Analyzing the cover: Hope and Tara laughing at Sean’s terrible singing. Except he does a gymnastics routine as his talent. So.
Everyone laughs at the idea of the Young Mr. Tarenton contest, basically a beauty pageant for boys. But when Sean hears that the prize is an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii for two, he decides to enter. Tara wants to be his guest on the trip, and knows Sean will have some competition in Bill Hadley, who is Diana Tucker’s latest
Sean and Tara go down to town hall so Sean can register for the contest, and they spot Hope and a miserable-looking Peter there. Hope has apparently badgered Peter to enter the contest so that if he wins, he can take her to Hawaii. She has a lot of nerve considering she was basically cheating on him with Pres’ cousin right in front of his face in the last book. Peter and Sean trade barbs how they’ll both perform gymnastic routines in the talent category and who will do it better. Sean’s bravado fades when he sees on the registration form that he’s supposed to list any community service work he’s done. He hasn’t actually done any. He decides to fix that before the finalists are chosen in 10 days. Meanwhile Peter wants to quit before he even starts this contest, but seeing Hope’s excitement about it keeps him from saying anything.
Sean signs up to volunteer at the sports center and gets a group of kids to teach gymnastics to. He meets Kate Harmon, a frizzy-haired, bespectacled girl who attends high school at St. Cloud, one of Tarenton’s rivals. She’s supervising some kids playing basketball and is not impressed by Sean whatsoever. Kate figures out that Sean is only doing the community service for the contest.
The preliminary competition begins with the guys parading around in their tuxes and answering questions from the emcee. Sean does well, fudging a little about his interest in community service. When Peter’s name is announced, he doesn’t come out, and then the emcee says Peter has dropped out of the contest.
Backstage Peter and Hope argue about why he didn’t say anything earlier regarding how uncomfortable he was and how much he didn’t want to do the contest. Sean goes onstage for the talent portion and does his gymnastics routine perfectly. He is announced as a finalist and has to write an essay for the finals in 2 weeks.
Peter asks Sean not to talk about the contest in front of Hope. “Just tell her you didn’t stand a chance against me anyway,” Sean advises. Peter is really mad at Hope for guilt-tripping him into entering the contest in the first place. “What did she think he was, just a ticket to Hawaii?”
Kate had been bugging Sean with her smart remarks and teasing over his true motivation to do community service, but when they see each other again after he is named a finalist, she is sort of nice. When he sees her trying to catch the bus in the rain, he offers her a ride home and they stop at Burger Benny’s for some food. They have a good conversation and Sean is amazed that a girl would actually not care about how she looks and not fall at his feet. Kate admits she watched him cheering at the last Tarenton/St. Cloud game, then bets him that St. Cloud’s victory wasn’t just a fluke. He is disappointed when she leaves to catch a bus outside the restaurant.
Still angling for the invite to Hawaii, Tara offers Sean help with his essay. He has been distracted thinking about Kate. “Every time he’d tried to write a sentence of that essay, he’d found himself writing her name, just like a kid in grade school.” He waits for her outside the sports clinic to offer her a ride, and they go to the lake. He talks to her about the essay and how he’s supposed to say why he should be chosen as Young Mr. Tarenton, but he doesn’t really know what to say. And the trip to Hawaii doesn’t seem as important to him anymore as it once did. He kisses her.
Hope and Peter’s anger at each other is once again causing problems during their routines. Hope accuses Peter of pushing her too hard in one move, which caused her to bump into Tara. Everyone tries to talk sense into them, but neither one will apologize.
Sean still can’t stop thinking about Kate when he tries to write his essay. He makes a list of people to invite to a party so they can meet her. “After all, he was in love, and he wanted everyone to meet the girl he was in love with.” He’s known her for like, a week. At the party, Tara is dismayed to see Sean with Kate and sees her Hawaii trip slipping away.
Still, after talking to Kate and seeing Kate’s disinterest in any Hawaii trip, Tara continues to be invested in the contest. She critiques Sean’s essay, which sucks. “I believe I should be elected Young Mr. Tarenton because I am young, I’m from Tarenton, and I’m a boy,” is how it begins. Sean doesn’t think it matters because he’ll be doing his super awesome gymnastics routine again. And also he no longer cares about anything except Kate.
Tara is upset about the whole Hawaii trip being up in the air, and she drops a pompon during their game. Diana slithers around to tell her that she better watch the squad because if they keep messing up, maybe Coach will start replacing members. This is the same threat this girl has every book, can’t she come up with something new? Tara calls an emergency meeting telling the squad they all need to get their heads right for the sake of the basketball team and to shut Diana up.
Sean tells Kate on the way to the finals that if he wins he’d give his tickets for Hawaii to his dad. He’d rather stay in Tarenton with Kate. He doesn’t win, but since he met Kate he doesn’t really care.
Hope and Peter make up even though they are a horrible couple and should probably have split up months ago. The group performs a hot new routine that knocks everyone’s socks off, and shuts Diana up, at least until next book.
Other notes and quotes
- Mary Ellen has already quit the daycare center and is going to college part-time while also working at Marnie’s.
- Patrick and Jessica are back together even though they were an absolute train wreck last book. Jessica just hopes he doesn’t try and propose any time soon.
Next time on Cheerleaders… What can possibly get the old squad and the new squad together again? Read Cheerleaders #32, TOGETHER AGAIN.