Study Guide

To Take a Dare

by Paul Zindel, Crescent Dragonwagon

To Take a Dare Summary

Overview

The development of Chrissie Perretti is well worth following. She transforms from sweet innocent Chrissie, to Chrissie the Punk Queen, to Chrysta the runaway. Her problems with bizarre parents, adventures on the road, and final relationships in Excelsior Springs, Arkansas, are described with detail and vigor. It is not all fun and adventure as Chrysta faces separation from her one true friend, copes with being in love, deals with the separation from her parents, and learns that she can never have children due to an early case of gonorrhea. In keeping with the troublesome themes of the book, its ending is not that of a fairy tale, but nonetheless is worth the long trip from Benton, Illinois, to Excelsior Springs where Chrysta finally finds her home.

The best way to establish the tone and attitude of this book is to supply a quick summary of the first few chapters: At twelve and one half years, Christine Perretti lives a miserable life with her hugely overweight mother and obsessively religious father in Benton, Illinois. She is the only girl with a 36 C bra in middle school, and her maturity is a fact her parents tend to ignore; her mother makes a rather bewildered attempt to explain the facts of life to Chrissie, her "little girl." Chrissie describes the day she became a teenager: "On my thirteenth birthday my father called me a slut once too often, my dog was hit by a car, and I lost my virginity—what was left of it." Most communication with her...

(The entire section is 589 words.)