Shut Up is a really hard hitting story. Mary's life is miserable. Because of her spoilt older sister, Gewen, the whole family is stressing out. Gwen must get what she wants, or she throws tantrums to rival a two-year-old. It wouldn't be surprising if her family forgot what her normal voice sounded like, because she's constantly wailing like a banshee at the slightest thing. Nothing is ever good enough. Instead of her parents sitting her down and saying "We're the parents, you're the child. You do what you're told, not dictate to us," they let her get away with murder. Her constant nagging an screaming causes everyone to be miserable, and quick to snap at everyone else.
So when 12-year-old Mary asks too many questions, doesn't act quick enough when she's asked to do things, or gets blamed for something she didn't do and is then called a liar, the treatment she gets is harsh. The way she is spoken to is really disgusting, by both her parents and Gwen. Gwen talks to Mary like she's lower than the dirt beneath her shoes every second of every day, constantly bullying her, calling her nasty names for seemingly simply existing. It's awful, so terrible to read. And on top of that, her mother will result to beating if she deems it necessary. It's a completely miserable existance, and leads to Mary acting drasticallly.
At 118 pages, Shut Up is a very quick read, but it's still a fully formed story and you can't help but get emotionally involved. It's very much like a car crash; it's such a difficult story to read, but you simply can't put it down, wondering if things get any better, or if they get worse. there are several instances in the book which lead you to make assumptions about what might be coming, which lead you to dread getting to the end, because you just don't want those things to happen. You can just feel your heart sink.
There are a few negatives, though. I feel it could have been better edited. There is an instance of where a word is repeated right after it's used, and another instance where Mary's first person narration changes to third; instead of Mary saying "myself", she says "herself". I also felt that some of the dialogue didn't feel natural, sentences that I felt a 12-year-old wouldn't use, or, when there were arguments, considering how much anger there was, some of the things said just didn't feel angry enough. It was a little disappointing, because it kind of jarred me out of the story, but the dialogue issues could just be down to personal preferences.
All in all, a very heart-wrenching, moving story, and one that hists you even a harder to know it's loosely based on the author's childhood. A really enjoyable read.