I remember when the thought first crossed my mind in the 7th grade that I was going to be a cheerleader. My best friend and I had gotten it in our heads that being a cheerleader would swiftly change our social status and force our peers to take us seriously.
So we went to the practice sessions, where we learned how to gracefully tumble, shout cheers in a cutesy way, and perform cartwheels for hours on end (I was convinced my years in gymnastics would give me a leg up). When we were sectioned off in groups to audition, I was a bundle of nerves. My best friend auditioned in the group right before me and when it was my turn, I plastered a smile on my face and walked into the lion’s den. It was awful… I was clumsy, and being naturally reserved, my cheers came out as a mere suggestion instead of a rousing call to charge up a crowd. My friend made the team, while I had to suffer through bus rides home alone while she was at practice and I wasn’t. I was not meant for cheerleader-dom, so instead, I joined the computer club.
Looking back, I say a silent prayer of thanks to the gods that I did not make the team. It’s one of those moments that you can definitively see your life heading in a very different direction had things worked out the way you had hoped. Middle school turned out to be very hard for me, but I know it would have been even more of a struggle had I made the team. I was glad to have missed out on that “opportunity;” the opportunity of having guys ogle you at games in a skirt that forced their gaze, the opportunity of maintaining a constantly perfect physical appearance at all times, and the legacy of catty fights and rivalries with your fellow teammates. I’m not disparaging anyone’s experiences as a cheerleader, or their desire to be one, but it would have been very bad for me, and I see that now. Which is why I’m particularly interested in reading Exit, Pursued by a Bear.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear is not only loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, but seems to be a gritty expose on the expectations of being a cheerleader. Hermione Winters is the star cheerleader at her high school, but she quickly looses control of her status quo when someone slips her something at a party; the results are devastating. This book contrasts the two ends of the social spectrum of high school society: the queen bee that everyone loves and wants to be, and the outcast. Usually, they’re different people, but sometimes, they’re not. Hermione suddenly finds herself straddling both worlds and struggling with the process of moving on.
Needless to say, I am waiting on this book with baited breath! What books are you waiting on this Wednesday?