Shut Up! (Hardcover)
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SYNOPSIS, Shut Up!, by Marilyn Reynolds
When their mother gets sent to Iraq with her National Guard Unit, seventeen-year-old Mario Barajas and his ten-year-old brother, Eddie, go to live with their aunt Carmen. Mario is not pleased with the arrangement because Carmen is one of those people that gets all bent over every little thing, plus she likes Eddie way better than she likes me.” But the boys want to stay in their own schools, and Carmen is their only hope for that. She becomes their legal guardian and Mario and Eddie move in with her the night before their mother, Max, has to report for duty.
Max tells Mario that Carmen’s busy with her job at the bank, and with Denton, the new love of her life, and as long as they follow her house rules and keep a low profile, they won’t have anything to worry about with Carmen.
Soon after the boys move in, Denton begins spending more and more time at Carmen’s. Mario says Denton hecka bugs me. He talks like he knows everything, and he acts like he owns the place, even though it’s Carmen who pays the rent.” But he sees that Denton is nice to Eddie, and Eddie likes the attention.
Mario’s focus on his girlfriend, his job at Java Jive, and school, and he’s barely aware that Eddie is laughing less, and sometimes behaving rather strangely. The, after they’ve been at Carmen’s several months, Mario comes home from work earlier than expected and sees Denton sitting on the edge of Eddie’s bed, with Eddie’s face pushed down onto his lap. Denton’s pants are open and his briefs are pulled down, and he’s holding Eddie’s mouth down on his dick.”
Mario goes into a rage, attacking Denton with all his might, but he’s no physical match for the man. When he threatens to call the police, Denton tells him the first thing that will happen with police involvement is they’ll want to protect you nice little boys. Which means they’ll take you away and out you in foster homes. Probably a group home for you, Mister Mario. No regular family wants to take in a smart-ass seventeen-year-old loser-boy like you Eddie boy here; they’ll take him away and put him in a different foster home. You’ll both change schools. One of you may be in Riverside, and the other in Northridge. Who Knows? Protective services go a long way to find foster homes. Maybe you’ll get to see each other once or twice a month, if you have nice foster parents. You get my drift?”
When Carmen comes in that evening, Denton acts as if nothing has happened. Mario doubts that Carmen would believe him if he said anything against Denton. When he and Eddie are alone, he tries to get Eddie to talk to him but Eddie has taken seriously Denton’s threats to kill them both if they don’t Shut up and stay shut up.” Mario tries to keep Eddie away from Denton, but realizes he can’t be with Eddie all of the time. Finally, he feels he has no choice but to run away with Eddie. They take Max’s old car and go four hundred miles to an Aunt and Uncle’s in Redville, a California farming community.
Carmen figures out where they’ve gone. She drives up to Redville to retrieve Eddie. She claims Mario is incorrigible” and wants nothing more to do with him, but she loves Eddie and she and Denton are going to get married and provide a good home for him. Mario finally tells the family what’s been going on, but Eddie, who stays shut up,” doesn’t back Mario up, and the others doubt his story. It is not until another family member takes a good look at Eddie’s drawings that she notices details that might indicate molestation. In the meantime, Max has called from Iraq and urged the Redville family to keep the boys with them until she can help sort things out. Ultimately, Denton is arrested and the boys are in a safe, stable place, but both their lives have been drastically changed by their experiences. The story ends on an uneasily hopeful note.
About the Author
In addition to Shut Up! Marilyn Reynolds is the author of eight other young adult novels: No More Sad Goodbyes, If you Loved Me, Love Rules, Baby Help, But What About Me? Too Soon for Jeff, Detour for Emmy, and Telling, and a book of short Stories, Beyond Dreams, all part of the popular True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High. She is also the author of I won't Read and You Can' Make me; Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers.
Besides her books for teens, Reynolds has a variety of published personal essays to her credit, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the ABC Afterschool Special teleplay of Too Soon for Jeff.
Reynolds is a seasoned educator who has worked for more than twenty-five years with teenagers facing a multitude of crises. Her extensive background with young adults includes teaching reluctant learners and at-risk teens at an alternative high school in Southern California. She often is a guest speaker and seminar leader for programs and organizations that serve teens, parents, teachers, and writers.
When she is not reading, writing novels, or participating n conferences, Reynolds enjoys walks along the American River, visits from children and grandchildren, and movies and dinners out. She and her husband, Mike, live in Northern California.
"Reynolds' treatment of youth and their challenges, from sexual abstinence to mixed-race parentage is compassionate, never condescending; the dialogue, situations, emotions, and behavior of the well-defined teen characters ring true. An engaging, thought-provoking read." Booklist on If You Loved Me