White Lies, Black Dare

Like many young protagonists, Asha Wright has a book that is very special to her. In Asha’s case, it is S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, a gift from her creative-writing teacher. Unfortunately, she can’t decide whether she wants to follow her ambitions and emulate the 17-year-old author Hinton, or succumb to peer pressure and abide by gang rules like the characters in Hinton’s novel. White Lies, Black Dare is all about peer pressure, and how attractive belonging to a gang can appear when everything else in your life seems to be falling asunder.

Asha and her mother have been forced to leave their nice home and her private school and move back into a flat with Asha’s mother’s stepfather because her mother, a self-employed barrister, is being treated for cancer and they have no insurance or savings to fall back on. In fact Asha has a lot of things going for her: a loving step-grandfather, a concerned mother, brains, ambition, friends with good values, and a supportive and inspirational teacher looking out for her. Nevertheless, the person she most wants to impress is the reprehensible Angel Jones. Because it is clear from the title, cover blurb, and everything in the text that she is going to get involved in a dangerous game of dares, the narrative lacks an element of suspense from which it would have benefited. Nevertheless Nadin brings her characters to life vividly, and the denouement is genuinely moving.