Shut Out

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After reading Kody Keplinger’s other novels, The Duff, A Midsummer’s Nightmare and Lying out Loud, I decided to check out her other young adult novel, Shut Out. This story takes place in the same universe as her other novels, at Hamilton High in Hamilton, Illinois.

shutoutLissa Daniels is a high schooler who has been dealing with a lot since an accident killed her mother and left her father partially paralyzed. She relies on the support of her best friend Chloe, brother Logan and jock boyfriend Randy. An ongoing rivalry between the football and soccer teams causes Randy to lose focus on their relationship, much to Lissa’s annoyance. Fed up with the injuries and trouble the rivalry has caused, she and the other girls go on a “sex strike,” or refusing to have any physical contact with their significant others until the rivalry ends. This is further complicated when it turns into a competition to see who can control themselves the longest, combined with her secret infatuation with athlete Cash Sterling.

Truthfully, I feel like this novel is the weakest out of all of them. I do like that Keplinger isn’t afraid of exploring sexual themes. The themes of honesty and acceptance are also important, but I found the plot predictable and not too exciting. I knew who Lissa was going to end up with from almost the very beginning.

Although this book might have not been the best, Keplinger is still a great writer for her age. I’m looking forward to more of her future work.

Saint Anything

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By now, I’ve read almost all of Sarah Dessen’s books. A popular author in the young adult world, her novels contain similar formulas; dealing with family, divorce, romance, loss and identity. 

Earlier this year, I borrowed The Moon and More from the library and started reading it. However, I couldn’t help but feel the predictability of the story just a few chapters in, and eventually stopped reading it. Then, a few days ago, I was looking for kindle books to borrow from the D.C. library, and came across Saint Anything. Although unsure if I would like it or not, I decided to borrow it and give it a try. I’m glad I did.

Saint Anything is about Sydney Stanford, a seventeen-year-old girl whose family life has been jarred by the arrest of her older brother, Peyton. After Peyton is sentenced to spend a year and a half at a correctional facility, Sydney seeks a fresh start by going to a public school. It is here she meets and befriends Layla and Mac Chatham, brother and sister whose family life intrigues her. She finds herself becoming close with the rest of the Chatham family as a way to escape the tension of her home life.

What I like most about the story is that it centers on family and friendships, a nice departure from the divorce and romantic themes of Dessen’s other novels. Sydney’s family has tension due to her mother’s fixation on interacting with Peyton as much as possible without realizing the effect it has on Peyton himself and other members of the family. Sydney finds solace in her friendships with Layla, and her friends and family. These themes are very realistic and present in almost everybody’s lives.

There were certain parts of the novel that I felt weren’t necessary. There is a chapter documenting the experience Sydney has at her friend Jenn’s house. It could be to show the difference in experiences Sydney has with her old friends versus her new friends, but it still felt like filler.

This book is definitely worth a read, as it distinguishes itself from her other novels with themes of incarcerated love ones and the effect it can have on families.