Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dare Me - Megan Abbott (Audio)

OK, lots of noise on the Net about this one, all positive.  A mystery!  Mean girls!  Snark!  I could almost imagine the loads of nasty, promiscuous narcissism!  And see, to me this is easy reading.  This is exactly what you would expect from a book about a group of current-day cheerleaders.  Hey, the cheerleading politics were pretty bad even in my day!  

It took like three months for me to get to the front of the line for the audio at the library.  This was another good sign.  I couldn't wait.

Synopsis: Addy Hanlon and and Beth Cassidy have been best friends forever, and there has always been an understanding about their relationship.  Beth is in charge, and Addy is Beth's lieutenant.  Beth decides who gets to be popular, sets the trends, gets the first pick of boys.  She is the captain of the Varsity cheerleading squad too, until a new, young beautiful coach shows up at the beginning of their Senior year.  

Coach French is suddenly a threat to the social structure as it has always existed.  She draws the cheerleaders into her life, befriends them, advises them on not only their athletics but on their weight and their boyfriends.  She simultaneously knocks Beth off her pedestal and takes Beth's toy - Addy - under her wing and into her confidence about matters no teenage girl should know about.  Then suddenly things take a sinister turn.

There is a suicide that draws a spotlight on the cheer squad.  Was it really a suicide or was it murder?  Who was involved?  What is the motive?  Jealousy?  Shame?  Ambition?  Lust?  Or just plain, old-fashioned crazy?

My thoughts:  This was definitely one book that plays with your head.  It is nearly impossible to be without opinion.  The behavior of ambitious, self-absorbed teenage girls ALONE is horrific.  Is it realistic, this portrayal?  It is edgy but not too far off the mark in my opinion.  I was not a cheerleader in high school, but some of my friends were.  And even 30 years ago in a rural community, it was pretty brutal.  Mean, bully-ish, political.  There is one girl from my high school class who is still harboring ill feelings to this day over things that happened when we were 16.  So I think Abbott nailed it on that front.  

Then there is the behavior of the coach, a person who has personal issues of her own.  While she is not a pedophile, the damage she is doing to these girls is bad enough to warrant an equally harsh label.  The relationship she establishes between herself and these girls is so totally inappropriate.  I was enraged!  And WHERE THE HELL ARE THE PARENTS???  With the exception of a drunk mother sashaying on and off the stage a few times, there were no present parents concerned about the crazy coach, the emergency calls at 3:00am, girls starving themselves, or taking risks with these crazy cheerleading maneuvers.  

The mystery is worthy of any good crime novel.  I had no idea what was going on, and all of my suspicions were wrong, wrong, wrong.

Overall, this was a very satisfying, very disturbing street-level view of the dark side of the modern teenage girl.

A few words about the audio production:  The narrator for this audio was Khristine Hvam, who was new to me but has definitely built up a respectable resume of some very popular YA titles, as well as voice-overs in TV and video games.  She was the perfect mix of youth and snotty, snarky teen-ness to make this listen very authentic and enjoyable.


Audio book length:  9 hours and 10 minutes (304 pages)

4.5 out of 5 stars      

        

12 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I really liked this one too! When Vance was in high school, many parents ignored behavior like that and gave their kids free rein. I hugged every kid who walked through our door so I knew who was smoking and drinking yet their parents acted oblivious. Oh, the stories I could tell you!

Julie P. said...

As a mom to a teen daughter, this book scared me to death!

Jackie Bailey said...

I'm not sure I want to read this one. The bitchiness of teenagers annoys me a lot and I'm not sure I want to be reminded of it.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds good except that I think it would make me too mad!

JoAnn said...

I'm not sure I want to read this one either. My 'babies' turned 20 last week and I am thanking God we made it through the teenage years (relatively) unscathed.

Zibilee said...

I am on the fence. I have a teenage daughter, and it's already enough with the snark and meanness, but to get into the thick of things and see how it really is? I don't know if I can handle it, but I'm sure I will read the book now that you've loved it so much.

Michele said...

Okay, I am all over this one. It sounds right up my alley!

Nise' said...

This was dark and twisty and I liked it. I was a cheerleader in middle school and wanted no part of it in high school. My daughter was a cheerleader in HS at a Christian school and there was a level of it even there. Just finished another "mean girl" novel, Here I Go Again. It was good.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

My two older ones survived high school, but I have one more to go :( I wouldn't normally think about reading something like this, but something about your description is teasing me. Maybe I'll give this one a shot this summer.

Ti said...

I was a cheerleader and it was difficult sometimes just to get through the day! Those girls were bitches! Funny though, they have grown up and are all friends of mine today on Facebook but lordy... they did stuff like cut your hair when you were standing in front of them or pop balloons that were given to you as a gift. Nasty girls!

Melissa said...

I was able to grab this one from the library with no wait! Just what I needed for a long car ride on Monday.

Tasha B. said...

I am intrigued, Sandy!