The Cheerleaders – Published 2018
“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.” – Goodreads
WHAT I LIKED
A YA book + murder mystery + cheerleading? Count me in. As a teacher, book blogger and cheer coach, this was right up my alley. Plus, I love creepy/dark stories. This one didn’t disappoint.
Monica’s older sister took her life five years ago after all of her best friends tragically died. Monica and her family have been grieving in their own ways, but one day Monica really starts to question everything and unlocks clues that imply maybe there’s more to the story than she has been told. She takes on the role of detective and sets out to find out what really happened five years ago.
Monica is struggling big time, and rightfully so. Something particularly heavy happens to her while she is also dealing with her grief over the loss of her sister, a new family dynamic and living situation, friend drama, high school, a recent breakup, and more. The way in which she reacts and acts is completely justified. She snaps, she shuts down, she yells, she ignores, and it’s all just very authentic.
The unraveling of the mystery is really interesting and suspenseful. There were a few times when I was sure I had it figured out, but I was wrong. I hate a predictable story. Monica thinks of things I never would have thought of as she is playing detective.
The ending shocked me.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
It seems a little too unrealistic in terms of what Monica gets away with in her snooping, and even though it’s all explained, it’s frustrating that adults whose actual job is solving crime didn’t think to turn over every stone. This is only a small critique; the story is still really good, but there were just a few times when I thought, “There’s just no way she wouldn’t get caught in real life.” But maybe she wouldn’t. Maybe real life murders aren’t solved in the same way we see on TV.
Woven into the story are flashback chapters in Monica’s deceased sister’s perspective. Super interesting. However, they’re not told in the same POV as Monica’s chapters, and that really irks me. If Monica is talking about her sister and saying “Jennifer this” and “she that”, and then all of a sudden the next chapter says “Jennifer did this”, it took me a little bit to adjust. It’s silly, but POV is crucial, and I’m not a huge third person fan.