Pushing the Limits #2
Contemporary Young Adult
Available May 28th
Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley
THE STORY (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....
Dare You To is a stunning follow up to Pushing the Limits, Ms. McGarry's ability to pair life's darker moments with its achingly beautiful ones something that profoundly resonates, leaving us thoroughly exhausted after the emotional wringer she drags us through but pleased beyond measure by the time we emerge on the other side. One of the highlights of Ms. McGarry's storytelling is the visceral quality to the love between characters, the relationships neither a sudden magical cure-all for the problems in their lives nor a means by which they are able to eradicate all fears and doubts, ridding their worlds of darkness and pain. The love between these pages doesn't seek to smooth out all the sharp edges, but it does give them a soft place to land, preventing those fragile points from shattering on impact. There's nothing instant or simple about Ryan and Beth's relationship, it's hard work and it hurts at times, but we can't help but revel in the realism and the acknowledgement that love isn't always epic, sometimes it's gritty and scary and all the more affecting for it.
Beth is a young woman whom if we saw only from the outside without any access to her chaotic mind and turbulent emotions we might not like at all, her attitude and anger creating a wall of broken glass around her, cutting anyone who dares step too close. We do have access to her though, and as a result, we see the vulnerability behind the bluster, and though we know she would hate us for it, we can't help but want to wrap our arms around her and hold tight. Her life has taught her that she's worthless, that her value is only measured by her past, her family and her mistakes, and so her ability to trust is non-existent and makes her relationship with Ryan difficult at every turn. For Beth, Doubt is a many-tentacled monster; as soon as she escapes the grip of one arm and takes a few hesitant steps toward freedom, another arm swoops in and wraps her up tight, and though we want to rage against that monster for her, screaming at her to recognize her own worth, we know it's a battle she has to fight herself.
Ryan is at first glance the opposite to Beth in every possible way, but as we spend more time with him we come to see he has his own monster to fight. As Beth battles expectations of failure, Ryan battles expectations of success, something that sounds like it should be far easier but proves to be equally challenging and demoralizing. He stumbles and makes mistakes as Beth does, but through Beth he learns to fight back, to make his voice heard amidst the compliments and accolades that mask dictation on how to live his life, and in doing so he also teaches Beth that not every battle is one worth winning. Sometimes winning comes in the form of letting go; lessons both Ryan and Beth learn as they find a safe landing in one another.
Overall, Dare You To is everything we hope it will be when we break the spine, Ryan and Beth a painfully striking couple who embed themselves so deeply under our skin we're positive we'll find evidence of their presence when we next look in the mirror, their pain and their joy lingering with us long after their story comes to a close.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.