Video Book Review – The Turnout by Megan Abbott

Holy smokes, can this woman write about teen girl subculture!

Megan Abott gives a clear picture of what goes on behind the scenes, so we the readers feel we know the characters intimately. In The Turnout, the audience sees the beautiful ballerina, perfectly poised. But we the reader see and smell the sweat, vomit, and blood.

Abbott presents not just the presentation of the proverbial girl, but the self-conscious way she tucks her hair behind her ear, eats Cheetos with her head ducked, and slumps low in her desk at school.

Take one of her other books, Dare Me, for example, set in the high school cheerleading world.

“That’s what people never understand: They see us hard little pretty things, brightly lacquered and sequin-studded, and they laugh, they mock, they arouse themselves. They miss everything. You see, these glitters and sparkle dusts and magicks? It’s war paint, it’s feather and claws, it’s blood sacrifice.”

Megan Abbott, Dare Me

Filmmaker Sofia Coppola depicts teen girls exceptionally well, too. In The Virgin Suicides, based on the book by Jeffrey Eugenides, we see long sequences of the teen sisters listening to records, affixing colorful stickers, beautifying themselves.

Another Coppola short film, Lick the Star, shows the fickle nature of teen popularity and the isolation one can feel when the spotlight suddenly shifts.

High Pointes

This book has it all: ballet school drama, noir elements, and lots of juicy salacious details. It’ll have you clutching your pearls for sure.

And when I say the details are salacious, I mean SALACIOUS! I’m not a sensitive reader by any means. My main beef with the Twilight series, for example, was the glaring lack of sex and cussing. Well, that and the pedophilic undertones of a 400-year-old man wooing a 17-year-old.

But whoo, Abbot brings it in The Turnout! She unleashes lots of juicy tidbits. And she somehow does it in a way that’s more an organic part of the story rather than pure camp.

The Turnout seems the perfect marriage of new and noir Abbott. Think of if her books Die a Little and Dare Me got married and had a beautiful, drama-filled baby.


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