Title: Shut Up
Author: Anne Tibbets
Publisher: Premier Digital Publishing
Pages: Paperback; 118
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Violence; Abuse; Adult Language
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers looking for a contemporary read that is extremely honest, and definitely heartwrenching.
Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
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.
Let me tell you, going in to Shut Up I knew I was in for a pretty realistic read. What I didn't realize, was how vividly Anne Tibbets was going to share Mary's story. This is one of those books that is so raw, so real, that it hurts to read. However no matter how hard you try you just can't stop. Maybe it's morbid fascination, maybe it's concern for Mary, but either way you'll want to know how everything ends.
For Mary, life is about living in her sister's shadow. Still that isn't as easy as it sounds. For most adolescents, living in the shadow means being ignored. For Mary, it means being blamed for the sins of her older sister. Gwen is the type of character that makes you want to kick her. HARD. She is rude, selfish, and downright cruel to her younger sister. What broke my heart more than anything though was the way that the rest of Mary's family dealt with the stress. Here is a girl who is trying her best to just get by, but how can you stay positive when everything you say and do is always wrong?
What's most interesting about Mary's story is that her problems don't just stem from one location. There is nothing wrong with Mary. Sure, she might be a little bit lazy at times, or talk back, but what young person doesn't act like that at some point? Mary's problems come from outside sources. From the way her mother was raised, and now deals with stress. From the outside adults she tries to speak to that just don't comprehend what she is going through. Even from the possibility that she might somehow end up like her older sister. It isn't Mary who is the problem, but she is definitely the one who bears the brunt of it.
As an older reader, and one who has worked with kids for many years, I saw where Anne Tibbets was going with this story. She openly bears her soul through the use of Mary, and shows that being an adolescent can be a lot tougher than just wondering who will ask you to prom. This story is real. It's harsh. It's truth even within the fiction. There are kids out there who just need that one person who can read between the lines and see what they aren't saying out loud. Kids who are lost even when they look perfectly normal. Shut Up deals with child abuse, but it does it in a way that is a little more palatable than most. That's not to say that this is an easy read. Not by a long shot.
It did take me a little time to get through Shut Up, mostly because I was really hurting for poor Mary. However at the end of the day I feel better for having read it. Above all else, this story shows the power of the human spirit and the fact that sometimes, with the right help, things do get better. Despite a few minor issues, I really enjoyed this story. Readers who like a good contemporary, and are okay dealing with some of the more tough issues, should give this a shot.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.