Review of Shut Up, This Is Serious

Shut Up, This Is Serious Shut Up, This Is Serious
by Carolina Ixta
High School    Quill Tree/HarperCollins    368 pp.
1/24    9780063287860    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780063287884    $10.99

It’s senior year, and while Belén’s classmates are focused on college applications, she’s flunking school and struggling to cope with a shattered home life. Since her pa walked out on their family, her ma has been withdrawn, crying and seemingly overlooking the past-due bills piling up. Belén’s best friend, Leti, is a straitlaced student determined to get into UC Berkeley, but now Leti is pregnant and worried that her boyfriend, who is Black, will be rejected by her racist parents. As Belén sinks into her loneliness, she seeks affection from a college guy to distract herself from the pain of her father’s abandonment and the constant comparisons to him from unsympathetic relatives. Misogyny, racism, religion, and unjust expectations for girls like Belén and Leti are explored within their Mexican culture with sharp rebukes and meaningful introspection about identity and breaking out of toxic familial and cultural cycles. A cast of secondary characters bolsters Belén’s development, though few (other than Leti) are given sufficient airtime to feel fully realized. The Oakland, California, setting is brought to life through rides on the BART and visits to the frutero that illustrate the city’s diversity. The protagonist’s strong narrative voice, the realistic emotional tone, and thematic touchstones will hook fans of Sánchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (rev. 3/18).

Pubissue-From the March/April 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jessica Agudelo

Jessica Agudelo is the youth collections coordinator at BookOps for the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library, and a member of the 2023 Newbery committee.

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