Scandal in Tarenton (#3 – Rumors)

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Analyzing the cover: Since the guy isn’t in a uniform, is this Mary Ellen and Troy? Mary Ellen and Patrick? I can’t keep up with ME’s revolving door of men.

Nancy and Olivia are gossiping during a basketball game about the fact that Mary Ellen was wearing a really expensive outfit earlier even though she is in fact dirt poor. She also has earrings on during the game that look way too pricey for a girl who can’t afford a soda from the vending machine.

ME continues to be gross and date Troy, who she considers “second best” to Pres in the “rich boyfriend” department. She is sad that Pres sort of ignores her ever since they permanently stopped seeing each other and is now dating that witch Vanessa. That’s because Pres is a douche. But Patrick is still the only boy she truly cares for, she’s just too much of a stuck-up gold digger to go for it with a garbage collector.

Apparently we’re supposed to feel sorry for Pres because his father would rather him work in the factory he’s going to one day own and run rather than be a cheerleader. Factory work is so beneath Pres, GOSH DAD. After the basketball game, Pres overhears some Garrison cheerleaders saying that Mary Ellen is a shoplifter, which gets him all riled up. But then he starts to wonder – Mary Ellen IS materialistic and obsessed with appearances – could she have? (I vote yes). Pres and Vanessa’s relationship seems to be one of the sadomasochistic nature. “Their relationship went on in its hostile, sex-laden way without any ending.” After fighting with Vanessa, Pres spots Angie’s little brother Andrew kissing his girlfriend Kerry in the hall. For some reason, Pres falls in “love” with Kerry like, immediately. What? She must have put a love spell on him Teen Witch style. Pres gets Kerry and Andrew to come to Nancy’s after-party, where Vanessa has also shown up even though Pres told her to go home.

Angie announces she made the honor roll, which shocks the rest of the squad because they thought she was like really stupid. Soon enough everyone is saying Angie cheated to get better grades. Word spreads so fast in the small town of Tarenton that Olivia’s mother has heard the rumors before the night is over and declares that she’s going to tell the coach and principal about Mary Ellen and Angie! And they didn’t even have Facebook or Twitter back then!

After 56 pages of suspense, we find out Mary Ellen has been doing laundry for her neighbors as some kind of side job. Phew! ME is not a thief. After buying a new necklace with her laundry money, she runs into Patrick who grabs her and kisses her without a word. She kisses him back and then shoves him. This is a weird romance. She’s still with Troy though, who doesn’t defend her against the shoplifting rumors (or even tell her the rumors are out there), but describes their kissing as “pure primitive passion.” Okay bud, if you say so.

Half this book seems to be each individual character hearing the rumor about Mary Ellen and responding in disbelief, then thinking, “Well, I could see her doing it.” It’s apparently very important we get each person’s thoughts on the Crime of the Century. Literally every single person to ever come in contact with another person in Tarenton has to bring up the rumor about ME. This book should have been called “Scandal.”

Consumed with the rumors, Nancy begins to obsess about the monsters on the cheerleading squad and seems to have a panic attack. You seriously would think Mary Ellen and Angie had murdered someone. Nancy can’t even stand to be around them anymore. The only one who believes in Mary Ellen is the one who shouldn’t – Patrick beats up a couple of losers gossiping about her at the basketball game. And somehow everyone and Olivia’s mom has heard this rumor while ME hasn’t heard a thing.

Meanwhile in our ridiculous B plot, Pres has managed to get Kerry to make out with him, but she’s still dating Andrew and feeling guilty. “Kerry would have to sit facing Pres, two feet away from the boy whose clothes she felt like ripping off, and pretend she was having a wonderful time with Andrew.” Actually, it’s really not that difficult. You can like, dump Andrew now. Mind you, she’s been in a meaningful relationship with Andrew for apparently some time, while it doesn’t seem Kerry and Pres know anything about each other at all.

Mary Ellen finally finds out about the rumors when the principal tells her coach. Soon after, she and Troy are dunzo. Angie finds out about the cheating rumors when her teacher announces they are taking measures to prevent cheating from now on, and she hears girls in the bathroom talking about her. As it so happens, evil Vanessa started both sets of rumors due to jealousy over Pres – first he dated Mary Ellen, and then she mistakenly thought he was interested in Angie. After Angie hears the rumors, Pres finds her crying in an empty classroom and comforts her, which apparently includes kissing her on the lips. Vanessa conveniently spots them and calls Angie’s serious boyfriend, Marc, to fill him in. Thankfully for Angie, Marc believes her when she says Pres was just comforting her (with his lips). Vanessa also plants a cheat book in Angie’s bag and a stolen ring in ME’s purse. This beyotch!

Perfect Patrick finds ME crying about the ring and devises a plan where he will bring it back to the store and say he found it by the trash he was picking up. They start making out and he tells her he loves her. SIGH. Mary Ellen doesn’t say it back. You fool!!

Our climax, I guess you could say, comes when Angie, ME, and Nancy go to the mall and shop at the store ME was suspected of stealing from. Vanessa slips in too, and Angie spots her sneak some earrings into ME’s purse. Then Nancy admits she had found the cheat book in Angie’s bag, which was why she was so convinced the rumors were true.

As the story ends,  Angie has a new desire to see Vanessa eat dirt, but we see that some of our characters will never change. ME still won’t give in to Patrick despite kissing him every other day. “She wanted to keep him close to her, but not let him think she was going to be his girl.” 

Though Pres has succeeded in getting Kerry to dump Andrew, he is already leaning toward doing what she feared he might – “[Pres] raised his eyebrows at [Kerry], but he remembered how Mary Ellen had felt when he had held her after the earrings bit… warm, compliant, and sexy. Maybe he was just a playboy, not meant for one woman.” This after spending a whole book obsessed with Kerry. Scum bag.

Other interesting notes and quotes:

  • Walt thinks he used to have a crush on Mary Ellen because she reminds him of his mother.
  • There are numerous jokes made about murdering Vanessa. She may need to watch her back.
  • Olivia has no real role in this book. She is still dating the track star named Michael. She likes to stand in front of the mirror with no clothes on.

Book Deets:
Author: Caroline B. Cooney
Year: 1985
Pages: 170

Grade: D

Next time on Cheerleaders… What happens when Nancy and Olivia fall for the same guy? Read Cheerleaders #4, FEUDING.

I thought they both had boyfriends.

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One thought on “Scandal in Tarenton (#3 – Rumors)

  1. Pingback: Vanessa’s Revenge (#2 – Getting Even) – We've Got Spirit

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