‘Welcome to the world of hardcore cheerleaders’ – Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Welcome to the world of cheerleaders! Not the silly pink pom-pom shaking ones but the hard-core athletes who train every day and survive on potassium broth, the ones who do hundreds of tucks at a time and crave KitKats only to vomit them back out in order to stay thin. Doesn’t sound too exciting? Or at least not if you are over twenty and don’t want to remember your teenage angst, or if you are not at all curious to find out what everyone else did while you practised your piano and learnt French. Or was that just me? But come on, brace yourself and you will be greatly rewarded, for Megan Abbott’s new novel is one of the best I have ever read when it comes to small-town teenage girls. Or cheerleaders.

Besides, there will be a crime, and an extremely well-plotted one. But first things first.

There are two girls – Addy and Beth. They are best friends, and as it often happens, the harmony in their touching friendship is achieved by one of them – Beth – being the boss, and the other – obviously Addy – being Beth’s sidekick. They are both in a cheerleading crew, and Beth is the captain and the top girl (if you are not familiar with the cheerleading terminology, you have to read the book). But then comes new coach Colette French, a young beautiful woman with a husband, a daughter and some secrets.

As you would expect, Coach French seems very cool to the girls, or at least to everyone apart from Beth who becomes jealous, a situation exacerbated  by the fact that Coach announces that there will be no more captain. Add to that the fact that the girls are bored, Coach is bored and Coach’s husband is just boring. Or so it seems. Or maybe he is. But anyway, there you have the perfect plot. Well, that and some other important facts that I cannot disclose for the fear of spoiling it for you.

All in all, Dare Me is a great portrait of young girls in their last year of making it through boredom, with tons of free time and an urge to finally start living their lives. The twists of the plot and some shocking antics of the characters will keep you reading and the tension will stay high right until the end. I doubt it will change your life forever, but then imagine what it would be like if every book you read changed your life! We are not teens anymore, after all.

Any Cop?: A crime novel with a twist – or a tuck – that you will want to read in one go.

 

Maia Nikitina

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