In recent years there have been a litany of articles, books and TV shows that all celebrate female friendships. This is incredibly important as I am a firm believer in women supporting women. For many years a popular trope in entertainment was to pit women against each other (mainly when it came to competing for men). While this narrative is still around– most recently evident when comparing Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle–audiences in general prefer seeing a more supportive storyline. Pretty Little Liars, Big Little Lies and GLOW have all recently showed how powerful female friendships can be.

Dare Me is completely different as it looks at what happens when female friendships become toxic. The friendship at the center of the book is between Beth and Addy. Beth is captain of the cheerleading squad and Addy has always been her loyal lieutenant. This all changes when they get a new cheerleading coach who makes the team work like they never have before. Soon the entire team fall under the spell of their young, beautiful coach. The only person who doesn’t go to the after game parties at the coach’s house is Beth. She feels Addy slipping from her grip and the fallout has tragic consequences.

It’s difficult to go into two much detail on the plot without spoiling the twists and turns that the book takes. I found it interesting to read a book where none of the characters are terribly likeable yet I still felt sorry for all of them. Parts of the book were uncomfortable to read, especially when Beth was being particularly cruel to her best friend. The themes of power and control in friendship is a fascinating topic and one that doesn’t seem to be discussed as much in popular culture. If someone is in a toxic relationship the advice is always to leave them and move on; when it comes to friendship it seems that people have a harder time letting go of that person.

If you’ve read the book or it sounds intriguing to you, the TV adaptation is currently airing on the USA network in America with an international release on Netflix expected later this year.

Michelle O’Brien
Contributing Writer
Girl Museum Inc.

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