Ahk, I hated Cheerleaders when I was in high school. This was partially because my best friend turned into an ex-best friend and she was a cheerleader, partially because my sister was one, and partially because they were all such backstabbingly snotty people. Granted, I recognize that not all cheerleaders are like that, but I’ve always felt such ugh about the sport. I think the fact that it has also been used as a way for women to be degraded into only being useful to cheer for an American male sport that is seeped in sexism, racism, consumerism, and fan ownership just adds to my distaste. But, when it’s focused solely on cheer competitions rather than cheering for the disgustingness that is American Football, it’s not so bad. Squad by Mariah MacCarthy is a book that I imagine is going to dismantle some of the unfortunate stereotypes that cheerleading has gotten over the years, some of which you can clearly see I’ve fallen prey to…while simultaneously proving them? Believe me, I’m not sure how this works, either.
The plot of this book seems to have a lot to do with the dynamics of mean girl cheerleaders who, initially weren’t. So, basically, it’s about a fight between girls. Honestly, I’m not deeply interested in this book as a result of that. It’s not my scene, it’s a contemporary which is also not my scene, and I just don’t care to read a book about friends fighting for what appears to be no reason. It brings back some unfortunate memories, actually. However, when you get to the end of the synopsis, suddenly you’re hit with the main character, Jenna, turning to larping (live action role playing) and getting into a relationship with a transgender guy. And suddenly I’m vaguely interested again. I think, if this book had a higher rating, I’d probably read it. As it stands, though, the cheerleading fights really do turn me off wanting to read a book.
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.
How do you feel about this book? Is it one that you’d be excited to read? Is it a book you’d rather avoid? What do you think about the mix of cheerleading and larping? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!