Analyzing the cover: Sean being stupid and stubborn refusing to believe the worst about his beloved, traitorous girlfriend, while Tara and Hope look at him with hatred. And maybe a little lust on Tara’s part.
Sean tries to recruit other squad members to go out with him after practice, but they all have other plans. Tired of the same old scene, he decides to drive to Garrison and find a place to party there. He shows up to a place called The Cave, just wanting to dance his heart out. “When he got out onto the floor, he was a performer.” Okay there, John Travolta. When a mystery girl pulls him out onto the dance floor, Sean is intrigued. They dance and when he asks her name, she deflects the question. He gets it out of her that she goes to Garrison, and he brags about being a Tarenton cheerleader and tells her about some of their routines. Before they say goodnight, she calls him Sean, and on the way home, he realizes that he had never actually told her his name.
At the next basketball game, Sean thinks he see his mystery Garrison girl in the stands wearing a green coat, even though they’re playing a different school named Wickfield. But since he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about her, he assumes it’s just his imagination. He heads to The Cave as soon as the game is over, and looks around until he sees the mystery girl enter. He makes a beeline for her and asks her to dance; she is a little hesitant at first, but agrees. And she’s wearing a green coat. Hmmm. He finds out her name is Monica by eavesdropping on her and her friend. He looks her up in the phone book and they make a date to go out again, somewhere different than The Cave. Monica thinks to herself that it’s better they go somewhere where less Garrison people will be, so no one will let it slip “who she is and what she does” in front of Sean.
Sean is meeting Monica at The Cave again when some Garrison guys comes up and asks how he managed to attract Garrison’s newest cheerleader. “That last word put Sean in rigor mortis.” Tara walks into The Cave with a date and sees Sean dancing with a girl, looking angry. Monica is saying she only became a cheerleader a month before when one of the regular members broke her leg, and Monica was chosen as a replacement. She didn’t tell Sean because she thought he would drop her “like a hot potato.” She asks if he thought she was trying to get insider information or steal cheers, and he gives her a look. She acts all offended as if that would never happen, then points out that since Garrison has 12 girls and Tarenton has 4 girls and 2 guys, they wouldn’t really be able to copy their routines. Sean softens and agrees to start fresh with Monica. Tara deliberately runs into them and eyes Monica suspiciously, not liking something about her.
Tara throws a party, and when Sean doesn’t show up, she tells the squad about him dating a Garrison cheerleader. Tara and Peter consider it treason. Olivia remembers last year when Nancy fell for Garrison’s star basketball player Ben Adamson, and it tore the squad apart. “As captain, Mary Ellen put a stop to it by being the first one to forgive Nancy.” Mary Ellen also treated Nancy the worst and is terrible, let us not forget. Olivia says maybe Monica will be really nice; Ben turned out to be a good guy.
Olivia asks Sean about Monica at school the following Monday. “What’s with the gestapo treatment?” idiotic Sean asks. Olivia just warns him to be careful. At practice Sean gets tired of Tara’s dirty looks and accuses her of being jealous. “She gasped. ‘You inflated creep!'” Then she kicks him. LOL. When he goes out to the hall to get water, he sees two girls fleeing – one of them resembles Monica from behind and is wearing a green coat like hers. He again thinks he’s just too obsessed with her and is seeing her everywhere.
At the Tarenton vs. Garrison game, Sean tries to catch Monica’s eye before the start, but she won’t look at him. The Tarenton squad is about to launch into their “Spell It Out” cheer – “Give me a T!” etc., when Garrison goes into the same cheer. I don’t think that idea itself is unique or original, but Garrison was doing the same moves that Tarenton planned out, only modified to fit 12 girls. Then when Olivia signals to go into their “Beat It” cheer, based on the Michael Jackson song, Garrison moves into the exact same formation. When halftime starts, the Garrison squad claims the floor first and does Tarenton’s planned halftime cheer. Tarenton fans who’d seen their own squad do that cheer before start calling out asking why Tarenton isn’t original, and some even clap for Garrison. These are the worst fans ever. “Peter wanted to go up into the stands and personally pummel every rotten, stinking creep who’d applauded those lowlife girls.”
Apparently the cheerleaders’ disarray directly affected the team, who lost their worst game in the history of Tarenton. The squad goes to a hamburger place after the game to talk about what happened, and Sean gets all pissy when everyone questions him about whether or not his girlfriend stole their cheers. He gives a speech about how they’re supposed to be the “Musketeers” and storms out. Cry more, dude. But as he drives, he remembers all the questions Monica had asked about cheerleading, before he knew who she was. Then he remembers all the times he thought he saw her in a green coat, at the game and in the hallway during their practice. He finally puts 2 and 2 together (he’s a little slower than the rest) and realizes she really was spying on them. He goes back to the hamburger place and apologizes to the squad. They all forgive him, and talk about what to do next. “‘How about we rearrange her body parts?'” Tara suggests. Patrick thinks that’s illegal. Tara does not care.
The squad decides to roll up to The Cave and confront the Garrison squad, who are assuredly celebrating their win. When they get there, Sean walks right up to Monica and asks her and the other cheerleaders how it feels to have stolen their cheers. The other members look confused though, and say they don’t know what he’s talking about. Monica starts crying and says she’s the one who did it, because she wanted to prove herself to the squad. “Pandemonium” breaks out, as apparently the Garrison squad isn’t all that fond of stealing (except their captain Betty did it last year, buying info from Vanessa. God I miss Vanessa). Monica tells Sean she really did start to like him and asks if he could forgive and forget. Sean says hell naw. Monica is sad and her fellow cheerleaders are disgusted with her.
The Tarenton squad pats themselves on the back for getting revenge without resorting to staging an “accident,” which they had joked about earlier. Sean is hurting and decides he will go back to being a less careless Romeo in the future.
The other minor, weak storylines in this book are:
>> Jessica pesters Patrick about not taking care of his health, as he has been fighting a terrible cold for over a week but hasn’t stopped working constantly. He continually puts off going to a doctor or taking a sick day from work, despite her nagging. Sounds like me and my husband. Patrick sleeps through one of the basketball games and Jessica has to get another ride home, then he collapses during a moving job and has to be taken to the hospital. Jessica can’t find the courage to go see him at first because it reminds her too much of when her father died. Patrick’s in the hospital for at least a couple of days, and it takes Jessica a bit before she finally visits him. She scolds him for not seeking help earlier and tells him how her father ignored the signs before he had a heart attack, and Patrick really scared her. He promises never to do it again.
>> Hope is torn between cheerleading and the violin, as she has a solo at her upcoming orchestra concert. She has had to put in extra time practicing violin and has shown up to cheerleading practices exhausted. She’s thinking about giving up cheerleading, as her director Mr. Martin has been putting it in her head that music is the most important thing and she needs to quit anything that’s taking time away from the violin. Hope isn’t sure how to talk to Peter about this, because she doesn’t think he’ll understand. Hope asks her mom why Mr. Martin hates her. He’s always yelling at her. Her mom tells her some long drawn-out story whose moral is basically that the teacher yells at her because he thinks she’s the best and wants her to live up to her potential. Hope thinks it has more to do with his antagonistic attitude about cheerleading. Hope finally confides in Peter, who tells Olivia that’s why Hope has been so distracted at practice. Olivia decides the whole squad will go to the concert, sit in the front row, and show their support for Hope during her solos. After she performs, she gets a standing ovation.
Other notes and quotes
- Lame joke alert: “It’ll give everyone time to cool off, I hope,” Jessica said. “No – you Jessica, I Hope,” Hope replied.
- Typo found on pg. 52 – “Can you kuys give me a ride?” Jessica asked Tara. Unless kuys is some 80s slang I’m unaware of.
- Sean says he invented a new jump while dodging snowballs from Monica – Peter watches him do it and says, “Hey, not too sleazy.”
Sign of the Times
- Coach Engborg compares Olivia to Mary Lou Retton
- Sean’s new lady friend “has lips like Molly Ringwald’s”
- Jessica uses a pay phone to call Patrick
- Sean thinks the song “She’s Got a Way About Her” by Billy Joel describes Monica
- Peter says Sean can romance whoever he wants, even “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.” I had to look this one up. It was a movie that came out in 1984.
- At Hope’s concert, Sean jokes about sneaking in his Sony Walkman to listen to.
Author: Ann E. Steinke
Next time on Cheerleaders… A substitute coach seems bent on destroying the squad – and Mary Ellen’s surprise visit to Tarenton may have the same effect on Patrick and Jessica. Read Cheerleaders #26, TAKING OVER.