Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Summary (from Goodreads):
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all.
So, I absolutely loved McGarry’s debut: Pushing the Limits. It was one of my favorite books of 2012. I saved this one for the week my parents were up visiting me. I figured it would make a good vacation/beach read. And it did.
I didn’t think it was quite as good as the first one. There wasn’t as much mystery surrounding Beth as there was Echo. Not everything about Beth was revealed right away either. But, it’s pretty easy to tell what her backstory is. And it’s pretty easy to tell what her mother is into. But, it’s not even really the lack of a suspenseful mystery that made it not quite as good. I guess it’s more the believability factor. What are the chances that everyone in this motley crew is going to find their soul mate in high school?
This motley crew has foster kids, kids abused physically by their parents, kids who have been victimized, subjugated, and violated. And they all find each other. And they all find love? It’s just a little hard for me to believe. I kind of love when authors do companion novels and old friends make cameos. But, I feel like this actually would have been stronger without that aspect. It would have at least been a little more believable.
It’s also rather formulaic. But what romances aren’t? I kind of need these stories sometimes. The stories you know will have a happy ending –where the characters who have suffered and been through it all, finally get some inkling of hope. And I particularly love romances between two unlikely candidates. Beth and Ryan are so not what I thought they would be. And never in a million years would I have thought that they would work well together, but they do.
I love that McGarry is able to write romance between two such opposing characters.  And I love that the romance is defined by so much more than a love-at-first-sight moment. The characters’ messed up lives influence each action they take so immensely. Beth would do anything for her friends and family. And Ryan just needs to get away from his family. Neither of them have it easy (no matter what appearances make it seem like), and I loved that they could confide their problems with each other.
I super enjoyed this one. I read it very fast. I loved the two main characters (who were both a little hard to love at first). I loved the baseball elements. I loved the slow-building, realistic romance. It was missing a little of the suspense of McGarry’s first novel. It was also just a little too hard for me to believe that every kid from a messed up background in this town can find their soul mate in high school. I give it a 8/10. And I definitely am looking forward to Isaiah’s story, even though I think I might have a very similar reaction to it.

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