Before we delved into our discussion of Dare Me, E. had a big announcement for us: she had gotten engaged a couple of days prior! We were all excited to hear the story of how L. proposed, see the ring, and find out more about their plans for a destination wedding. Such a fun surprise!
Once we settled down a bit, we talked about Dare Me and its dark, disturbing story of a high school cheerleading squad. As a writer, I found the author Megan Abbott's unique syntax, sharp dialogue, and fresh descriptions completely fascinating. At some point while reading it, I had to let go of the idea that it was a realistic story and envision it more as a fictional TV show or movie instead. The suspenseful plot and fabulous writing kept my attention (I read it in about three sittings!), but some of the events were over-the-top. And throughout the book, the cheerleaders and their coach's relationship seemed inappropriate, including drinking and sleeping over at the coach's house, getting involved in her family and her relationships, etc. Definitely a page-turner though -- mysterious and intriguing and shocking.
Our next selection is the classic book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I read it years ago as a young girl, so I'm excited to re-read it and discuss it at our next meeting.
Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely--to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. She is her father's child--romantic and hungry for beauty. But she is her mother's child, too--deeply practical and in constant need of truth. Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive. Betty Smith's poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life's squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book's humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics--and in the hearts of readers, young and old.