An unforgettable YA debut about two Latina teens growing up in East Oakland as they discover that the world is brimming with messy complexities, perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Erika L. Sánchez.
Belén Dolores Itzel del Toro wants the normal stuff: to experience love or maybe have a boyfriend or at least just lose her virginity. But nothing is normal in East Oakland. Her father left her family. She’s at risk of not graduating. And Leti, her super-Catholic, nerdy-ass best friend, is pregnant—by the boyfriend she hasn’t told her parents about, because he’s Black, and her parents are racist.
Things are hella complicated.
Weighed by a depression she can’t seem to shake, Belén helps Leti, hangs out with an older guy, and cuts a lot of class. She soon realizes, though, that distractions are only temporary. Leti is becoming a mother. Classmates are getting ready for college. But what about Belén? What future is there for girls like her?
From debut author Carolina Ixta comes a fierce, intimate examination of friendship, chosen family, and the generational cycles we must break to become our truest selves.
Carolina Ixta is a writer from Oakland, California. A daughter of Mexican immigrants, she received her BA in creative writing and Spanish language and literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and obtained her master’s degree in education at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently an elementary school teacher whose pedagogy centers critical race theory at the primary education level. Shut Up, This Is Serious is her debut novel.
“The warmth and realness of Carolina Ixta’s heartfelt debut Shut Up, This Is Serious is palatable. With each passing page, I drifted away into these visceral descriptions of Oakland girlhood. I love these complicated, smart, and funny characters. I feel like I need a bumper sticker: Belén and Leti are my homegirls! That way, I can sing this book’s praises wherever I roam." — Kali Fajardo-Anstine, bestselling author of Woman of Light and Sabrina & Corina
“Carolina Ixta is a master storyteller, weaving a visceral, soul-searing debut. Shut Up, This Is Serious shows the depth of best friendship, the heartbreak of being abandoned by a parent, and the powerful revelations of a teenage girl as she navigates relationships, sex, and her mental health. This book will grab you and refuse to let go, and by the end you will have fallen in love with the beautiful, lyrical prose, the un-put-downable plot, and most of all, Belén herself.” — Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Pura Belpré Award-winning author of How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe
"Shut Up, This Is Serious accomplishes an impressive feat in its brilliant display of a young girl's complicated life with language that startles and stuns, daring to trust you with the lush interiority of a teenage girl's contention with sex, race, and family. This novel is an unabashedly funny and honest depiction of Oakland, girlhood, and friendship that doesn't hesitate in its piercing accuracy while upholding the beauty and awkwardness of the world these characters inhabit." — Leila Mottley, New York Times bestselling author of Nightcrawling
"Despite the book’s exploration of painful subjects, Belén’s strong, tell-it-like-it-is voice and wry humor don’t court readers’ pity. The novel treats issues of misogyny, domestic violence, and racism as realities to be dealt with, not character-defining moments of transformation, and the story’s tension is rooted in the question of whether Belén and Leti will break free from cycles of generational trauma and forge their own futures. This addictively readable novel is a loving portrait of growing up Mexican American and female in Oakland. A stunning debut from a powerful new voice." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"[A] stirring novel about dysfunctional family dynamics, intergenerational trauma, and toxic parenting. Itxa steadfastly approaches sensitive topics such as abuse, anxiety, depression, teen pregnancy, racism, and sex work via compassionately wrought prose. Belén and Leti’s affectionate friendship provides levity to the high-stress situations, and a charismatic supporting cast and sharp dialogue propel this unforgettable debut." — Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Ixta’s debut will leave many shedding tears over this emotionally captivating tale about a tough, first-generation Mexican American who does her best to navigate life." — Booklist, starred review
"This realistic novel lays bare the ways in which some of the most harmful damage a young girl can experience happens in the home. Belén witnesses the infidelity of her father and that of Leti’s father, as well as the abuse visited upon Leti’s body. Belén, the observant one, is belittled and treated with contempt for the behavior of the father. Yet she can still love deeply and begin the act of forgiving and healing. Readers will be inspired by Belén’s path to healing but not before it makes them ugly cry." — SLJ, starred review
"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." — Horn Book Magazine