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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of You Wouldn't Dare by Samantha Markum

Samantha Markum's young adult novel is set in a small town in the Florida Keys, with plenty of teen angst, tests of friend loyalty, burst expectations, and realizations.

Sure, Juniper and Graham kissed. But they're still friends. Nothing could change that. Right?

Only, the lengths Junie went to to keep their summer fling a secret might turn out to be unforgivable. They might also have ruined Graham's life.

What with working at her family restaurant and managing the Graham situation, Junie already has enough to worry about. But then her mother's boyfriend and his teen daughter Tallulah move in, suddenly Junie's community theatre production is in danger of being canceled, and the frosty reception she's getting from Graham doesn't seem like it's ending anytime soon. Her father's upcoming visit is the only bright spot in the near future.

But things can always get worse.

I had a tough time pinning down the tone(s) of the book. Joking drifts into poignancy which morphs into moments of bristled, hurt feelings. Seemingly small issues dramatically affect relationships. On the page the many shifts felt jarring to me and I often found them difficult to follow.

Junie would likely be charming, and her joking dialogue and zingers might land more solidly, in person; on the page I found her sometimes grating with her incessant picking at others. I sympathized with Tallulah more than I think I was intended to.

I'm always up for some good teen angst, and Markum delivers that wonderfully. I loved the two boy-girl best-friend pairings and was intrigued by the complications of an infant sibling and newly mixed family (Graham's); a seemingly likely future stepsibling and stepparent (Junie); navigation of a new relationship (Milo); and unconditional support and rejection of others' expectations (Lucy).

I loved feeling confident that all would work out in some fashion, and ultimately the teen romance here was satisfying and so fun. The Florida Keys setting, the sense of place, and the rhythm of the small town were wonderful.

I received an electronic version of this young adult title courtesy of NetGalley and St. Martin's Press.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Samantha Markum is also the author of This May End Badly.

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