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Shut Up You're Pretty

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,206 ratings  ·  200 reviews
In Téa Mutonji's disarming debut story collection, a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in fish, and a young woman decides to shave her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. These punchy, sharply obs ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 1st 2019 by VS. Books
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  1,206 ratings  ·  200 reviews


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Jessica | JustReadingJess
Shut Up You’re Pretty by Tea Mutonji is a very good book that discusses a lot of important issues.

Shut Up You’re Pretty is a collection of stories about a Congolese girl and her family that immigrate to Canada and goes through her becoming a woman. The description makes it sound like Shut Up You’re Pretty is about different women. However, it is actually all about the same person from girlhood to becoming a woman.

Shut Up You’re Pretty starts with Loli having a buzz cut. She came to Canada with
...more
Catherine Hernandez
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book asks us to witness the journey of a girl into womanhood, holding in her arms the fragile understandings of femininity as a commodity, femininity as a caretaker, femininity as a storyteller. Dulled by the residue of trauma and sharpened by the expectations of the streets, Téa’s characters are painfully and beautifully rendered in this gritty must-read novel.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is the first book from the VS. Books Imprint at Arsenal Pulp, headed up by Vivek Shraya, who created the imprint to "create more inter­generational dialogue and support for artists of colour. Each year, Vivek offers a mentorship opportunity for a young writer who is Indigenous, Black, or a person of colour, as well as a publishing contract with Arsenal Pulp Press under the VS. Books imprint." I didn't know that when I requested the review copy, just thought the title was funny.

All the stori
...more
Mel (Epic Reading)
A very unique way to tell pieces of one girls story that entirely consists of her trying to keep her head above water. It includes commentary on virginity, prostitution, abortion, depression, friendship by users, and so much more!
I need some time to digest these impactful snippets of life. All written in a very realistic way: blood, semen, and urine included. Because let’s face it, life is messy.
Full RTC.
Erin
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Taking place in Scarborough, Ontario, this is a series of vignettes about Loli, a Congolese girl who accompanies her mother and brother and meets up with her father in Canada. The stories are the coming of age of a young woman who is confronted with many different sexual encounters and relationships in her neighborhood.

One thing I shared at bookclub was that as I perused different interviews with the author and critical reviews, I couldn't relate to the suggestion that Loli was a character read
...more
chantel nouseforaname
I love a book set in Scarborough/Toronto. You can feel everything, see everything. Especially if you're from the city. You can let the book walk you down the street.

I think Téa Mutonji's writing is beautiful. She writes with so much emotion and so much passion. Her main character Loli, you really go on her life's journey with her. You feel the pain of feeling secondary, her confusion and then realization of her power. You feel her feeling never quite enough and bouncing around looking for somet
...more
Margaryta
This is one of those rare moments when I don't know how I feel about a book. I neither loved nor hated "Shut Up You're Pretty." I agree with other reviewers who said it reads really easily; Mutonji's writing grabs your attention and carries it, although I think it would've worked a bit better if it was framed more as an experimental novel than as a series of short stories BECAUSE of how interconnected each of the pieces was. Similarly, the content of this book can be hard to stomach at times and ...more
Korrie’s Korner
Mar 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars.

I went into this book blind, not having any foreknowledge of what it might be about. This book was deep, and covered intense topics. It’s a collection of different stories about a girl that was an immigrant from Congolese to Canada, and covers a time span about a girl growing into adulthood. This book covers topics such as sexual identity, experimentation, teen pregnancy, depression, suicide, and of course race issues, and several more topics. I appreciate how the issues weren’t water
...more
Daniel
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
« I tried not to make everything about sex, every act of kindness, every well-wish, every hello. But you go through life being touched, you go through life being looked at, you go through life with an uncle commenting on your breasts, or your brother’s friend giving you a condom for your birthday then denying it, you go through life being called a cunt on public transportation, you go through life being followed at midnight, you go through life being told you’re pretty, you’re pretty, you’re so ...more
Kimberley
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Every woman’s journey to figuring out who she is, and how she deserves to be loved, is different. There’s no right or wrong way to get to those points, but if the starting point is littered with traumatic experiences and overwhelming confusion, as to what love is supposed to look like, then it can be messy.

This collection represents a microcosm, of sorts, of the ways in which the messiness can hinder the process of a woman “becoming” something more than a source of pleasure—sexual or otherwise—f
...more
Sofia
Jun 30, 2022 rated it it was ok
I didn’t like it at all tbh. I listened to the audiobook on Spotify which was kinda short (4 hours) which was good I guess. It’s a few short stories about a girl coming of age who has a few different sexual encounters and relationships.

I dont have a problem with reading/listening to books about sex or books that includes spicy scenes, BUT I get uncomfortable when the characters are too young and they are very young here! I understand that children and teens do it but it was a lot of in here. Al
...more
Maria
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read my full review on my blog, ReadingMaria.

All of the stories tie in well with each other, and the characters we meet along the way are all vital in their own way. I really admire how resourceful our narrator is; we see her go from one fall back to the next, and it was inspiring seeing her growth (despite her bad decisions).

Any Canadian Literature supporter would enjoy this book – especially those who have been interested in authors from Scarborough, like Carrianne Leung, Adrian De Leon, Cathe
...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Told in first person by a single female narrator common to each story, this collection speaks to the experiences of women in a post-coming-of-age setting... capturing the spaces imposed on women as they settle into their own identity. This was a refreshingly honest read, tinged with gritty realities (abortion and rape, to name just a few) that made for a compulsive and immersive read. I look forward to more works from this author and releases from this imprint!

Thanks to the publisher for an e-AR
...more
Leah
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Almost unbearably raw. Painfully honest. Exquisitely written.
I will never look at the corner of Lawrence and Galloway the same way.
Alice Tremblay
Feb 04, 2022 rated it really liked it
4,5 ⭐️

"Did we know each other, or were we only aware of each other’s habits?"
...more
Deirdre Kelly
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Téa Mutonji’s debut collection of stories has that rare distinction of being one of only a handful of books I have wanted to chuck in the trash. I rarely hate a book but I do hate this one. I can offer only a cursory analysis as to why as I don’t want to waste more energy on Shut Up, You’re Pretty than I already have. I am disappointed in this writer whose obvious flare for characterization, setting, atmosphere and dialogue — most evident in the first story, Tits for Cigs, a tale about how two 1 ...more
Kasia
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book does not read as a collection of short stories but more as a through-line narrative about a young Congolese woman growing up in Toronto. It handles difficult subject matter with honesty and resilience. Would highly recommend
2TReads
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
-Olivia had gotten into these sober parties as a new way to meet "normal women". You know the kind—broken but not finished, down on their knees but not yet weeping. Pretty but not pretty enough to be feared-.
🌺🌺🌺🌺
Tea Mutonji has written a collection of short stories that centres girlhood, womanhood and femininity in Shut Up You're Pretty. Loli comes of age in these stories and explores sexual expressions, friendships, romantic entanglements, complex familial ties and the power of being a woman a
...more
Zuri
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a wild ride. I was thinking of giving this 3 stars pretty much the whole time reading but when I closed the book I was like okay that was good. Mutonji is a fantastic writer. I don’t read a lot of fiction but when I do I prefer short stories collection, and I’ll likely check out whatever she puts out next. This isn’t a typical collection, each story is abt the same character, Loli, a Congolese immigrant to Canada, and it does move in a linear way where the first story/chapter is her as ...more
Mridula
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
I loved this book for its bold and brassy writing. Téa Mutoni uses simple prose when writing about difficult topics:

'...you go through life being touched, you go through life being looked at, you go through life with an uncle commenting on your breasts, or your brother's friend giving you a condom for your birthday then denying it, you go through life being called a cunt on public transportation, you go through life being followed at midnight, you go through life being told you're pretty, you'r
...more
Rebecca Meyrink
Mar 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
I thought this short story collection was going to be about different women but it was actually all about the same character, Loli, a girl who has immigrated to Canada from the Congo and her journey from childhood to adulthood. I really loved this debut collection and I thought it was amazingly well done. I felt instantly drawn to Loli and wanting only the best for her. The book covers a lot of challenging topics such as racism, immigration, sexual exploration, sex work, abuse etc. I highly reco ...more
sher ⚘ (hiatus galore)
the author read one of her stories on my campus and hearing it, i felt like i knew the place, setting, and atmosphere. i was hearing my little corner of toronto in the story and i felt it encapsulated perfectly! i can't wait to read the rest of it! ...more
Anna
i liked that the stories were all about the same character and were in chronological order. they weren't all super captivating but it was a quick read and i had a good time. ...more
Josh Hedgepeth
I mentioned I was reading this in my September 18th, 2020 Friday Reads.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC of this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I had mixed feelings about this set of short stories when I first started. I did not recognize that they were connected for the first four or five; that left me very confused. As stand-alone stories, I thought they were well written and had really provocative ideas they were exploring, but they never quite took it far enough. E
...more
Miranda
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, favorites
This collection of stories is so captivating and excellently written. Téa Mutonji gives so much life and realness to these stories about girlhood and womanhood; and feeling to loneliness, abuse, grief, and wanting to be loved but not really knowing how to be loved. 

I kept obsessively wondering why they are described as stories, seemingly about different characters, when in fact the collection follows the same main character from childhood to age 26.They are definitely written as separate stories
...more
Laurie Burns
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shorts, canadian
Great stories. I enjoyed reading it immensely.
Matt Knepper
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: left-bank-books
An incredible debut collection, this book is thin but dense. The stories follow a single main character, Loli, and explore race, femininity, and sexuality. Like a series of quick punches, these stories are direct and often blunt. Most are unsettling, and a few are especially gritty. All of them though, show Loli's vulnerability making her more relatable and adding to the author's poignancy and insight. ...more
Scott Baird (Gunpowder Fiction and Plot)
What a fantastic collection of short stories, which really shouldn't be called a collection of short stories more a novel; as all the short stories are linked, have the same protagonist and many minor characters.

A great exploration of sexuality (both the gender you prefer to sleep with and ones own desires), racism, prostitution and mental health to name but a few things.

Saving my star rating, I want to sit with it for a bit, but it's a high one.
...more
Rebecca
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
A raw and at times disturbing coming of age story following Loli, a young black immigrant, into her mid-twenty’s. Unflinching and real, Mutonji’s writing style is addictive, but not for the faint of heart. I eagerly await her next novel!

“There was just something so funny about childhood- how it attempts to prepare you for the slaughter. How it fails- how it is decorated like a nursery.”
Tina
Dec 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
So good!! Loved these stories!
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