So I just finished Dare Me, the newest book out by Megan Abbott. I already am a huge fan of her writing, her ability to pull you into the lives and thoughts of the characters in her books and put a noir-ish, moody, palpable perspective on the steaming, pulsing, vivid stories they have to tell. Dare Me centers around a competitive cheer squad in a suburban high school, but it could be any sport, or cutthroat debate team, or activity in which the students derive their identities and reason for existing from the sport or team. The twisty and unexpected relationship between Addy, the protagonist, and her Alpha best friend Beth, to whom she has always served as Lieutenant in cheer squad and in life, is turned upend when a new, strict, complicated Coach arrives. What follows is fascinating, gripping, textured. I got more out of the interplay and complexities of the relationships than the insight into competitive cheering, but I definitely loved being along for the ride.
And the other book by Megan Abbott that I have read recently, while different in tone and structure, is also fantastic. The End of Everything, centers around young teenager Lizzie and her best friend Evie. When Evie is seen being driven off in a strange car, the saga and intrigue of the missing girl heightens and Lizzie becomes an amateur detective, trying to understand what happened, but more importantly, why. Why did Evie get in that car? In compellingly descriptive prose, Abbott weaves a tale of intrigue, twisting in hints of secrets kept, how love can be expressed in ways that are beautiful and in ways that are horrifying, and how teenage girls and their crash course into growing up can alter them as well as those around them in dangerous ways.
Both of these books have endings that are haunting, jolting, brilliant. Loved them. Do read.