Author: Mariah MacCarthy
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date published: March 12, 2019
A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This darkly comic debut novel by an award-winning playwright is like Mean Girls meets Heathers with a splash of Bring it On.
Jenna Watson is a cheerleader. But it’s not some Hollywood crap. Cheerleaders are not every guy’s fantasy; they are not the “popular girls” or the “mean girls” of Marsen High School. They’re too busy for that. They’re literally just some human females trying to live their lives and do a perfect toe touch. But that all changed after Raejean stopped talking to Jenna and started hanging out with Meghan Finnegan. Jenna stopped getting invited out with the rest of the squad and she couldn’t tell if it was on purpose or if it was all in her head.
At times heartbreaking, at others hilarious, Squad follows Jenna through her attempts to get revenge on Raejean and invent a new post-cheer life for herself through LARPING (live action role-playing) and a relationship with a trans guy that feels like love—but isn’t. In the, end Jenna discovers that who she is is not defined by which squad she’s in.
I was really excited about Squad when I first heard about it because it was pitched as a mix of Mean Girls and Bring it On (which are both movies that I really enjoy)! When I picked the book up and started reading, however, I found that the tone of the main character, Jenna, and the atmosphere as a whole was considerably darker than in Bring it On and Mean Girls. The three stories definitely share the common themes of cheerleading and girls bullying each other, but that is where I found that the similarities of Squad to Mean Girls and Bring it On ended (at least for me personally). I was quite happy that LGBT elements were added to the story, and also that the main character got involved in LARPING (live-action role-playing) since we always need more of the former and I’ve never seen the latter used in any literature that I’ve read before.
I feel like those elements kind of carried the story for me, though, in that I was reading mainly for those elements, rather than the story as a whole. I think that there was definitely some potential when considering all of the pieces of Squad separately, but I personally find that they may just not have been fit together quite in the way that I may have preferred (when considering my personal tastes). I’m sure that there are many readers out there who have enjoyed, and will enjoy, this book though, so please don’t be discouraged from reading Squad simply due to my personal opinion.
Mariah MacCarthy is an award-winning playwright. She is also a producer, teacher, curator, storyteller, burlesque dabbler, rapper, birth mother, immersive-party-play-maker, YA novelist, and all-around creatrix. Her writing contains tenderness and brutality in unequal measure. Her stories tend to be sexy, femme-driven, queer, and funny. Her plays have been done everywhere from New York subway stations to the Paris stage. Her first novel, Squad, just came out with FSG! It’s now available for order from Amazon (budget option) or Indiebound (save-our-indies option). NPR says: “Squad is a short, highly concentrated blast of a book that revels in all the best and worst feelings of high school and offers the reader a charismatic and imperfect character to fall in love with. Jenna certainly won me over, and so did Squad.”
THANK YOU FOR READING MY REVIEW! HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT DID YOU THINK? AND IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, DO YOU WANT TO, OR NOT? HOW COME? LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS!