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I Belong

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To

Author: Katie McGarry

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: Pushing the Limits (Book 2)

Publication Date: May 28, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages

ISBN-10: 0373210639 (Harlequin Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0373210633 (Harlequin Teen)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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….

Quick & Dirty: A different type of dynamic between two people. Filled with intensity, two people find a way to belong, to their families and to each other.

Opening Sentence: I’m not interested in second place.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Katie McGarry knows how to write teenage angst. Dare You To is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series, and it is definitely filled with despair and anguish. Contemporary fiction for the young adult crowd can be a hit or miss. I always feel that there’s this fine line to be crossed when it comes to high school and realistic scenarios. But McGarry knows how to balance her topics well, giving a serious outlook on realistic topics while giving the reader a glimmer of hope. Like I’ve said before, McGarry harmonizes between two elements and makes you crave for more. Dare You To is exactly that.

Ryan Stone is an all-star baseball player, headed for the big leagues. He is popular and is everyone’s friend, but has secrets he cannot share with anyone. He has a tight-knit group of friends who love to dare each other. A dare brings him to cross paths with Beth Risk. Beth is from the preverbial wrong side of the tracks. She protects her mom at all costs, even if it gets her in trouble. One day, Beth’s uncle comes back to town and forces her to live with him, using her mom’s freedom as an ultimatum. Ryan and Beth seem to have a lot more in common than they think, healing each other along the way.

Beth wasn’t someone that I warmed up to right away. But I think that was McGarry’s point. Beth was closed off to anything resembling an emotional connection. Beth’s story was harsh and honest, adding a sense of brutality. It was eye opening and sad, and I couldn’t help but feel for her. Beth is full of spunk and has an honesty that is almost insensitive. She is a determined person, with only one goal in mind: to save her mom. It’s a type of love that’s not always talked about, and maybe that’s okay, but the way McGarry spoke about it was real enough to feel.

Ryan isn’t perfect. On the surface, his life is cookie cutter perfection. But as I got to know him a little better, I slowly saw the flaws and cracks of the immaculate life. He did things because he thought it was right, respecting people that he always respected. And Ryan did it regardless if he thought he was going to fail. His love for Beth was fierce, loving her enough to put it all on the line.

McGarry took a real setting and added a new life to it. From the different places she staged her scenes, she knew how to use her backgrounds. They never hindered or took away from what was taking place. And with the nature of the topics, it is a really good thing.

Drug abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and homosexuality are talked about in Dare You To. But as I was reading, McGarry allowed me to see someone else’s dream and hopes get crushed. It’s heartbreaking to read those scenes. At times, I felt like the emotions I felt overshadowed what was going on. But I think it was due because McGarry knows how to write angst.

McGarry’s characters evoke emotions, her world allows for a sense of reality to take place in fiction, and her writing takes control and never looks back. I absolutely feel that you will enjoy Dare You To. Pick it up and read it today.

Notable Scene:

“Thanks. You have no idea how much this means to me.” Scott relaxes as if he dropped a hundred-pound bag of feed. The bell over the clothing shop chimes. Scot places a hand on my shoulder and gestures at the shop. “Ryan, I’d like you to meet my niece, Elisabeth.”

She walks out of the shop and crosses her arms over her chest. Black hair. Nose ring. Slim figure with a hint of curves. White shirt with only four buttons clasped between her breasts and belly button, fancy blue jeans, and an eye-roll the moment she sees me. My stomach drops as if I swallowed lead. This is possibly the worst day of my life.

Pushing the Limits Series:

1. Pushing the Limits

1.5 Crossing the Line

2. Dare You To

3. Crash Into You (November 23, 2013)

FTC Advisory: Harlequin Teen provided me with a copy of Dare You To.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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