Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

To Take a Dare is the disturbing yet inspiring story of a young girl who runs away from home at the age of thirteen. Chrysta is a bookish and an only child; her mother eats obsessively and will not leave the house, and her father refuses to address the situation, maintaining the family in an uneasy coexistence. Chrysta endures her strange home life until she suddenly undergoes a rapid physical development and appears to be much older and more sexually mature than her thirteen years. Unable to deal with Chrysta’s development, Mr. Perretti withdraws even further from the family. Alone and confused, Chrysta falls in with a crowd that experiments with drugs, alcohol, and sex. When her father finds out that Chrysta has contracted gonorrhea, his hatred and anger become so intolerable that Chrysta finally runs away.

After spending a few years on the road, Chrysta decides to settle down in a small Arkansas town and make a new start in life. Although she is still an underage runaway, she easily passes as a young woman in her twenties and gets a job as a cook at the General Palace’s Hotel in Excelsior Springs, Arkansas. At first, Chrysta simply works and keeps to herself, but as she gets to know the town’s kind inhabitants, Excelsior Springs begins to feel like home.

Many people come into Chrysta’s life, and all have a profound effect on her. She meets a twelve-year-old boy named Dare Wilkie whose father has essentially abandoned him,...

(The entire section is 509 words.)