by Kara Thomas
My rating: 4 stars
Publisher: Delacorte Press (July 31, 2018)
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Genre: YA Thriller
Print Length: 384 pages
There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.
First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.
That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.
There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Five years after several incidents rocked a community, a school and five families to their core, the town of Sunnydale still isn’t safe and still hasn’t healed properly. Five cheerleaders died that year, two in an accident, two were murdered and the last one standing committed suicide and the school’s knee-jerk reaction was to disband the cheer squad. Now the faculty and students want to do something in remembrance of the girls who died, but will it bring closure or just more drama?
Sixteen-year-old Monica, sister to Jen, the suicide victim has her own problems now and a boatload of unanswered questions as she uncovers some secrets that others have been keeping. Secrets kept are secrets that fester, truths ignored are dangerous and Monica needs the truth. Will the truth set her mind free or will it get her killed, too?
THE CHEERLEADERS by Kara Thomas is first and foremost a well-written young adult suspense with a main heroine who has a great head on her shoulders, “most” of the time. As an intriguing and twisted read, Ms. Thomas is spot on in her writing from start to finish as she nails family dynamics and teen relationships and trust in others.
Brilliant world building, fabulous characters that come alive and relationships that are supportive deserve at least five stars! The mystery/thriller aspect is tremendous as we see this tale unfold through Monica’s eyes and discoveries while getting a peek at her sister’s mental status five years before when she committed suicide. So many twisted lies and cover-ups, so much guilt, was a murderer brought to justice with a bullet or was there yet one more victim created at the hands of the law? Was there a rush to justice?
Monica knows something isn’t right, and she is determined to dig up the truth, against all odds, not by sheer luck, but determination and grit. This is one thriller that rides the edge of that razor until the end.
So, why not five stars?
People make mistakes, particularly when it involves teen emotions and hormones, and some mistakes were made, BUT, I was troubled by the handling of the teen reactions. They smacked of a time that seems like the Dark Ages. Can someone please tell me when it is okay to allow a minor to take the “blame” for sex and its consequences with an adult? Sure, this wasn’t the crux of the story, but it was part of the catalyst and to be honest, it could have used its own book.
Lots of victims in this one, certainly a monster or two and definitely a town left to wallow for five years, unknowing. That said, even the school board, faculty, whomever, fell down on its reaction to the nightmares and losses endured. Reminded me of not allowing dancing because one time something bad happened.
Still, I did appreciate the brilliance of the main character, a person far beyond her years in maturity in many ways. I just wish she could have been more of a role model for teens who make sexual mistakes with adults, she was a victim of a predator and her hormones. Hello, stranger danger?
I received a complimentary ARC edition from Random House Children's /Delacourt Press!