Dare Me

Reagan Arthur: Little, Brown. Jul. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780316097772. $24.99. F
Abbott's (The End of Everything) new novel takes readers behind the glitter and pom-poms of a varsity cheerleading squad to explore the dark undercurrents of high school girls. Captain Beth Cassidy, her first lieutenant Addy Hanlon, and the rest of the squad are upended when their school hires a new cheerleading coach. Sleek and knowing, Coach Collette French slices through their bravado and turns the girls into true athletes rather than merely "cheerlebrities." This results in an atmosphere in which some alpha girls falter, while others rise through the ranks. But the coach's relationship with the girls outside of school drags them into a very adult world of romantic entanglements, culminating in a shocking crime that threatens them all.
VERDICT Abbott has a keen sense for the beauty, danger, and vulnerability of teenage girls; her spare, elegant prose cuts straight to the heart of the high school pecking order and brings the girls' world to life. Recommended for readers who enjoy dramatic stories about female relationships; it may also appeal to mature young adult readers. [See Prepub Alert, 1/21/12; seven-city tour.]
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