’s the season starting up?” Logan asked as he took a seat across from Randy. “The soccer assholes giving you hell yet?”
“Yeah.” Randy sighed, leaning his chair back on two legs and folding his arms behind his head. “But whatever. We’re giving them hell right back.”
I bit my lip. “Randy, can you put your chair on four legs, please?” I asked. “You’ll fall that way… and hurt the chair.”
“Yes, Miss Daniels,” Randy said, rolling his eyes as he let his chair fall back into its proper position. “But is it me or the chair you’re worried about?”
“I plead the Fifth.”
Randy gave me a look of mock heartbreak.
“My senior year,” Logan said, ignoring my deliberate change in conversation, “we gave all the freshmen soccer players swirlies in the boys’ bathroom.”
“Dude, that’s so lame.” Randy leaned forward, grinning. “There’s actually a plan for tomorrow night that—”
“That you’re not going to be a part of,” I snapped before I could stop myself. Randy, Dad, and Logan all turned to stare. “I don’t think you should be involved in all that, Randy. It’s stupid. What kind of school has a rivalry between two of its own teams? Plus, what if someone gets hurt?”
“Oh, come on, Lissa,” Logan scoffed. “It’s harmless. No big deal.”
“Maybe when you were in high school, but the fighting has gotten worse since then. This time last year, Randy and the football team busted all the windows out of the soccer goalie’s car. They could have gotten into some serious trouble,” I informed him, then turned back to Randy. “You won’t participate, will you? Leave it to Shane and the others if they want to be idiots, but you don’t have to do it.”
Randy hesitated for a second, looking between me and Logan.
I gave him a nice hard glare. A wordless warning of what might happen if he didn’t side with me here.
“Fine,” he said. “I won’t be a part of it.”
“You’re so uptight, Lissa,” Logan grumbled.
“Leave her alone,” Dad said. “She’s looking out for people. It’s sweet.”
Sweet, I thought bitterly as the doorbell rang behind me. God, it was so condescending. Like I was an overly sensitive little kid. Couldn’t they see how ridiculous the rivalry was? How continuing to retaliate would just make it go on forever? Soccer, football—they were just games. Neither sport was worth this much drama.
I went into the living room to get the door. The delivery boy handed me the large pizza and Dad’s salad. From the kitchen I could hear laughter and cheers as the boys discussed the game they’d be watching that night. Betting on who would win and lose, the topic of torturing freshmen dropped and forgotten.
The rivalry wasn’t brought up again until later that evening, when Randy and I sat out on the front porch steps, the game having ended and my dad and Logan already off to bed.
“I’m sorry about the other night,” Randy said quietly, his arm sliding around my shoulders, pulling me against him. “Sorry those assholes had to show up and ruin everything.”
I had to bite back a sigh of frustration. He still didn’t get it. Didn’t get that running off and leaving me was the part I was upset about, not the fact that someone had egged his car. But at least he was trying, I guess.
“Shane’s got a plan to get back at them,” he continued. “A good one.”
“You’re not going to help, though,” I pressed. “I know I probably shouldn’t have called you out in front of Dad and Logan, but I’m serious. I don’t want you involved in all that.”
Randy gave me a hopeless look. “Shane and the guys are going to give me hell for backing out.”
“Aw. Will they pick on you, sweetie?” I asked. “Should I call their parents?”
“I’m serious,” he said. “They’ll call me a pussy.”
“And if you help them, I’ll call you a dick. So no matter what you do, you’re going to be some form of genitalia.” I grinned up at him. Finally, I was feeling relaxed enough to joke around. It had taken all night. “Shane and the boys may rag on you a bit, but will that be any worse than what I could do to you?”
Randy stared down at me for a second. “What would you do to me?”
“I obviously can’t tell you. That’d ruin the surprise.” I poked him in the chest. “But I can tell you that it wouldn’t be this.” I glanced around to make sure there were no cars coming, no neighbors staring out of windows, no one to see. Then slowly, tantalizingly, I leaned up and pressed my lips against his. The kiss was long and hot, but before it got too deep, I pulled back, leaving Randy with an awed, hungry look on his face.
And leaving my cheeks on fire.
“I bet Shane can’t do that,” I said.
“Maybe he can. You don’t know.”
“How do you know I don’t know?”
Randy blinked at me, and I laughed. “Kidding. I’d never hook up with Shane. You’re the only Neanderthal I can deal with.”
“Thanks. I’m flattered.”
I kissed him on the cheek and rested my head on his shoulder. “Seriously, though. Please don’t mess with the soccer players. Just let it go. For me?”
Randy let out a long sigh. “Yeah… I guess.”
His fingers wrapped around mine and I snuggled against him. Now that he seemed to be listening to my entreaties, I was sure we would get through this autumn; we’d survive the rivalry. I was sure it would all work out. We fell into a comfortable silence, staring up at one of the last starry nights of the summer.
I know that most schools have rivalries with other schools, but that’s not how it worked at Hamilton High. Nope. Our biggest battles were fought on the home front.
It all started back when Logan was a junior in high school. That’s when the school board decided to start an official school-sponsored soccer team. I don’t know all the details—I was in second grade, and anything that didn’t involve ponies just wasn’t worth my time—but in a small town like ours, taking away half of the football team’s funding to create another fall sport was pretty scandalous.
Apparently the football players got pissed at having to share time in the workout room, and the crowds that usually filled the stands at games began to dwindle as more and more people started going to watch the soccer team play. Hostility rose between them—and between the teams’ coaches—and eventually a full-on war broke out.
Now, you’d think the drama would fade over time, right? Like, after the teams graduated and new players came in, it would die.
So not the case.
A decade later, the rivalry was still going strong. Every fall, when sports season started up, the battle would rage again. And the dumbest part was, I don’t think the boys even knew why it had started to begin with. I’d asked Randy once and he’d just shrugged.
“Does it really matter?” he’d asked.
To me, a girl who had to share her boyfriend with the war every autumn, it did. But not to the players. They just knew that they hated one another. That was enough.
“Dickhead!” Randy yelled across the cafeteria as Kyle Forrester, the soccer team’s goalie, gave him the middle finger.
I cringed at the volume of the obscenity in my ear, and I tapped Randy on the shoulder. “Hey, would you mind lowering the volume a little? I’d like my hearing to last a few more years.” He flashed a quick smile at me and hooked an arm around my waist as he turned his attention back to the soccer team’s table.
I was glad he didn’t notice the way I tensed.
I sat at the lunch table, sandwiched between Randy and my best friend, Chloe. Though Chloe was too busy flirting with Michael Conrad to notice the stares we were getting from the rest of the student body. This was so not what I needed on a Monday.
I already had a headache from staying up too late the night before. That was the fatal flaw in my weekend schedule—with Randy over on Saturday nights, I didn’t get to do any homework until Sunday. With three AP classes on my plate, that meant lots of homework and late-night studying. Having people yell insults over my head the next day, while I was still exhausted? Not fun.
And also completely embarrassing. I rapped my knuckles against the table in a fast, anxious rhythm.
“Hey, could you keep it down? Seriously,” I said to Randy just as one of Kyle’s buddies yelled, “Fuck you!” back at us.
Randy shot him a glare before giving me an apologetic nod. “You okay?” he asked.
“Fine. I just have a headache.”
He put a hand on the side of my head and smoothed back my hair, pushing some of the straight black strands from my eyes. “Anything I can do to help?”
“Well, you can—”
And that’s when the glob of mashed potatoes landed in a disgusting mound on the table, right in front of me. They’d been flung, undoubtedly, by one of the soccer players at Kyle’s table.
“Gross,” I said, scooting my chair away from the table. “Randy, can you please put an end to this?”
But he wasn’t listening. He was too busy glaring at the soccer team’s table, a look of deep concentration on his reddening face. For some reason, it reminded me of a caveman contemplating how to make fire. Only Randy didn’t want fire. He wanted a way to get revenge without getting detention—or, worse, suspended—in the process.
I stood up just as his best friend, Shane, picked up an orange and pulled back his arm, aiming for one of the soccer players’ heads.
“Where you going, babe?” Randy asked, turning away from his enemies and reaching for my hand.
“Library,” I muttered, wrenching my hand from his grasp without even meaning to. I let out a breath and rolled my shoulders, willing myself to relax. It was just Randy, after all.
He wrinkled his nose in disgust at my words. “Library? Why?”
“I need to finish some homework.” I gave his shoulder a quick, reassuring squeeze to let him know I wasn’t pissed—this embarrassment wasn’t entirely his fault; Kyle had been the one to start it, really—before scooping up my tray and edging around the table, heading to the front of the cafeteria so I could dump my barely touched food and hurry away from the madness.
At least, that was the plan.
Running into Cash Sterling kind of ruined it.
One minute I was clearing off my tray and returning it to the rack, thinking of how quiet the library would be, and the next I’d spun around—without checking behind me, of course—and slammed into something hard. For a second I was totally dazed, the top of my head pounding from the impact with something very solid. When my senses came back, I realized that the thing my head had hit was Cash’s chin, and the only reason I was still standing was because one of his arms had wrapped quickly around my waist, keeping me from falling backward into the trash cans.
I knew it was him without even looking up. I blushed, embarrassed by the way I knew his scent. Hating that I remembered.
“You okay?” he asked in his bass voice.
I pulled away from him, hurriedly putting a few feet of space between us. “I’m fine.”
Cash was still rubbing his chin where we’d collided. “Sorry. I didn’t even see you.”
“It’s no big deal,” I told him, pretending I didn’t care if he noticed me or not. “But you shouldn’t stand so close behind people. Maybe remember personal bubbles next time or… or something.”
He shook his head, half laughing, and ran a hand over his buzzed brown hair. “Personal bubbles, huh?”
I almost laughed, too. That really had sounded lame. But I forced myself to keep a straight face, to stay cool and aloof. Cash Sterling would not make me smile. I wouldn’t let him.
“Yes,” I said stiffly. “It’s, like, a three-foot radius for most people.”
He smiled, his green eyes crinkling at the corners. “Would it surprise you if I mentioned that I barely passed geometry?”
“Oh,” I said. “Well, a radius is the distance from any part of a circle’s perimeter to the direct center of the circle. It’s half the diameter. So if a circle is six feet across the middle, the radius is three feet and…” And I was rambling. I shifted my feet and took a breath. “And I got an A in geometry.”
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “Seems like I should have hired you as a tutor, huh?”
“I doubt even I could have saved you if radii are beyond your comprehension.” The joke slipped out before I realized it.
“True,” he said, stepping a little closer to me. “But if I’d been smart enough to hire you, maybe I would have been smart enough to learn the material.”
I was fighting off a smile when I saw Randy coming up behind Cash. That killed the smile. And in a weird way, I was grateful. It made me uncomfortable to be so comfortable around Cash.
Though I also didn’t want to be present for the drama that was about to unfold.
“Hey, loser,” Randy snapped. “Leave my girl alone.”
Heat flooded my cheeks as Cash’s face darkened and he turned to face Randy. “Sorry. I didn’t realize Lissa was your property.”
“Don’t get an attitude with me,” Randy said. “I’ll kick your ass right here and—”
“Randy, stop,” I hissed, sliding around Cash to stand between them. “Don’t do something you’ll regret. There are teachers around.”
Randy glared up at Cash, who was at least two inches taller. “If he’s messing with you, I’ll beat the shit out of him.”
But I knew it wasn’t about me. Had Cash been any other guy—played any other sport—Randy wouldn’t have left his seat. He really wasn’t a jealous or possessive boyfriend most of the time. This was one hundred percent about the rivalry and the fact that Cash played soccer. I was just serving as a good excuse for a fight to break out.
And I certainly wasn’t okay with that.
“I wasn’t messing with anyone,” Cash said. “I was coming up here to get a fork”—he pointed at the silverware container by the tray rack—“when I accidentally bumped into her.” He used the same hand to gesture to me. “I was just making sure she was okay. Didn’t realize that was crossing the line. Next time, I’ll just let her fall into the trash cans, if that’ll make you feel better.”
“You being a smartass?” Randy growled.
“Randy, come on,” I demanded, tugging at his arm. “You’re embarrassing me. Just let it go.”
Randy resisted for a second before finally relenting and letting me pull him away. “Prick,” he muttered after we’d taken about three steps.
“Yeah, he is,” I said, though I was sure we had very different reasons for thinking so.
“Randy, hold up.”
Despite my efforts to keep dragging him forward, Randy turned around to face Cash again. “What?”
I glanced over my shoulder and watched as Cash took a step forward. “I don’t know if you heard, but Pete went to the hospital last night. Tore his ACL after that stunt you and your buddies pulled yesterday. He won’t be able to play all season. Hope you’re proud of yourself.”
I froze. What?
Randy shrugged, and Cash turned and walked away.
“Come on,” Randy said to me. “The library can wait, right? Let’s go sit down and—”
“What ‘stunt’ did you and your buddies pull?” I asked. “What is Cash talking about? How did Pete tear his ACL?”
Randy looked away from me, his eyes darting around for a second before finally coming to rest on the floor. “Nothing,” he said. “I mean, we didn’t do anything to the kid. It’s his own fault. He should have known not to run through the woods when it was so dark, and—”
“We?” I repeated. My hands balled into fists at my sides. “Randy, two days ago you promised me you weren’t going to get involved with that stuff.”
“Lissa, lighten up. It’s no big deal,” he assured me.
“You promised me,” I whispered. I wanted to yell—I was angry enough—but my voice just wouldn’t rise. “You promised me you wouldn’t get involved. Now that kid won’t be able to play all season because of you.”
“I swear it isn’t a big deal. Besides, it’s his own fault. He got hurt when he tried to run away from us.”
“What were you going to do to him if he didn’t get away?” Randy started to open his mouth, but I quickly shook my head. “Never mind. I don’t want to know. It doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that a poor freshman is in the hospital now, and no matter how you try to excuse it, you lied to me.”
“He’ll be fine,” Randy said, shrugging. “I don’t see why you’re freaking out so much.”
I just stared at him. After more than a year, I thought we were past this. Past the lying and promise-breaking. After more than a year, I thought he understood me better than anyone. Maybe I was wrong.
An injury kept my father from ever playing sports again. Rationally, I knew that Pete’s situation was nothing like Dad’s, but to me, it didn’t matter. The fact that Randy’s actions—the entire football team’s actions—had hurt someone, ruined someone’s season, made me sick. This was bigger than just an egging or a few shouts across the lunchroom. This was dangerous.
And Randy, the one person I trusted to understand my feelings on this, thought I was “freaking out.” That was the worst part of all. Worse, even, than having him break his word to me.
“I’m going to the library,” I murmured, scooting past him and heading toward the cafeteria doors. The whole place suddenly felt too loud, too chaotic.
I could feel the familiar panic setting in as I fought to restrain myself. I needed to get out of there.
“Come on, Lissa,” I heard him calling after me. “Don’t be mad. I’m sorry, okay?”
But I just kept walking.
“You really expected otherwise?” Chloe asked over the phone that night when I told her about Randy and the hazing. “Come on, Lissa. That rivalry has been going on for, like, ever. Promises or not, there’s no way any of those boys are going to miss out on a chance to torture the soccer team.”
“Someone got hurt, Chloe,” I said bitterly. “Bad this time. And for no reason. There will never be a winner, so what’s the point? There is none. The fighting is stupid.”
“Maybe. But there’s no use complaining about it. It’s not like it’ll ever end.”
When I first became friends with Chloe Nelson last year, after Randy and I started dating, I wasn’t sure what to think of her. I heard she’d slept with two-thirds of the boys on the football team. I’d thought she was kind of a slut at first—that’s what everyone called her—but we became friends fast. Faster than I did with any of the other football girlfriends.
Don’t get me wrong—the other girls seemed okay, but I hadn’t entirely trusted any of them. Not with my secrets and not with my boyfriend.
But in a weird way, I’d known I could trust Chloe.
I also knew that she was right.
This stupid little war would never end on its own. But I had to do something. I just had to.
“I’m sorry for bitching,” I told her. “It’s just… It’s getting out of hand, you know? It’s too chaotic. Too out of control. And even before that kid got hurt, it was getting in the way of my relationship. I mean, he just forgets about me anytime the feud comes up. I hate it.”
“Have you tried telling him that?” Chloe asked.
Chloe sighed. “Lissa.”
“I know. You don’t have to lecture me.”
“Too bad. I’m going to anyway.” She took a deep breath. “You need to tell Randy how shitty this whole thing makes you feel. I know you like to be Little Miss Ice Queen and stay cool and aloof and whatever, but he’s your boyfriend. You need to relax for once in your life and just let him know that this hurts your feelings.”
“I know, I know. It’s just… It’s hard. I want to, but I always seize up. I mean, we just got back together a few weeks ago.”
“Maybe you two broke up because you weren’t open enough with him.”
That so wasn’t why we broke up. But I would never tell anyone, not even Chloe, the real reason.
“God damn it, Lissa. You know, you are the only person who can make me sound like a fucking Hallmark card. Just talk to him, all right?”
“Good. He’ll probably be nicer to you than I am, anyway.”
“I like it when you’re mean.”
“Meow,” Chloe said. “Oh, baby.”
I laughed. She was really the only person who could get me this loosened up. If anyone else made the jokes she did, I would get so uncomfortable. Not with Chloe, though.
“I hate this, Chloe. Instead of it being just me and Randy, lately it’s been me and Randy and the entire soccer team.”
“Bow-chika-wow-wow. That sounds like a good thing to me.”
“Sorry. I couldn’t resist.” She giggled.
“You know what I mean, though, right? It’s—”
I frowned and stood up from my desk chair, carrying my cell phone with me to the window.
Excerpted from Shut Out by Kody Keplinger Copyright © 2011 by Kody Keplinger. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted September 10, 2011
I am one of those people who absolutely loved The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. It's so refreshing for someone to actually talk about sex in a young adult book, and I'm so glad that Kody Keplinger wasn't afraid to do it again in Shut Out.
I was a bit iffy when I started Shut Out. The main character, Lissa, is a total control freak. And it drove me craaaazy for the first fifty pages or so. I just wanted her to shut up and stop telling her brother and dad and Randy what to do. But then we sort of got to know why she was that way, and I understood her more. And also sort of scarily related to her with the counting thing - I am OBSESSED with time. I have to be at least half an hour early to everything :/
As for the other characters - let me give you a quick rundown. I HATE HATE HATE HATED Randy. So very much. I thought Chloe was hilarious. And I loveeeed Cash. Kody Keplinger, who has only two published books out so far, has gotten me to fall for both of her love interests. Cash was much nicer and sweeter than Wesley in The DUFF (who I loved as well!), and the star game? Yes!
As for the storyline - I haven't read Lysistrata. But I loved how Kody Keplinger addressed the issue of sex head-on and didn't backdown, not for a second. The whole point of Shut Out is that the girls are witholding sex and sexy-ish acts from the guys until they stop fighting, so there's really no way to avoid it. I'm not going to get into the whole right/wrong/etc debate but let me just say, this is probably my favourite line from Shut Out - "I want to be normal, but no one talks about sex, so how should I know what normal is?"
Gah, anyway - I loved Shut Out. And I think you should read it. From what I'm seeing, a lot of people who didn't like The DUFF are really liking Shut Out, so don't let that stop you! Shut Out opens an important topic up for discussion in an interesting and entertaining way. The characters are dynamic, the romance is steamy, and the storyline definitely sucks you in.
20 out of 21 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 30, 2011
Posted September 6, 2011
Shut Out was an interesting read for me, leaving me a bit conflicted. On one hand, the book was extremely open and honest about sex, and sexual behavior among teenagers. On the other hand, the book had a lot of talk about teenage sex. I think at first what bothered me was that sex was just plain and simple THE topic of the book. The book started in full swing and it never really stopped from there. I have some reservations about making sex such a normal book topic in a young adult/teenage genre. But here's the thing, no matter how much us adults would like to dance around this topic and pretend it doesn't exist; to do so is to shut yourself into a closet and pretend the world doesn't go on without you. The fact is, teenagers are curious about sex, they have sex, they want to have sex, they think about sex.. In my opinion, parents are way too closed about this topic. No, I don't want to think about my kids having sex..but they are 7, 6, and 4, but one day they are going to be 16, 15, and 13 and I'm going to have to face the reality of this topic long before these ages come. I think it is important to be open, and especially honest about sex. I think most of us as kids were taught the science of it; how it works, what is done, what happens afterwards. We separated into classrooms, given pictures, and diagrams and made to understand the functions of our body parts. We learned the emotional aspects from.unfortunately in my case, Cinamax. Open conversation would do wonders I think, and would probably help teenager made better decisions.
And THIS is what I really loved about Shut Out. The bad part, these teenage girls were not discussing these things with their parents, not that it would have helped some. One of the girl's mothers bought her a pack of cigarettes. Nice. But it's reality, there are parents out there who promote unhealthy decisions. The good part, the girls got together and discussed these things with each other. What they found was that everyone was different. Some lied about having sex, because they didn't want to seem abnormal. Some didn't even like sex. Some, er well one at least, really enjoyed it. This hits on another wonderful part of the book. Kody Keplinger also is tackling the social norms of sexual behavior among the sexes. Is it wrong when girls like and desire sex, and are open about it? How about if a girl sleeps around, why is it that when a girl sleeps around she's a slut, and when a boy does he's "the man?"
Moving on. The characters. I liked almost all of the characters. They were a very believable bunch, and while reading there were times when you felt like you were right there at the slumber party with them. I did not, however, care much for Lissa - our main girl. I found her very annoying, and pretty selfish. I wanted to slap the control freak right out of here. I'm sorry, that is harsh. She has had a rough run of life, and she does understand she's controlling, but sheesh. I'm surprised she was even able to function as a person. Oh, she has her good moments, she's really good at making the other girls feel okay about themselves. On the flipside, there is Cash. I fell in love with Cash right away. He was just.well, the perfect guy is probably too much, but it's what comes to mind. I actually wanted a better match for him. It is really abnormal that I feel this strongly about a female-lead, but I guess it's bound to happen now and then.
8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 4, 2012
It is a total swoon worthy book!!! I love cash! Seriously like sexy soccer player (how can it get better than that) , way better than randy. Im happy with the ending and how her dad was always excepting even though lissa bossed him around all the time. I loved the strike idea and how the boys formed their own team. I didnt really get that there would be a boys team from the summery. Overall i would put this in the teen/romance/comedy. If anyone loves YA romance books get this book right now. I mean like right now!! I love love love (cash) the book!!!
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 16, 2012
Ok this book was good. But i warn u, BEWARE if u cant handle reading about sex. This is a very mature book, but really its true stuff that teenagers go through. I highly recomend. This book reminds me of catching jordan, so if you have read that you will like this and if u havnt read it but u like this book i highly suggest u read catching jordan too.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 8, 2011
I Also Recommend:
Let's start out with the basics: SHUT OUT is not for everyone. This book deals with sex and there's a lot of cursing being thrown around. This will turn off some readers immediately; if you're one of them, you can walk away from this review right now and I won't be offended. Anyone who knows the play LYSISTRATA and realizes that SHUT OUT is a modern day retelling should automatically realize that such taboo topics lie at the heart of this novel. The play revolves around the women of Sparta and Athens withholding sexual favors from their husbands in order to bring about the end of the Peloponnesian War. I know what you're thinking: Okay, wait, back up a second: This is a teen book? The topic seems way too adult! And that's true. SHUT OUT is definitely for mature teens and adults. But teens have sex, too. That's a fact of life. One of the nice things about SHUT OUT is that it doesn't idealize sex. It shows teens making bad decisions: Some of them regret the things they've done, others hold on to their beliefs, and most of them feel that they're "weird" or "different" when it comes to certain things. Keplinger looks at things from peer pressure to what's right for an individual, taking a sophisticated look at a topic that gives teens more choices than today's standard "Everyone else is doing it, so I might as well just get it over with, too." There's so much more at play, which is part of SHUT OUT's heart.</br></br>
I loved the characterization in this novel. Lissa felt very real, and as the novel progressed, she evolved and deepened as a character. Her boyfriend Randy puts her through a lot of intense situations, and I was really happy when they broke up (though at the time, my heart broke for her due to how this occurred). I loved, loved, LOVED Cash, and was so happy whenever Lissa was in a scene with him. He was such a good guy and just what Lissa needed after being with an idiot like Randy for so long. Cash's backstory is also thoroughly explored and makes a reader yearn in the same way Stephanie Perkins did when exploring Étienne and the workings of his mind when writing ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. Just like with ANNA, SHUT OUT is a contemporary novel that I liked more than I thought I would and I found myself flipping back to certain passages because they just sat with me after the book's conclusion. While outwardly light and fun, SHUT OUT does encounter serious topics that aren't outwardly visible to the naked eye.
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2013
I think this is one of the best teen books i have ever read, i had a line of friends asking to read this book when in done, this is a 5 star book, is should be a part 2 to this book
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 30, 2011
This book was amazing u wont want to put it down i laughed and cried so will u! I really connected with lissa the main character! I fell completly in love with the whole story i just wish they would have told me if lissa gave it up!
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 2, 2012
This was one of the first books that I've read that talked about sex concerning teens. It was cute and funny at parts and makes you fall in love with the characters. I enjoyed it, even though I still think The DUFF was better this was still enjoyable.
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 6, 2014
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Posted August 5, 2013
I got this book from our school library and was surprised at how good it was. So many topics in this book are what real teens gi through making it relatable for this generation. Although slightly inapropriate at times this book is a good read for any high school student.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 18, 2013
I decided to read this because i was bored and thought it looked cute... it wastotally worth reading. Yes it was a cute somewhat predictable book, butsometimes those are the best kind. I would not recoment it to anyone who is younger than 16 , but you prib shouldnt read unless your in highschool, since the whoke thing is about no sex... iver all really impressed, and for thoseof you who actually read my long post, GOOD JOB :)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 13, 2013
It was good. Funny and as a high schooler learned something.. A little to short for my liking but not bad. Didn't really like the characters to much was a book the I would hang on to every word. But loooved Chloe for her out going personalityWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 19, 2013
I thought this was a really really goid read
Im a high schooler just like lussa and i thought it was CRAZY ACCURATE on how lissa and her friends talked about sex like no lie i really enjoyed this and would recommend it to my friends A++++
Posted May 14, 2013
This book is outstanding! Between the girls against guys rivalry and the edge of your seat suspense that makes you wanna stay up all night to finish reading. I would have to say this is one of Kody's best books!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.