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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 is the first book by Kara Thomas that I’ve read, and after enjoying this one so much I will definitely be reading more from her in the future. Thomas managed to mix emotion with mystery very well in this book, and I was kept wondering right up until the end.
I think the main standout of The Cheerleaders was the characterization of, well, the characters. The main character, Monica, is going through A LOT. At the start of the book, she has an abortion, and in addition to that she has also lost her sister and her sister’s best friends from the cheerleading squad. Oh, and she was in a student/teacher relationship with her teacher. I know, it’s a lot to unpack.
In my opinion, Kara Thomas did a great job of handling all of those things. While I do think the abortion was left forgotten, Monica had so many other things going on that it was almost understandable that she was distracted from it.
I have seen some reviews say that the student/teacher relationship was handled poorly, but in my opinion it seemed quite realistic? So we have a grieving teenage girl who blames herself for what is happening to and around her, and she really struggles to accept the idea that she’s the victim. But, she IS the victim, and the text clearly implies this.
Anyway, as for the actual mystery of what happened to the cheerleaders, I thought it was very interesting. Sure, you have the slightly unrealistic part where a teenager solves a crime, but isn’t that the case with all YA thrillers? I don’t think it would be that interesting if the teenagers deferred to the adults all the time, and the target audience probably love imagining solving these cases.
Like I said, I was kept hooked the whole time and because Thomas did such a great job with the main character, The Cheerleaders packed in a lot of emotion that is normally lacking in thrillers, particularly YA ones. I’m definitely going to be reading the author’s backlist and reading whatever they come out with next.