Dare Me by Megan Abbott

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Okay, the title of this blog is Beers ‘N’ Books, so every once in a while I’m going to have to to review a book!

And this is one of the best of 2012 so far.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott is the story of high school cheerleaders.  Yes, high school cheerleaders.  And it’s one of the darkest books you’ll read.

When Addy and Beth, seniors on their high school squad, are introduced to their new coach they react in opposite ways.  Beth, always the ringleader of the team, doesn’t like how Coach French is breaking the team down and lifting all of them into stars.  Beth’s always been the star.  Addy, however, is experiencing life in ways she never thought possible, all because of Coach French.  While Addy and the rest of the team focus on their season, Beth begins to undermine Coach French.

And then there’s a suicide hits close to home.

To say any more would be the ruin the book. 

But know this, as a teacher, reading books about teenagers always has me walking a tight rope.  A lot of books get kids wrong.  They either play them too young and clueless, or too old and worldly.  Abbott hits the notes just right.  I believed that Abby, Beth, and the rest were real, breathing teenagers.  Their actions are true to the characters, and also true to the life of a current high school student.

Abbott pulls the reader a long with a light, sarcastic first person narrative, that builds tension slowly, until it feels as if the whole powder keg is about to blow.  This book is going to get compared to MEAN GIRLS a ton, but it’s feels to me to be closer to the underrated ASSASSINATION OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRESIDENT.

The ending will leave you breathless.  One last twist that feels totally true to the novel, yet at the same time comes out of left field.  It’ll have you flipping back the pages to make sure you read everything exactly right.

Abbott knocks this one out of the park.  Pre-order it now, and read it as soon as it’s in your hands.

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