Dare Me by Megan Abbott Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Dare Me

Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy’s best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they’re seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls — until the young new coach arrives.

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Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach’s golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as “top girl” — both with the team and with Addy herself.

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death — and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.

The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power. Award-winning novelist Megan Abbott, writing with what Tom Perrotta has hailed as “total authority and an almost desperate intensity,” provides a harrowing glimpse into the dark heart of the all-American girl.
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    karen

    Apr 18, 2012

    rated it
    really liked it

    megan abbott knows all the secrets of being a girl, and she keeps on spilling them, book after book.”it’s fun to be a girl!!” nah, man, it’s not. have you ever seen the feet of an actual ballerina? (view spoiler)it’s like that – underneath all the pink frills and the careful make-up, there is a horrorshow waiting to be revealed, and it’s anything but pretty and elegant.

    this book is neither her girl noir nor her coming-of-age style, but some sort of seam where they both meet. the

    this book is neither her girl noir nor her coming-of-age style, but some sort of seam where they both meet. the back cover claims this is “a fight club among cheerleaders”, which isn’t bad, but it reminded me more of Eating The Cheshire Cat, a book no one has read, and so unsuitable for a tempting comparison, but whatever.

    this book is much better than that one, anyway.

    this is a thriller/murder mystery tucked into a more interesting story about what happens when a group of young girls falls under the spell of a charismatic leader, in this case, their new cheerleading coach. it is about competition and burgeoning sensuality and the long long memories of teenage girls.

    but this is megan abbott restrained. it is as though someone told her to use fewer pretty words and focus on the story.

    that doesn’t mean she doesn’t occasionally come out with this heart-stopping shit:

    -my question is this:

    the new coach. did she look at us that first week and see past the glossed hair and the shiny legs, our glittered brow bones and girl bravado? see past all that to everything beneath, all our miseries, the way we all hated ourselves but much more everyone else? could she see past all of that to something else, something quivering and real, something poised to be transformed, turned out, made? see that she could make us, stick her hands in our glitter-gritted insides and build us into magnificent teen gladiators?

    abbott has done something here for cheerleading, for the athleticism of it. i didn’t come from a high school where cheerleading was any big deal. pom pom and butt shaking, short skirts – nothing to make you sit up and take notice.

    but these girls are single-minded, furious. and under the leadership of coach french they are indeed transformed into machines, into bodies that respond, into an ostensible hive-mind that is all trust on the surface, and all back-stabbing behind the scenes. and these girls can fly.

    a really nice touch is that, in this book, the girls aren’t the beloved centers of the high-school hierarchy. they are not the popular girls. the rest of the school pretty much sees them as frivolous bitches and don’t really interact with them, so their entire social experience is lived within this squad, making their allegiance even tighter, but also intensifying the rivalries.

    never has a book made me feel so…fat. i have read a ton of books where characters have eating disorders, but they usually just make me hungry. this one – these girls are so strong and so starved, living on tea and hydroxycut and cigarettes. chewing muffins and spitting them out as a real treat. and yet they are capable of so much sheer power, despite so many instances of near-fainting. but i felt like a complete potato the entire time i was reading this. thanks, megan abbott!

    still, i can forgive her when she breaks my heart so easily:

    she has so much pride that, even if i’m weary of her, of her fighting ways, her gauntlet-tossing, i can’t say there isn’t something else that beams in me. an old ember licked to fresh fire again. beth, the old beth, before high school, before ben trammel, all the boys and self-sorrow, the divorce and the adderall and the suspensions.

    that beth at the bike racks, third grade, her braids dangling, her chin up, fists knotted around a pair of dull scissors, peeling into brady carr’s tire. brady carr, who shoved me off the spinabout, tearing a long strip of skin from my ankle to my knee.

    tugging the rubber from his tire, her finger nails ripped red, she looked up at me, grinning wide, front-teeth gapped and wild heroic.

    how could you ever forget that?

    such a casual paragraph that distils everything about young-girl obsessive relationships and their growing-apart. this is what i wanted more of.

    and this:

    when we’re walking out, i look back at him, and his face looks troubled, like years ago, eighth grade, and my dad, who no longer bothers, watching me as i left the house with beth, our bodies suddenly so ripe and comely and there was nothing they could do.

    parents are non-entities throughout this book. beth’s mother is given maybe two pages of ineffectual page-time, and at one point, addy’s father leaves her a note. these are girls finding their own way, going wild and living a glittery version of thug life, whose foundation is cheerleading. theirs are lives lived in a constant state of manipulation, where they anticipate each other’s next moves with slitted eyes and the mental acuity of chess players. on-court, their actions are all about trusting each other not to let them fall, but off-court, it is a different ball game altogether.

    and the arrival of coach french and all that happens just fans those flames into a bonfire.

    i know i have only given her books four stars, but that’s because i am waiting. she has quickly become one of my favorite authors, although this one is my least favorite of my four-stars. it is a great psychological thriller that is at the same time “a harrowing exploration into the dark heart of the all-american girl,” but it doesn’t have those claustrophobically packed sentences that i have loved from some of her other books. and for most people – that would be an improvement, but i love writers who manipulate language like she can – who give you everything in a sentence – who stretch their prose to bursting. this is more streamlined and conventional, in that way. the story itself is a better-than-average thriller that forces the reader into uncomfortable situations and offers plenty of twists, but it didn’t make me howl.

    and why oh why is she listed as a “young adult” author on here? i do not want to use my librarian powers to change this until i know for sure that there is a good reason. she does not write YA. her noir stuff is definitely not YA, and this one and The End of Everything, while they feature young girls at the center of the story are in no way suitable for the YA audience.

    that’s tricky, right? because she captures everything about teen girls that is vicious and tender and lost and confused and deeply sexual, but it is through this filter of knowing adult sensibilities that i think would be completely inappropriate for a younger audience. although i still feel it is scarily accurate in its depiction.

    although i think if she did write YA, she would be amazing at it. i think she could foster an entire generation of strong, cool, toughgirls.

    like this

    or this

    but classy, you know?

    girls that could kick your ass but reapply their lip gloss afterward

    so i don’t know… maybe she should be listed as YA after all…bring on the girl gangs!
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    Emily May

    Jan 01, 2013

    rated it
    really liked it

    Shelves:
    2013


    “There’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls.”

    How can I describe this book? Well, if Bunheads had a manic, intense and obsessive older sister, then this would definitely be it. Dare Me is about teenage girls – and cheerleaders in particular – straddling the line between childhood and the big world of adults but it isn’t a tale that conjures up the usual images that high school cheerleading brings with it. This is an intense book about obsession, sexuality and competition. I t

    How can I describe this book? Well, if Bunheads had a manic, intense and obsessive older sister, then this would definitely be it. Dare Me is about teenage girls – and cheerleaders in particular – straddling the line between childhood and the big world of adults but it isn’t a tale that conjures up the usual images that high school cheerleading brings with it. This is an intense book about obsession, sexuality and competition. I think back once again to Bunheads and how that tells of the dark realities of ballet dancing, it isn’t a nice pretty world of tutus and female friendship – you have to be ridiculously self-disciplined and ferociously competitive. That’s what these cheerleaders are like, no sitting around being bitchy and doing Mean Girls walks through the school, they work hard to perform the routines.

    I can see in some ways why this book has a low average rating. For one thing, this isn’t a nice story, teen girls explore their own sexualities and the mention of underage sex may make some readers uncomfortable. Make no mistake, this may be a book about teenagers but it is very much an adult novel. And, for another thing, the girls develop an extremely unhealthy obsession with weight loss in order to keep trim for the routines; but, as much as I hate the idea of forcing your body into an unnaturally skinny shape, this is the harsh reality for many athletes and/or dancers: hard exercise and hard dieting.

    The murder mystery in Dare Me is only a small part of the excitement, much more thrilling for me was the focus on teen girls and their obsession with a new leader – in this case, the cheerleading coach. The new coach is beautiful, charismatic and vicious, she challenges them to be better than they are and she eventually becomes the centre of their almost godlike worship. The narrator (Addy) pauses at one point to think back on the very first moment when the coach arrived:

    Did she look at us that first week and see past the glossed hair and the shiny legs, our glittered brow bones and girl bravado? See past all that to everything beneath, all our miseries, the way we all hated ourselves but much more everyone else? Could she see past all of that to something else, something quivering and real, something poised to be transformed, turned out, made? See that she could make us, stick her hands in our glitter-gritted insides and build us into magnificent teen gladiators?

    In my opinion, the writing was exactly that perfect magical blend of pretty without being purplish. Abbott doesn’t overdo it, she waits for the right moment and then pulls out a little gem like the one above to make sure you’re kept in the mood of the novel.

    I also think I found this novel at the perfect time, it seemed to catch my eye just when I’d been discussing the portrayal of cheerleaders in American movies and books after reading Storm. Often, cheerleaders are there as male eye-candy or as the bitchy, popular girls to stand as a comparison against the girl next door-type we are supposed to root for. In the UK, not many high schools have cheerleading teams, so opinion of them doesn’t tend to stem from high school cliques and my only contact with cheerleaders has been on professional, competing teams. I love the way Dare Me completely ignores the stereotype and takes us into a world where it isn’t about boyfriends and popularity, it’s about fierce competition. Here the cheerleaders are not the centre of popularity but outcasts, living in a sphere separate from the rest of high school reality. They live and breathe the competition. It’s intense. It’s obsessive. It’s a little scary.

    Most girls have an intense friendship with another girl while growing up, the kind of relationship that comes only through the sharing of childhood secrets, first crushes and hidden fears, through sleepovers where neither of you sleep. Dare Me is about these friendships and it’s also about the breakdown of them… I don’t think it matters how many great friends you make afterwards, there’s still always something a little sad about looking back on your first friendship and remembering how you grew apart.

    In short, I really really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to everyone who likes something a bit edgy and different.
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    kari

    Aug 21, 2012

    rated it
    did not like it

    Shelves:
    total-crap

    Sad,ugly characters doing sad,ugly things to one another. This is supposed to be what is in the heart and mind of the all-American girl? I’m not buying that.
    This is how Addy sees herself: p. 258 “You see these glitters and sparkledust and magicks? It’s war paint, it’s feathers and claws, it’s blood sacrifice.”
    Who the heck is she at war with? Herself? Who are any of them at war with? Why are any of them so angry? If I am expected to care, then explain to me why they are this way. Otherwise don’t


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