Monday, July 30, 2012

DARE ME by Megan Abbott

    Dark, dangerous, innocent, erotic, completely addictive reading as Edgar winner Megan Abbott takes us into the exclusive world of high school cheerleaders.  These girls are adolescents, yes, but are told they have the hearts of warriors.  Scars and bruises are signs of achievement, and a wanton flip of their skirts signals trouble.  For them cheer is not simply an extra curricular activity, it is life   As one girl puts it, “God, it must be terrible not to be on cheer.  How would you know what to do?”

    Beth has been the unchallenged captain of the cheerleaders squad barking orders in a rough voice and ridiculing those who can’t comply.  Addy, her best friend, has been her lieutenant always following in Beth’s wake, never questioning.  The girls text each other late into the night bonding, telling secrets and desires.

    All of this changes when a new coach, Colette French, arrives.  She’s in command and going to turn the squad into a regional winner.  They’ll build up their strength, master stunts they would never have dared - pyramids that send the top girl flying into the air.  All the girls save for Beth fall under coach’s spell, sharing dreams, experiences, too much wine.  Addy is coach’s favorite, the one in whom she chooses to confide.

    While the squad is being transformed into a top team Beth is on the outside, jealous, vengeful.  However, all is not golden as the girls would have it appear - intense rivalries develop, eating disorders plague some, insecurities blossom along with their talent.

    Then suddenly just before the important game there is a mysterious death that affects the coach and her girls.  Addy finds herself caught between belief, loyalty and conscience.

    Abbott has spun one more astute, compelling tale, a taut psychological thriller that reveals the troubled,  questing minds of young girls.

    - Gail Cooke

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