Analyzing the cover: Since, as my title indicates, everyone hates Olivia in this book, this must be Mary Ellen, Nancy, and Angie gossiping about how stupid everyone is, including themselves.
Mary Ellen is browsing at Marnie’s, a department store in the mall, when the owner Else Gunderson strikes up a conversation with her. Mary Ellen talks about her dreams of becoming a model in New York, and somehow in that one conversation Mrs. Gunderson decides it would be great if Mary Ellen could be a live model of Marnie’s clothes. She would basically sit on a platform in the display window wearing clothes. You know, like…a mannequin. Pretty sure they had those in the 80s. There was a movie starring the beautiful Andrew McCarthy. And you don’t have to pay mannequins. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a live model at a department store in my life. Of course, things can’t come this easily for ME. Mrs. Gunderson needs her to do it 3 times a week and on Saturdays, but cheerleading takes up too much time.
For all of her dreams of moving to NYC, Mary Ellen does very little to try and make that a reality. She could have been working throughout high school to save money for what will be a very expensive move (and maybe even help contribute to her household, which she always complains is so lacking). Being a cheerleader is not going to make her a fashion model. And for all the nose upturning she does at Patrick and his garbage collecting, at least he’s taking action with his ambitions. But I digress. Mary Ellen tells Mrs. Gunderson she has to think about it, and on her way out she spots the dreaded Vanessa Barlow coming into the store. She knows if she turns it down, somehow Vanessa will get it instead. She asks Coach Engborg if she can miss one practice a week, and is soundly told NO.
Angie’s brother Andrew is still down in the dumps over being dumped by his old girlfriend Kerry Elliot for Pres back in book #3. In another throwback nod to book #3, Mary Ellen tells Angie that they still need to get revenge on Vanessa for spreading false rumors about ME stealing from Marnie’s and Angie cheating in school. Both Nancy and Angie tell ME to get over it. ME has to turn the Marnie’s job down and is in a real pissy mood cheering at the next game, which throws everyone off. Of course at a party afterwards, Vanessa marches up and tells ME that SHE got the job at Marnie’s. Mary Ellen wants to strangle Vanessa “very, very slowly and very, very thoroughly.”
Elsewhere at the party, Olivia is feeling a little neglected because Walt is off entertaining people. It IS his party. She looks around. “Pres and Kerry were standing by the food, but they weren’t eating anything. They were just staring at each other.” Sounds normal. Mary Ellen is sitting on the couch alone, so Olivia goes and sits by her to complain about Walt. Mary Ellen gets up without a word and walks away. I don’t know why anyone is friends with the Ice Queen. An older guy takes ME’s place next to Olivia. His name is Boomer and he works on Walt’s parents’ TV show. He’s around 21 and very, very friendly. What is it with older guys messing with high school girls in this series? He starts flirting with her, gets her some alcoholic drinks, and soon enough Olivia is slurring her words and letting Boomer lead her off to a bedroom. As it always happens, Vanessa sees Olivia “necking like crazy” with Boomer and can’t wait to go tell Walt. Why is this girl still allowed at their parties again?
While Vanessa is off trying to ruin lives, Mary Ellen wants to enact her revenge by trying to convince Vanessa’s brain-dead date that Vanessa is actually mentally ill. She tells him that there were rumors that Vanessa threw food at people at a restaurant, threw a bunch of coats in a swimming pool at a party, and ran on court during a basketball game and pretended to be a cheerleader. All of that sounds like pranks a typical teenager would pull IMO. Mary Ellen doesn’t have a very good imagination. But Vanessa’s date splits, leaving ME feeling guilty yet satisfied.
While ME was getting lame revenge on Vanessa, Vanessa was actually being pretty terrible in leading Walt (and a bunch of other curious partygoers) to the room where drunk Olivia was still going at it with Boomer. Walt rightfully yells at Boomer for getting a high school girl drunk, then yanks Olivia out of there. As he drives her home he yells at her and calls her a tramp. She blames him for abandoning her. She says she’s sorry and expects him to say it too, but he just drops her off without another word. Olivia wishes she had never been born 😦
Back at the party Patrick shows up, and so does my interest in this story. Mary Ellen gets all the butterflies even though he’s a dirty trash collector. She lets him dance with her, all the while reminding herself that one day she wants to walk into Marnie’s with a wallet full of credit cards. I thought she wanted to be a rich fashion model and never see Tarenton again in her life. “Patrick couldn’t do that for her. But he could certainly do other things for her.” Bow chicka bow. She leaves with him and they make out until she reminds herself for the billionth time what he wants to do as a living for the rest of his life. She gets out the truck and goes inside her house.
Olivia gets grounded by her mom and chewed out by Coach Engborg for her drunkenness. I suppose she drank the alcohol knowingly, unlike Mary Ellen that time who was too dumb to detect vodka in fruit punch. Engborg just lets her off with a warning, to Olivia’s great relief. “Is Walt going to be as forgiving and keep me on as his girlfriend?” The answer to that so far is a big fat no. Walt ignores her during practice, and afterwards Pres tells him he’s being a jerk. “She wasn’t operating with all four cylinders.” Walt says she’s not a car. “Women, cars, what’s the difference?” Pres asks. So now we know Pres has sex with his Porsche.
Olivia tries to call Walt that night, and he tells her she’s wasting her time. So when Boomer calls and wants to see her, she says yes. This is going to go really well for her, I’m sure. After her parents go to sleep, she sneaks out and meets Boomer around the corner. He tells her they’re going to Lookout Point (in another book they call it Overlook Point) and when she says she’s hungry, he says, “No can do. The wallet is flat, know what I’m saying? Flat as a pancake. No bucks, no food, that’s the way the world works, honey.” Desperate to not go make out with this loser, Olivia offers to pay and suggests they get pizza since that will take the longest to make and eat. Then she can figure out a way “to escape from this octopus.”
They go to the pizza place, and just as Boomer leans over to kiss her in front of the whole restaurant, guess who walks in?!?! Why, it’s Walt and the rest of the cheerleading squad! Whoops. With the arrival of the gang, now Olivia wants to get out of there as fast as possible. Despite her protests of a headache and stomachache, Boomer ignores her and drives to Lookout Point. I would have claimed to have Ebola. At Lookout Point, Boomer is all over her despite her trying to push him off. What a nightmare. This is when you need to Mace a guy right in the face. Olivia remembers that she has a metal thermos in her shoulder bag, so she grabs it and hits Boomer upside the head. He releases her and she jumps out the car and runs into the woods. Just as Boomer’s car is coming around the bend, she spots Patrick Henley in his garbage truck, heading for the dump. She jumps in his truck, and Boomer speeds away. As Patrick brings Olivia home, she starts to think what a wonderful guy he is.
Mary Ellen and her sister Gemma are having a snowball fight in their yard when Vanessa drops by. She says she’s looking for Olivia because Olivia left her credit card at Marnie’s, where Vanessa now works. When she called Olivia’s house, her mom said she had a special cheerleading practice. This was apparently a lie, as Vanessa then saw Olivia walking arm-in-arm with Patrick around the lake. Of course, the second ME hears of Patrick spending a nanosecond with another girl, she has a conniption fit. She runs to her room and, for real, starts talking to her stuffed panda, Jujube. Vanessa must by lying, a deranged Mary Ellen says to Jujube. Alas, Vanessa is telling the truth, but Olivia and Patrick are just friends. Since everyone else is treating Olivia like she actually does have Ebola, and Patrick rescued her at a time of high stress, of course she would want to go hang out with him.
At the next practice, Mary Ellen immediately tries to pee all over her territory with Patrick and confronts Olivia, asking if what Vanessa said was a lie. Olivia confirms it was true, but doesn’t tell Mary Ellen that it was just platonic. “Maybe thinking she’d lost Patrick would make Mary Ellen see what she could have had all along,” Olivia thinks. With ME mad at Olivia, Olivia and Walt upset with each other, and Pres apparently in Blue Ball Hell thanks to Kerry, everyone is particularly bad at practice. Coach Engborg declares that they will have a 12-hour practice day to whip everyone into shape.
Pres and Kerry get into an argument because Pres said he doesn’t think what Olivia did at Walt’s party is that big of a deal. Kerry thinks she’ll never be able to trust him because she’s not as beautiful as Mary Ellen or Vanessa, and leaves his car without resolving their fight. So in order to prove his trustworthiness to Kerry, Pres promptly goes by the mall, sees Vanessa and offers her a ride home, then takes her to Lookout Point and makes out with her. That should do the trick.
Vanessa, as usual, wastes no time. She runs into Kerry and tells her she thinks she left her library card in Pres’ car. Kerry laughs, imagining Vanessa at the library, but then Vanessa says, “Or maybe it fell out at Lookout Point.” I kind of like Vanessa for her purpose in these books – rather than waiting multiple chapters for Walt to find out what Olivia did, or for Kerry to find out what Pres did, Vanessa makes sure everyone just finds out as soon as possible. The rest of the school hears what happened too, and Pres forces Kerry to talk to him at lunch. She says until he can be a person she can trust, they shouldn’t see each other anymore. “Kerry had always been so easy to get along with. He’d always been able to handle her. How could he have known she’d suddenly start giving orders and ultimatums? As if she owned him?” Oh my God SHUT UP PRES. This douchebag.
Walt calls Olivia and asks if they can meet, but she says no because she has other plans. He assumes she’s going out with Patrick and hangs up on her, then finds his parents’ liquor cabinet and gets rip-roaring drunk. They come home to him barefoot on the patio singing Tarenton’s fight song. The next day he doesn’t remember a thing, and then, lightbulb – this must be how Olivia felt after she made out with that loser Boomer, Walt realizes. Maybe the alcohol really was to blame. He can’t wait to sit next to Olivia on the bus for their away game in Garrison that night, but when he gets on the bus, dumb Pres has already taken his seat. Pres, you big idiot.
The next day they all meet at the lake house for their day of practice and bonding. They practice all morning and aren’t really getting any better. At lunch, Mary Ellen and Pres wander off into the woods and end up kissing. When they have go back to the cabin, Pres is annoyed that it didn’t seem to mean much to Mary Ellen, that she was probably thinking of Patrick the whole time. This dude is so weird. He just wanted a warm body himself.
Walt and Olivia also talk, and they end up admitting they miss each other and kiss. But then Walt has a visual of Olivia and Boomer, which makes him pull away. So things are still awkward between them. Great. Because everyone is still worthless and a blizzard is heading their way, the rest of the practice is cancelled. The coach leaves ahead of them, and the squad follows slowly behind in Walt’s Jeep, which then runs out of gas. With the snowstorm incoming and no cell phones in 1985, apparently their best option is to walk across the frozen lake back to the cabin. Meanwhile, Coach Engborg realizes they’re not behind her and turns around, finding the empty Jeep. Out on the ice, they all walk across with lanterns to light the way. Just as they think they’re home free, the ice cracks and Angie falls through. Angie, you klutz!
The squad works as a team to try and get Angie out. At first they can’t do it and Angie, already turning blue, isn’t even really trying to get herself out. But then they start chanting “Go Angie!” over and over and THAT’S what gives Angie the will to live. They successfully pull her out, and everyone has a mental breakdown. Walt and Olivia embrace, Pres realizes he wants Kerry again, Mary Ellen declares that the squad is back to being a team. Suddenly appearing over the hill is Patrick, who is just always in the right place at the right time. He carries Angie up to his truck to get her to some dry clothes at Mary Ellen’s house. Coach Engborg also shows up to bring everyone else home. Everyone declares that the near-death experience for Angie was worth it to get their cheerleading groove back. Okay then.
At Mary Ellen’s house, she tries to show her gratitude to Patrick while Angie takes a hot bath, but he pushes her away. “I want a lot more from you than gratitude. When you can handle that, if you ever can, give me a call.” If only Patrick ever actually meant it when he tells Mary Ellen he’s done with her games. ME also finds a note from her mom stating that Marnie’s fired Vanessa, and the owner wants to know if she can work 2 days a week. What a charmed life.
Other notes and quotes:
- At the end of the book they mention that Pres is over at Kerry’s house. Seriously, she took this loser back?
- Throughout the book Vanessa is shown as complaining about the job at Marnie’s or looking bored when the others see her modeling at the mall, so her firing isn’t all that unexpected.
Author: Diane Hoh
Next time on Cheerleaders… What is making Olivia feel so strange? Read Cheerleaders #8, FORGETTING.