Tuesday, January 5, 2010

To Take a Dare

My second book for the Shelf Discovery Challenge features a life as exotic to me now as it would have been back then. To Take a Dare, my selection from the second chapter, "She's At That Age: Girls on the Verge," is by Paul Zindel, an author I knew and read in junior high, and Crescent Dragonwagon, whom I am sure I have never heard of before. The protagonist has a lousy family (this seems familiar to Zindel readers) and her early-developing and large breasts change the way everyone treats her, until she runs away from home and carves out her own life. I have to say, this book doesn't really seem to fit in with the others in that chapter; the protagonist, Chrysta, isn't so much dealing with puberty (although that hits her hard and knocks her down in the beginning chapters) but with premature adulthood. Her problems don't really belong in the same focus group as a Judy Blume character, or even a L'Engle.

It's narrated in first person, so you see Chrysta's tough persona and hear the basic goodness inside. She even mentions that she lives a charmed life -- no drugs, not much violence, and she's good at finding jobs and getting along. Honestly, that's the part that amazes me the most -- I still find the prospect of moving to a new town and finding a job and an apartment rather daunting, but she handled it dozens of times before she turned fifteen. The title explicitly refers to Dare, the young boy she tries to mentor (almost adopt). She finds a job, finds love, even finds a career, and also finds that some mistakes can't be fixed, some choices have irrevocable consequences. But I'm still stuck on that find-an-apartment thing...

It's different from most books nowadays; it preaches different messages, and leaves out a lot of common currency nowadays (no AIDS, no crippling trauma from sexual abuse). It doesn't make me want to drive my children from my home at age thirteen, but it does make me interested in knowing real people who followed their own paths so young. B


Julie P. said...

What a great review! I wasn't familiar with this book and it wasn't even really on my radar for this challenge! I think I'm going to check it out now.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to look this one up. It's not one I remember from when I was a kid. I've got Shelf Discovery on my TBR list.