A modern-day Lysistrata retelling that reinforces as many stereotypes as it overturns.
College student Keplinger (The DUFF, 2010) sets this version at Hamilton High School, where the football team and the soccer team are engaged in a 10-year-old rivalry. Lissa, obsessed with being in control since her mother's death in a car accident, is tired of her footballer boyfriend Randy's participation in pranks, food fights and seemingly endless cycles of revenge. Her decision to combat the problem by organizing a sex strike comes seemingly out of left field, but once the girlfriends of the two teams' players are united, they begin both supporting each other and comparing their own experiences with sexuality. The girls explore their shame about being labeled virgins, sluts or teases, whether any of the girls having sex actually enjoy it (it varies) and whether there's any such thing as normal when it comes to sex. Plenty of assumptions go uninterrogated, however: Only boys play sports, sex is far more important to boys than to girls and everybody is heterosexual. Cash Sterling, the romantic lead, bosses and wheedles Lissa far less than Randy but still intervenes in her life in ways discerning readers might consider invasive.
Enjoyable as a conversation-starter, but let's hope real-life conversations take a more critical approach to gender politics. (Fiction. 14 & up)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Given that Keplinger (The DUFF) is using Lysistrata as the basis for her sophomore novel, it should come as little surprise that sex is at the heart of it. Her modernization of Aristophanes's play, in which women withheld sex from their husbands to persuade them to end the Peloponnesian War, has high school girls using the same tactic on their boyfriends, who are involved in an escalating rivalry between the football and soccer teams. Lissa, who is dating stereotypically oafish football player Randy, gets the other players' girlfriends to agree to the plan, and the girls bond over their experiences with the sex strike while relationships are put to the test. Keplinger has picked a hefty topic, but her characters lack the complexity to pull off a real triumph of girl power. There are some honest, sensitive, and surprising conversations about sex and relationships, and the overall crassness (both in terms of sex and casual profanity) creates a realistic high-school environment. But there isn't much more insight to be had than in your average teen sex (or in this case no-sex) comedy. Ages 15-up. (Sept.)¦[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
Gr 9 Up--The rivalry within Hamilton High remains strong and bitter 10 years after the school board diverted funds from the football program in order to form a soccer team. Frustrated when the pranks and hazing interfere with her relationship with her footballer boyfriend, Lissa organizes meetings between the girlfriends of football and soccer players, during which they pledge a "sex strike" until the feuding ends. The pact backfires when Randy humiliates Lissa at the homecoming dance, revealing very personal information and potentially causing a rift between her and the girlfriends. To complicate matters, Lissa rekindles her crush on Cash, her library coworker and a soccer star. When the strike threatens to become more intense than the actual rivalry, the pact takes on some unintended significance, and several characters must face revelations about their sexuality. This is an honest portrayal of double standards among high school students; girls who clearly enjoy sex are considered sluts, boys with multiple sexual conquests are studs, and girls who maintain their virginity are teases. Although the story idea is a clever modern adaptation of Lysistrata, the execution falls rather flat, resulting in lesser issues, such as parental loss, being introduced but not fully integrated within the story. Current pop and cultural references keep things lively and the language is not quite locker room, but close. Fans of Keplinger's The DUFF (Little, Brown, 2010) will be entertained, but those hoping for more depth will be disappointed.--Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA[Page 158]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.