Book Review: Dare You To

Author: Katie McGarry
ISBN: 9781743562666
RRP: $16.99

Dare You To is the eagerly anticipated sequel to Pushing The Limits, and it was everything I hoped it would be. This was another novel which brought me to tears, and that wouldn’t bother me half as much if it didn’t make it so difficult to continue reading.

Following the format of Pushing The Limits this novel is also written by two protagonists in alternating chapters, written without lots of repetitive rehashing and different perspectives of the same events. It’s more like we are following two separate people go about their daily lives, dealing with their own personal demons, and seeing each through the others eyes at times.

The first protagonist we meet is Ryan, a new character, in the midst of a dare by his adventurous friends. What started as one harmless dare at the beginning of the night escalated to an entire night collecting girls phone numbers and Ryan is set the last challenge, but his will be no easy score because Chris is determined to choose just the right girl to ensure Ryan has his work cut out for him. Who should walk in the door but a Skater Girl in all her black and torn clothes glory looking hardcore and unapproachable. It isn’t until she leaves the Taco Bell they are in that we find out who she is.

Ryan is a sportsman heading for a spot in major league baseball, always toeing the family line, even when it goes against everything that he wants. The Stone family are very big on appearances with Dad looking to run for Mayor and that means everything has to be above board, totally conservative and free from controversy. This family is the poster child for things not being what they seem because behind closed doors the cracks are really starting to show and Ryan is stuck with no-one to talk to about what is going on, or how he’s feeling. The golden child of the town is going to face some tough decisions before this book is done and my word is he going to learn a lot.

dare you to

Beth Risk was a secondary character in Pushing The Limits, one of Noah’s best friends. She was a prickly character who we got to know a little but we never really got inside her head. That’s no longer the case. Dare You To is her time to shine, we learn a lot about her past and where she’s come from and you can’t help but feel for her. An addicted mother in a disastrous and violent relationship, a long time absent father, a habit of her own and a reputation for being a little free with herself. The only things solid and stable in her life are her friendships with Isaiah and Noah. Things with Noah have changed since the addition of Echo to their circle but Isaiah has always been her rock, the steadying force in her tumultuous life but what will happen if she discovers things with Isaiah are not what they seem?

When we meet Beth again in Dare You To she races down to the bar that’s become her mums favourite hang out but arrives a little too late and discovers her mum smashing out the windows of her boyfriends car. Before long the police arrive, by which time the bat is in Beth’s hands. The boyfriend, whose name I can’t even remember, blames Beth and her mother does nothing to correct him, except wordlessly beg Beth not to argue because she is on probation. For as long as she can remember Beth has been trying to look out for her mum and save her from herself, and this time is no different. Beth takes the fall and allows the police to arrest her without argument.

An uncle descends on the police station and convinces her mother to sign over legal guardianship of Beth. He takes Beth away to live with him and lays down a list of rules that are going to prove very difficult for Beth to abide by. The biggest, and the hardest, is to leave her past behind her and start fresh. To leave her mum in her apartment at the mercy of her boyfriend and to walk away from the two constants in her life – the two people who have always been there for her and always had her back.

Of course Uncle Scott just happens to live in the same town as Ryan Stone, and he was a major league baseball player and one of Ryan’s idols so Ryan is only too happy to help when Scott asks him to show his new to town niece around; even after he discovers that she is the Skater Girl that burned him so well at Taco Bell.

McGarry brings to the fore many issues faced by teens. Through Beth’s relationship with her uncle we find out a lot more about her past and where she has come from which goes a very long way to helping us understand the way she is and why she’s finding it quite so hard to walk away. Slowly Beth and Ryan come to know one another, and trust one another, enough to risk it all. Beth slowly starts to walk away from her past, though it is a tough task and more than once she runs back to the familiar. Sometimes out of a sense of responsibility and sometimes just because she can’t bear to think of a life without Isaiah as her best friend by her side.

I love these characters, I love this story and I am already itching to read the next installment – Crash Into You – which is Isaiah’s story. There seems to be a recurring theme with this series. The golden child and the teen from the wrong side of the tracks are thrown together by someone in authority and the more they fight the harder they fall, until they fall for each other and discover that regardless of which side of the tracks you’re from you are going to discover that there are more similarities between you than things that set you apart. Yes, this is a little cliche and a part of me wants to see two kids from the same side of the tracks get together and discover that there is much more to them than meets the eye. At the same time I really don’t think that takes away from McGarry’s stories because her characters are extremely believable and totally likeable. You want them to battle their demons together and come through the other side stronger.



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