Analyzing the cover: Hope, Jessica, Olivia, and probably Sean, who gossips like an old lady.
Tara and Diana are both taking a review seminar with Nick Stewart, Tara’s old love interest and their math teacher. Tara gets the highest grade on a test while Diana does poorly, and Tara is dumb enough to taunt her about it. Diana accuses Tara of making goo-goo eyes at Nick the whole class. Come on Tara, you should have known she would go there.
Diana’s father tells her he’s going to be running for school board next month, and he doesn’t want her to do anything to embarrass him in the meantime. “You’re already on academic probation and social probation. And if they had any other kinds of probation, I’m sure you’d be on them too.” Then he threatens her if she fails any of her courses, there’s a Vermont school for troubled girls he might consider sending her to. Diana goes to Nick and tells him all he has to do is give her an A, and she won’t tell the principal about his relationship with Tara. Nick says there’s nothing going on between him and Tara. “You know how easily rumors get started,” Diana threatens. Nick says he’s not giving in to extortion, and she needs to earn her grades.
Nick is still dating Nancy, the former cheerleader who attends Brown. Nancy has apparently been visiting a lot because her dad is sick. Nancy and Nick go to the Pizza Palace together, where they sit with Sean and Peter. Tara comes in and sits with them, and Diana, sitting across the restaurant, yells something about a teacher’s pet. When Nick tells Nancy that Diana threatened to spread rumors about he and Tara, Nancy grows uncomfortable and asks to be taken home.
The cheerleaders are baking items for a bake sale-auction, which will help fund the Pompon Squad’s new uniforms. Tara visits a caterer in Tarenton Towers, an apartment complex, to order a fancy cake. Patrick had teased her about her baking skills, so she wants to surprise him by auctioning off an amazing cake and play a prank on him, making him think she made it.
Nick happens to live in the same building, and they run into each other on their way out the doors. Patrick just so happens to be driving by and sees them leave together. He tries desperately to come up with an innocent explanation for what he saw. Patrick stops at the Pancake House for coffee, and Diana’s boyfriend Mark, who’s apparently in on her plan, tries to tell Patrick about Nick and Tara. Patrick calls Tara to ask her what she’s been up to all day, and because the cake thing is a surprise, she lies and says she was home all day.
Jessica and Olivia volunteer to do community service with the Tarenton Environmental League. Sean and Tony (Hope’s boyfriend) see them getting into a black van during their service time, and both guys wonder desperately who the van belongs to. OMG who cares?!?? A 12-year-old at the community service project flirts with Jessica and Olivia, so they joke with Tony that they have a mystery man they’re both dating. Tony buys it, as does Sean, who demands more information about their new boyfriend. They refuse to tell anyone the truth. Is this seriously a storyline? It is eventually resolved when Jessica tricks Sean into thinking she and Olivia are going on dates at the movie theater. Sean and Peter follow them there and then they are surprised when the 12-year-old kid shows up. It’s really stupid.
A rumor starts going around that Tara and Nancy got in a fight over Nick. Tara gets a note from Nick that says he needs to meet her at a Greek diner outside of town and that it’s an emergency. When she gets there, she asks Nick what he wants, and he says he’s only there because he got a note from her saying she needed to talk to him there… it was an emergency. Then they look over and see Superintendent Barlow, our old villain Vanessa’s father, eating at a table nearby with Diana’s dad.
Barlow spots them and goes over to talk. Tara introduces herself with a fake name, but Barlow knows who she is. After he leaves, Tara says they were set up by Diana, and Nick for some reason says they can’t jump to conclusions. No, I’m pretty sure you SHOULD jump to conclusions in this case. Nick comes up with a really stupid theory and asks if Tara might have set this up to make Patrick jealous. Are you concussed, Nick?
Hope’s mom says she ran into Diana’s mother at the grocery store and was asked if Hope would help Diana with math. Hope feels guilted into offering her help, but Diana really just wants Hope to do her homework for her. Hope of course says no, but then she talks to Tony, who for some inexplicable reason says maybe Hope should just do it for her. Hope then actually considers it. Why? Why would you even want to help her of all people? Do a nice person’s homework if you feel the need to cheat. Jeez.
The principal calls Tara into her office to check her story regarding Nick, and Tara assures Mrs. Oetjen that there is nothing going on. Nancy also hears the rumors, and declares that she trusts Nick, but she doesn’t trust Tara 100%.
Diana is mad when she hears that Principal Oetjen believed Nick and Tara. She makes her boyfriend Mark go pick up some little books of matches from the Co-Zee Lounge that have the lounge’s name printed on them. She plans to plant them on Nick. She writes a letter to the superintendent Dr. Barlow saying she can’t believe Nick and Tara are getting away with their relationship, and to check his desk drawer for some matches that prove the location they use to meet up. She signs it “A Concerned Student.”
Mark goes to hide the matches in Nick’s desk drawer and is almost caught by the superintendent, who comes in after getting the letter from Diana. Mark hides in the closet while Dr. Barlow opens the drawer and finds the matches.
Hope is at Diana’s house trying to help her with math again when Diana gets a call from Mark. Hope picks up the receiver to listen in on Diana’s conversation and hears Diana tell Mark she’s “sorry you had to hide in the closet” and Mark complaining that he could have gotten caught with the matches.
A special meeting is called to confront Nick about the accusations regarding Tara. The superintendent and Diana’s father are at Tarenton Towers getting ready to notify Nick about the meeting when they see Tara walking inside. She is there to pick up her cake from the caterer.
Sean and Peter arrive at Tarenton Towers too, apparently wanting to warn Nick about the meeting, which they heard about through the grapevine. They see the superintendent and Tara’s car. Superintendent Barlow and Mr. Tucker go knock on the door of the apartment Tara went into, and the caterer, Mrs. Pascoe, opens it. “Where is he, little lady?” Dr. Barlow demands as Tara looks on, confused. Sean and Peter rush in as well, and Mr. Tucker starts to realize this doesn’t look like the apartment of a 21-year-old teacher. Mrs. Pascoe says the men need to leave before she calls the police.
Meanwhile, Patrick is irate thinking Tara is cheating on him, and decides to leave town for a few days.
Hope figures out what happened thanks to her phone call eavesdropping earlier, and she tricks Mark into thinking Diana is about to be caught and will blame everything on him. He goes to the superintendent before the school board meeting and tells him everything that Diana did. Diana’s father also has no trouble believing his daughter was behind the scheme, and the notes used to lure Tara and Nick to the diner resemble the same way his typewriter at home types (or something). Diana is kicked out of Nick’s class and will have to go to summer school.
At the bake sale auction, Patrick shows up and bids $35 on a dessert (in 2016 that equals $73). He and Tara make up, so I guess he heard somewhere that she was cleared.
Other notes and quotes
- Tara and Hope talk about all of Diana’s schemes – “Anyone else who did the stuff Diana has done would have been bounced out of school.”
- Peter decides at the end of the book that he has a crush on Jessica.
Sign of the Times
- “Diana’s wardrobe ran to miniskirts, off-the-shoulder sweaters, hip-hugging belts, and lizard-look boots and handbags, ostentatiously fake in a rainbow of unsubtle shades.”
- “Her clock radio was playing the Cyndi Lauper song from a few years back – Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” Tara later has an argument with her teacher that this song is a feminist anthem.
Author: Lisa Norby
Pages: 139 (shortest book yet)
Next time on Cheerleaders… Who is writing those love poems and sending all the flowers to Sean’s girlfriend Kate… and why? Read Cheerleaders #44, PRETENDING.