You Wouldn’t Dare Book Review

Samantha Markum’s You Wouldn’t Dare is the perfect summer read. It has it all: a cute beach town, a tight-knit community, the friend group you always wanted, a friends to lovers romance, witty banter, and a swoon-worthy setting.

Graham, Lucy, Milo, and Junie have a friendship for the ages. Sure, Lucy and Graham are super close. So are Milo and Junie. But why do people keep expecting Milo and Junie to hook up, when it was her and Graham’s secret summer romance last year that changed everything? But that’s fine. Junie just wants things to back to how they were. Her feelings for Graham will totally go back to normal, too…Right? Add in a summer theater performance, an upcoming visit from her Dad, and oh, yeah, her Mom hiring Tallulah, Junie’s sworn enemy and Mom’s boyfriend’s daughter, to work at their cafe. That’s all completely manageable.

Markum’s expert character development really shines in this novel. Junie’s first-person narration inherently sets the us up to view her as a not completely reliable narrator, as we’re seeing everything through her perspective. Junie’s friends and their established world and rules are efficiently established in the beginning, and the characters butt up against these roles and rules throughout the novel. These characters are all intricately developed and feel real, relatable, and really set the tone for the novel. They are flawed, but still lovable. Watching them grow throughout the course of the novel is like seeing your dearest friend come into their own, and it makes the novel as satisfying as it is fun.

The gorgeous fictional setting of White Coral Key makes me wish this place were real. It gives beachy Stars Hollow/Gilmore Girls vibes, supported by the strong mother-daughter relationship we see between Junie and her mom. But this novel is uniquely its own. The banter, hilarious hijinks, and sweet high school romances are solidly Samantha Markum’s.

What makes White Coral Key so lovable isn’t just the beauty; it’s the community. The community is woven throughout the novel, a large cast that reminds the reader of Junie’s long history with this place, and her changing role within it. Junie’s humorous narration captures the beauty and difficulty of living in such an active, vibrant community. The way Markum orchestrates the community’s role in the plot is flawless and is yet another reason I wish White Coral Key was a real place I could visit.

This novel really captures the joy of finding where you fit, the struggle with big changes, and the beauty of having a supportive community. This novel ultimately leaves the reader feeling satisfied, content, and daydreaming about visiting this gorgeous, if fictional, place.

You Wouldn’t Dare is totally binge-worthy, engrossing, and the perfect summer book.

Thank you to the author, Wednesday Books, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced digital copy such that I could share my honest opinion.

You can purchase You Wouldn’t Dare while supporting local book stores by ordering from here. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of I will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.


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