by Katie McGarry
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."
"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again...."I dare you..." 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....
I adored Pushing the Limits with Noah and Echo and was excited to read Dare You To by Katie McGarry. I found it to be a raw, brutally honest portrayal of a dysfunctional family and the depiction of the main character, her emotions and struggles felt breathtakingly real. I quickly consumed this and look forward to the third book Crash Into You. Three-word review: raw, emotional, realistic.
In this second book, we get up close and personal with Beth Risk and the drama she faces on a daily basis as she tries to take care of her mother. When the cops are called, Beth takes the heat and is whisked away to her Uncle’s home. A new school, the loss of her friends, an Aunt who doesn’t want her and the need to protect her Mom have Beth looking to escape. She meets Ryan Stone; high school athlete and dropped dead gorgeous. He’s able to get under her skin and begins to peck away at the carefully constructed wall she has built around herself. The tale that unfolds was bittersweet as Beth learns she is not her mother’s keeper.
Beth is angry, loud, fouled mouthed, and broken. Despite being annoying at times, I couldn’t help but love her. She loves her friends Noah and Isaiah and works so hard to take care of her mother. She has been abused and taken advantage of. She dresses in black, even dyes her golden tresses black. She smokes pot and drinks just to escape and dull the pain. I knew someone very much like her in high school. Her emotions, fears, and reactions rang so true. Her self-esteem is a mess, she is snarky and attacks when her emotions threaten to surface. Isaiah and Noah are present in some scenes but this is really Beth’s story. They realize she needs to be separated from her mother. Her interaction with Isaiah is emotional and felt very surreal. Ryan is a guy who looks like he has the world in his pocket. He is a good kid trying to please everyone. Athletic, with a killer smile you cannot help but like him. He has family secrets and the perfect nuclear family you see isn’t the one that reveals itself within the walls of their home. The romance was slow to build and I enjoyed watching it unfold. I felt all of the characters were fleshed-out and the secondary characters in school are the classic ones that seem to creep into every story. We get the mean girl, who does catty things, the well-meaning friends and the classic sidekicks.
While the romance takes a lot of stage time, there is a lot more to McGarry’s story. She addresses some really big issues, like homosexuality, drug abuse, physical abuse and the effects these play on children and families. The tale focuses on Beth and her issues and this was well done. Beth is broken, has abandonment issues as well as trust issues. I loved seeing her grow, and trust. There are some raw tender moments throughout the novel and not just between the couple. The romance developed slowly and there is some heat, but it was discreet. The interaction between Beth and her Uncle touched me, as did a few other events. Overall, I think McGarry delivered and while it isn’t always easy to get all warm and fuzzy about Beth you have to appreciate what a realistic character the author created.
If you loved Pushing the Limits then Dare You To is a must read. While the two books are connected Dare You To would work well as a standalone too. These novels push the YA envelope and I would recommend this for more mature young adults. The next book Crash Into You will be published November 26, 2013, and share Isaiah’s story.
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