- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (BYR) (12 March 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374307504
- ISBN-13: 978-0374307509
- Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.8 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 331 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Squad Hardcover – 12 Mar 2019
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*A Washington Blade Springs Arts 2019 Book List Pick*
"Jenna may not get everything she wants by the end of the book, but what she does get, she works for, and that makes for a satisfying journey. 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." --NPR
"An openhearted debut that, like Jenna herself, has wonderfully surprising depth." --Booklist
"Plenty of books for young readers take on the subject of overt, aggressive bullying; this novel follows a less traveled and surprisingly substantive theme of a girl whose sense of self, forged in a pressure cooker of high expectations, is challenged in ways that cause her to misread situations and transform, momentarily, into a bully herself." --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"An authentic, relatable voice . . . debut novelist MacCarthy pulls off this concoction of topics with aplomb, matter-of-factly introducing Jenna's feelings for James and treating cheer and LARP with equal earnestness. The resolution is satisfyingly realistic . . . an affirming story." --Horn Book
"Upon finishing this book, I realized it was the first cheerleader narrative I have read that shows their lives beyond the glamour, as the featured cheerleaders create meaningful ties with Live Action Role Players (LARPers) and queer culture."--Lithium Magazine
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Full disclosure: I'm acknowledged in this book as one of the author's Patreon supporters, and I am not usually a YA reader, so I probably would not have sought this one out without the personal connection to Rae. It's hard for me to hold their work up to other examples of the genre, but it was an engaging read for me, and I'm excited to see more from them!
One of my absolute favorite things about this novel was how Jenna wasn’t always a good person, and it’s not because she’s inherently bad, but instead, because she’s a flawed human being that doesn’t react to situations in the best way every single time. It doesn’t matter how nice somebody is at the core, teenagers are angsty and those feelings are going to come out. Jenna doesn’t always treat her family well and she lets her emotions control how she responds to things instead of logic and reason. Each time something like this happens though Jenna learns from it and we’re really able to see her develop. Not only are relationships mended by her realizing the mistakes that were made, but she also discovers a lot of self-worth.
A big theme in Squad is friendship and not just the positive aspects, but what the fallout is like when something goes wrong. As much as we may want every friendship to last forever, the reality is that very few do, and sometimes when it ends it’s incredibly painful. Understanding what went wrong and learning that a lot of times it’s for the best are hard lessons to learn but so important, but learning how to give people second chances is equally important. The way this novel showed both aspects was so relatable and done perfectly.
It would honestly be a disservice to not talk about the representation that is shown in Squad. Jenna seems to be questioning her sexuality throughout the book and that was so refreshing to see. Most of the characters I read about seem to have it all figured out, but there are a lot of teens out there that just don’t know yet whom they are attracted to, and that’s okay! We also see queer rep in one of the supporting characters, James, who is a transgender boy. This was a new situation for Jenna, and she didn’t get everything right all the time, but the way she made conscious efforts to be respectful and accepting was wonderful. There is also so much consent, especially between Jenna and James, and I’ve never seen anything like it. We really need to start seeing more authors follow MacCarthy when it comes to this subject.
Squad is definitely one that I recommend picking up. It focuses on some important themes and contains lessons we could all use refreshers on. I really hope Mariah MacCarthy keeps writing because I’m wildly excited to see what they might have in store for us next.
When I first saw the cover of this book, I thought this was going to be a story about cheerleading, but it's really a tale of one girl's struggle, when she loses her "squad".
Jenna couldn't figure out when or why it all began, but her teammates were icing her out. Between the in-jokes, the backhanded compliments, and the unanswered text messages, Jenna knew she was now on the outside looking in. All of this was very painful for Jenna, but the worst part was how her long-time best friend, Raejean, abandoned her.
I won't lie, Jenna's reaction to all of these changes was FAR from positive. She made a bunch of really questionable decisions, but I was still able to empathize with her, because I had experienced this sort of thing first hand. It hurts, it starts to make you question yourself, and I thought MacCarthy did an excellent job capturing the fear, anxiety, desperation, and insecurities Jenna experienced.
I was a little worried about this story, because the first half of the book was kind of dark and bleak, but then Jenna sort of comes to terms with her situation. In an effort to atone for her bad behavior, she cuts herself off from the cheer squad, and that was when she really started to figure out who she was. She began to expand her circle of friends and renewed her relationships with her brother and mother. She made new friends and even picked up some new interests (LARPing!). It was great to see her grow, heal, acknowledge her mistakes, and make an effort to achieve some closure.
Overall: An interesting look at fading friendships, getting through tough times, and finding yourself.
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