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Cheer!: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 11, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Torgovnick, who skipped all of her Durham, N.C., high school's mandatory pep rallies, decided at age 25 that cheerleaders are largely misunderstood and set about to illuminate the realities of the sport. Inspired by research she first did for a Jane article about the rise of cheerleading injuries, she set out to cover the 2006–2007 season, from the tryouts to the national championship, following three highly ranked teams: the Stephen F. Austin University Lumberjacks, in Nacogdoches, Tex.; the Southern University Jaguars, in Baton Rouge, La.; and the University of Memphis All-Girl Tigers. One commonality she finds among the majority of the young women is the myopic obsession with appearance and thinness, particularly for flyers, who are lifted and thrown. Cheerleaders, she writes, are not a carrot-stick kind of crowd although an entire chapter is devoted to one woman's story of how an addiction to cocaine to lose weight resulted in accolades from her coach and teammates. Torgovnick has clearly done her homework, though important characters and major narratives are lost within scores of inconsequential details. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Fans of Bring It On will find much to cheer about in Kate Torgovnick's meticulously reported account of the often-mocked but fascinating world of cheerleading." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Torgovnick has done an excellent job of reporting, bringing the reader into this world most of us would never see." -- USA Today

"A fist-pumping, Astroturf-banging tribute to the women and men who make up the in-world of competitive college cheerleading. It had me rooting from the edge of my seat for the final countdown of Nationals." -- NY Post

"An engaging, voyeuristic narrative that suggests college cheerleaders are as close to real-life superheroes as exist." -- Dallas Morning News

"One of the more successful pieces of narrative nonfiction this year, distinguished by Torgovnick's impeccable ear and canny, original choice of subject matter."-- Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"Kate Torgovnick's Cheer! is the Friday Night Lights of a new generation. Through her painstaking research, compassionate analysis, and uncanny eye for scenes, she offers us a window into the competitive subculture of college cheerleading the way Susan Orlean did for orchid hunters and Stefan Fatsis did for Scrabble players. Torgovnick is a journalist's journalist -- the kind of writer who gets the story and then has the good sense to get out of the way. We, the readers, can't help but revel in the world she's created, not only because it tells us something quintessential about America, but because it tells us something quintessential about ourselves."-- Courtney E. Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

"Because Kate Torgovnick has captured every voice in this fascinating world verbatim, crack open the book to read just one sentence and you too will be instantly immersed in these characters' riveting ups and downs (pun intended)."-- Jane Pratt, founder of Jane and Sassy magazines

"An exuberant and empathic journey deep into one of America's least-explored and most iconic team sports -- and if you've never thought of cheerleading as a sport, accompanying [Torgovnick] on this ride through the physical challenges of a competitions season will certainly change your mind. Whether you tried out for the Pom squad yourself, or blew off every high school pep rally like Torgovnick did, this suspenseful tale of cheerleading's glorious and addictive highs, and dangerous and pressure-cooked lows, will give you an insight into an ever-growing national phenomenon."-- Lauren Sandler, Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (March 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416535969
  • ASIN: B001IDZJEA
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 9.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,476,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
CHEER! jumps off the page like one of the gravity-defying stunts featured in the book. Kate Torgovnick brings us so close that we actually feel the adrenaline pulse through our own bodies, giving us a glimpse of what it's like to live on the edge, to care about something so much that we're willing to break our own neck. By the end of this emotionally raw, and often beautiful, physical and psychological exploration, we know why we want to "Save the Cheerleader."
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Format: Hardcover
I have been in the cheerleading world for 11+ years, competing at high school, collegic and All Star level. Reading this book was a great experience for me as I no longer get to cheer in the college environment, but do miss it. Reading this book was a walk down memory lane for me.

In some places throughout the book, I had trouble following the descriptions of the of the routines. I would have done better with the use of the technical terms of each move, rather than the verbose descriptions, as I didn't really have the patients to read the full descriptions. I'm not sure how they will translate to someone who is not familiar with the sport.

What is really exciting about this book is the accuracy. Many modern portrayals of cheerleading treat it as a joke. This book explains the sport, why it's difficult, how dangerous the sport really is and isn't. It is really refreshing in that aspect.

There is a word of caution: THIS BOOK COVERS MATURE CONTENT. There are references to the very ugly sides of college cheerleading like: drug use, and eating disorders. As a coach, I wish this book had taken a stronger stance against these practices. There are MANY college cheerleaders who do not take drugs, and who do not have eating restrictions. This is a very sensitive subject, and I would hate for young cheerleaders to aspire to this type of behavior because of heroes found in this book.

All in all, this was a good book, and I would recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book and could hardly put it down. The reason I gave it three stars was that I found the written descriptions of the stunts, etc. REALLY hard to picture in my mind's eye, and it was frustrating. Obviously, I am NOT an ex-cheerleader!

So that's what drags my score down. Now, that "faux movie trailer" here on Amazon REALLY helped me envision the moves. It was cool to see the three teams "come to life." It is AMAZING what these true athletes can do.
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Format: Hardcover
The author has a startling ability to immerse herself in another universe and emerge able to translate that world to the rest of us. I'd never really cared much about cheerleading one way or the other, but when I finished this book, I couldn't stop watching the videos of the teams' performances (available at cheerthebook.com) over and over again, amazed at not just how much more I knew about what they were doing but how much I had come to care about the individuals doing it.
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Format: Hardcover
Like the author, I've never been a cheerleader and didn't really know much about them in high school. My lack of experience with this topic probably made me love this book even more. I feel like I learned a lot about this amazingly popular subculture, and it's just a really great story of teamwork, dedication and major high stakes (the whole season comes down to a few minutes of make or break competition, which makes for a nail-biting read!). Cheerleading is a serious sport that usually gets frivolous coverage. Kate Torgovnick has a totally different take and gives the subject the respect it deserves. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes sports and enjoys a thrilling, action-packed narrative.
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Format: Hardcover
I went to a school with few sports teams and zero team spirit, so I never even considered that college cheerleading existed. After reading Torgovnick's book, I can't believe I was that ignorant about such a demanding and popular sport.

It's a testament to her journalism that I raced through these pages, newly fascinated by a world I hadn't even known existed. I was especially impressed by how clearly she paints each character in a sport with so many people on each team. Torgovnick is a wonderful tour guide through this new world.

I can't wait to see what Torgovnick writes about next -- I'll follow her writing wherever it goes!
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Format: Hardcover
Wow thanks Kate for doing such a great job of showing what cheering is all about! You tell the good and the bad even though most people want to dwell on the negatives. For Monica it's been positive all the way,not that there weren't bumps, breaks, and bruises along the way. From the time she made the middle school squad in 7th grade , in a small West Tennessee town, till she wound up on the Memphis All Girl Squad,and in your book,it's made her the confident, successful young woman she is today. Thanks for bringing Cheer to the rest of the world because this book is great!
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Format: Hardcover
Torgovnick reveals a vibrant and nuanced world that most of us have never seen. I've held stereotypes about cheerleaders for years. But this book has dismantled those judgments and shown how being a cheerleader doesn't necessarily mean being a tiny bouncing dumb blond. Torgovnick gives us a fly-on-the-wall view of the pains and triumphs of these three teams, and along the way, we meet characters who win our hearts. Smart, funny, and honest. Anyone who is interested in subcultures (and who isn't?) should read this book!
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