Author: Anne Tibbets
Where I got it: From the author, in exchange for an honest review
Mary’s older sister, Gwen, has royally screwed up her life. Not only is Gwen pregnant at seventeen, but she’s also decided to marry The Creep who knocked her up. Now Mary is powerless to stop her family from imploding. Her parents are freaking out, and to top it off, The Creep has a gross fascination with Mary while Gwen enjoys teasing her to tears for sport. Despite her brother’s advice to shut up, Mary can’t keep her trap closed and manages to piss off Mom so much it comes to blows. Mary doesn’t know what to do, and all her attempts to get help are rejected. When she finally plans her escape, she fails to consider how it could destroy them all.
We all know that I can be a pretty big fan of the “issues book” especially when it’s done well. And while Shut Up is classified as fiction, the story and the tone ring of truth and believability, likely a result of the author’s similar childhood experiences.
Mary’s got it all around bad at home. Her mom is both physically and emotionally abusive, her older sister is pregnant and horrible, and Gwen’s boyfriend has trouble keeping his hands off of twelve year old Mary. Despite the physical and emotional evidence of her challenging home life, Mary’s cries for help at school and church are attributed to “typical teenage drama” rather than a real problem, and eventually Mary comes to the conclusion that she’s got to escape.
Shut Up alternates between Mary’s perspective, and her older brother, who has gotten through their troubled home life by being as invisible as possible. Not only does the reader witness the despair that Mary experiences as her family tears her down emotionally, but the conflicting emotions of her brother, who firmly believes that the only way to survive is to fade into the background.
While we’d all like to think that childhood is a time of rainbows and lollipops, it’s also a hard fact of life that that’s not the case for everyone. Shut Up explores a wide range of issues that can affect teens in a heartfelt, emotional manner, while avoiding the overall negative tone that can color other similar novels. This isn’t an easy book to read, but it’s worth your time if you’re interested.