Analyzing the cover: The group has a flat tire in the book, which is the only thing right about this image! Only Sean was there, not Peter, and why are they wearing their #$%@ing uniforms when they had just gone ice skating???
There is trouble in paradise for Peter and Hope; Hope apparently told Peter she thought they should see other people, but he had talked her out of it. A new junior named Diana Tucker has transferred to Tarenton. When running into beautiful Diana in the hallway of the gym, Peter can’t help but check her out. Diana tells him she was supposed to be a cheerleader at her old school before she had to transfer to Tarenton.
Peter and Diana go into the gym where practice is about to start, and Diana leaves with Coach Engborg to go talk in her office. Sean starts going on about how hot Diana is, which annoys Hope: “Don’t you think we get tired of hearing these reports on the state of your hormones all the time?”
Diana tells Coach Engborg she wants to be a cheerleader, but Engborg tells her she’ll have to try out at the end of the year like everyone else for next year’s squad, because they don’t have any vacancies. Diana doesn’t like hearing the word no. “I’m more of a natural leader than Olivia What’s-her-name,” she says. Engborg defends Olivia and assigns Diana to intramural basketball. Diana starts scheming for a way to make a vacancy on the squad so she can have it. Looks like we have our new Vanessa Barlow.
Tara gets a new car for her birthday, and she and Olivia drive it to Dopey’s. There they see Pres in a booth with a blonde they think is Mary Ellen. When Olivia greets her, she realizes it’s not Mary Ellen at all. It’s Diana. Of course Pres would hang out with the new girl who is probably a complete psycho. Such a loser. Diana implies to Olivia that Coach Engborg said Olivia wasn’t a natural leader, makes a comment about Tara’s hips, then flounces out of the restaurant.
Patrick gets a letter from Mary Ellen saying she is planning to visit Tarenton in a month or so, and she basically wanted to let him know that she and Pres are getting seriously involved. “I hear you’re going out with Jessica Bennett now, so I hope this is all right with you,” the letter reads. This is one of those (many) times where the fact that this series has multiple authors sticks out, because Mary Ellen has done more than “hear” about Patrick and Jessica – she’s seen them together in at least two previous books. ANYWAY. Jessica finds Patrick sitting alone at the Pancake House as he’s reading the letter, and then they leave together. She tells him about the new girl, Diana Tucker. Patrick says Diana sounds a lot like Vanessa Barlow. Bingo. Patrick decides not to tell Jessica about the letter, because it makes it seem like Mary Ellen thinks he’s still hung up on her, which he is not.
Diana starts trying to use Holly Hudson, the head of the pompon squad, to cause trouble with the cheerleaders. First she manipulates Holly into having the pompon squad use their card stunts to make fun of the squad. Olivia yells at Holly about it. Then Diana lies and tells Holly that Coach Engborg isn’t happy with Olivia and is thinking about holding a midyear tryout to replace her, and says Olivia is probably just worried that Holly would take her spot.
Diana convinces Holly that she should design new jackets for the pompon squad. They approach the squad together to talk about their ideas, and the other members squabble about how much it would cost to buy them and how much trouble it would be. Apparently Diana’s plan is to cause Holly so much trouble that Holly will have to quit, so that when Diana gets Olivia kicked off the cheerleading squad, Holly won’t be competition to fill the spot. And if Diana doesn’t get on cheerleading for some reason, she could just take over Holly’s spot on the pompon squad. Diabolical Diana also decides she doesn’t like Hope for being too perfect, and so she steals her sheet music.
Peter stays at school after practice to help Diana with chemistry, since she claims to be having trouble. She insinuates that Hope wouldn’t approve of them being together and also comes up with a spur-of-the-moment lie that implies Hope kept Diana from joining the orchestra. This girl is a sociopath.
Patrick surprises Jessica by picking her up in Pres’ Porsche and taking her to a fancy dinner at Chez Marcel. He’s trying to give her a nice night out after she flirted with that rich guy Charles in New Orleans. But at the restaurant, Patrick just orders steak and fries like he would anywhere else. Jessica, who thinks she’s an expert after going to a French restaurant in New Orleans, orders frogs legs, which disgusts Patrick. Then they spot Peter at the same restaurant with Diana.
Diana had suggested she and Peter go somewhere quiet to talk, but he was not expecting it to be Chez Marcel and was too embarrassed to object when they got there. Peter asks Patrick not to say anything to Hope; he says he will tell her he was there with Diana, but he’s lying and doesn’t plan to bring it up.
While Patrick and Peter are talking, Jessica sees Mrs. Gunderson, the owner of Marnie’s, at the restaurant, who tells her that Mary Ellen might be moving back to Tarenton. When Jessica tells Patrick, he says he knows, and finally tells her about the letter he got from ME. Jessica wigs out and Patrick rightfully tells her he wasn’t the one down in New Orleans flirting with somebody else. “What am I supposed to do, put a lock on my mailbox?”
Angie Poletti’s brother Andrew, who is now apparently being referred to as Andy, asks Olivia if she’s heard about the pompon squads’ new jackets they’re trying to get. Why he would care about this subject, I do not know. Olivia is still mad at Holly and the pompon squad for their card stunts thing and doesn’t want to hear about it. Meanwhile, the pompon jacket thing has blown up because apparently students who aren’t regular members of the squad want jackets too? A bunch of people Holly has never seen at games show up to their meeting and all vote to buy jackets for everyone who’s there that day? I don’t understand this convoluted mess. Anyway, they need to buy jackets for a buttload of people and it’s a mess.
Diana sees Sean in the weight room and when he asks her out, she tells him she and Peter are going to “go steady.” Word has gotten around school about their date at Chez Marcel, most likely spread by Diana herself.
Sean goes to see if Hope is okay with this news (and to put the moves on her, since he is an idiot). Hope has been calling music stores trying to find sheet music to replace what she lost. I don’t understand why she can’t just tell her music director, he should probably have a lot of copies?? Anyway, Sean turns up and Hope didn’t even know anything about Peter and Diana. She calls Peter, who admits they “accidentally” went to Chez Marcel, but insists nothing else is going on. Hope doesn’t buy it and hangs up on him.
Olivia finds out about the mutiny in the pompon squad and that the group is on the verge of collapse because they can’t pay for all those jackets. Coach Engborg says Holly has to get herself out of this mess on her own. Meanwhile, the cheerleaders are a mess too because Hope does not want to be anywhere near Peter in their routines. Olivia tells her to suck it up and do her job.
Tara runs into some guy Kirby who tells her that Diana lied to him about being on the tennis team in California. They went to play tennis, and she was a disaster, but didn’t even seem embarrassed about it. “My guess is she tells so many lies that she half believes them herself.” Somehow this helps Tara figure everything out, and she goes to Diana’s house to confront her. “I know exactly what you’ve been doing to make trouble for the cheerleading squad and Holly, and I don’t like it.” She even knows that Diana stole Hope’s sheet music! These cheerleaders always magically turn into Nancy Drew/Sherlock Holmes when it’s convenient. Diana admits it and cries about how hard it is to move somewhere new. Tara says those are just excuses, but if she gives Hope the music back, Tara won’t turn her in for stealing, and she also wants Diana to talk to Peter and admit her scheme.
Tara tells Olivia and Holly she wants them to help her with a skit, which they perform at a pep rally. It’s all about how students should care more about school spirit than a jacket. It’s really stupid, but supposedly solves the Pompon Jacket Disaster.
Hope says her sheet music mysteriously turned up in the band room, and Tara assumes that Diana will also admit everything to Peter. In reality, Diana takes Peter to the parking lot and kisses him, which puts him in a confused and distressed state. When Tara invites Peter to come ice skating with the rest of the group, he says no, hinting he needs to stay out of Hope’s way.
The group goes ice skating, and when they’re getting ready to leave, they find that Tara has a flat tire and no jack. They panic because they have a game that night and need to get there early. Sean and Jessica hitch a ride with an old lady to the gas station, where they call Pres to come get them. Tara is sure it was Diana who somehow stole her jack and let the air out of her tire.
Peter arrives at school and is greeted with a kiss by a happy Diana. Coach Engborg tells him that no one else has shown up yet. Diana suggests to Peter that she fill in – as if she knows any routines or can fill the spot of 5 people?? Peter says it’s not a great idea, but Diana runs to the locker room to find Tara’s uniform. The rest of the squad finally gets there and gasps when they see Diana come out in a uniform. Tara accuses her of car sabotage. Diana denies it, saying, “I can’t help it if you had a flat tire and no jack to fix it with.” Of course, no one had ever said specifically what was wrong with her car, so Diana is busted.
During the game Peter apologizes to Hope and asks if they’re back together, but Hope says she doesn’t know.
After the game, Coach Engborg says that Diana admitted to stealing the jack and jamming her finger nail file into Tara’s tire. It got stuck and Diana thought she had failed at her sabotage, but the file must have worked its way out and developed a slow leak. Engborg says Diana has had a hard life because she has to change schools every year due to her father’s job, and if the squad makes an issue of it, she could be suspended. IF? Tara could have gotten in a wreck and died. Engborg says Diana knows she went too far and was shaken up. (Didn’t seem like it to me!) A counselor who has been working with Diana thinks she will never change if she keeps having to change schools, and wants to know if they will give her another chance.
FIRST OF ALL, Diana’s parents needed to look up home schooling about 10 years ago if they’re moving her every year. Second of all, it sounds like she would keep changing schools regardless of what the cheerleaders do, so why is it their responsibility to give her another chance? Third, her getting suspended doesn’t equal changing schools. She needs to be punished. How Engborg would even support this idea is beyond me. But they end up saying they’ll give her another chance. Unbelievable!
They all go out to Dopey’s, where Tara is hanging out with the previously mentioned Kirby, along with Jessica and Patrick, Olivia and David Douglas Duffy, and Hope and Peter. I’m guessing they will live to regret the Diana redemption plan.
Other notes and quotes
- Jessica starts getting jealous when Patrick says Vanessa almost got her “claws” in him a few times, then says she hates thinking about other girls in his past like Mary Ellen. “Mary Ellen’s ghost is always around, especially in this truck.” Patrick says if Mary Ellen had a ghost, it wouldn’t be caught dead in his truck.
- “My idea of an exotic meal is a Mexican-style TV dinner,” Patrick says. Not even just dinner at a Mexican restaurant? I don’t think Tarenton has one.
- Tara says Peter is a good enough ice skater to figure skate competitively. Uhhhh okay, doubtful.
- Peter asks how he could let a girl make such a big dummy out of him; Sean shrugs and says girls make a dummy out of him all the time.
- “Behind the Great Lover image, Sean is actually likable,” Jessica says.
Sign of the Times
- Tara dreams of being presented an Oscar for Best Actress by Robert Redford, beating out Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, and… Ally Sheedy!
- Diana says her old school’s cheerleading squad wore metallic gold spandex bodysuits as their uniforms. She also said they wore aviator jackets with padded shoulders.
- While looking to replace her missing violin sheet music at music stores, Hope is told by one employee that if Madonna doesn’t sing to it, they don’t carry it. That sounds like a very limited store.
Author: Lisa Norby
Next time on Cheerleaders… Tara has never been able to be serious about anyone – until she falls in love with the wrong guy. Read Cheerleaders #29, FALLING IN LOVE.