Analyzing the cover: This is a pretty awesome depiction of computers at the time – I am old enough to remember that type of computer paper that was perforated at the end of each piece, and also those side edges with the holes that were also perforated and torn off (this is all very technical speech, I know). Also looks like a big floppy disk in Olivia’s hand, and gotta love the phone with the super long cord.
I made it! This is the final Cheerleaders book, which gives no indication that the series was over, except for the lack of a “next time on Cheerleaders” promo at the end of the story. The ending tagline only implores readers to check out #20 Starting Over to see how the new squad came to be. I wonder when and why it was decided to axe this series – I would guess not long before the final books were written, since there is no real resolution. It would have been nice to end the series with the seniors graduating or something like that, but I will be writing out my own thoughts about what happened to each character after the series ends, so don’t you worry! Now on to this book:
The squad is cheering at a game without Hope, who didn’t show up and didn’t call to say why. The group is worried about her.
Diana is getting the mascot ready at Mary Ellen’s request when she hears ME’s office phone ring. Diana answers, and it’s Hope, saying she’s at the emergency room. She asks Diana to tell Mary Ellen, but of course, Diana does not.
After the game, Mary Ellen and some of the cheerleaders go to Hope’s house, but no one is there. Then Hope drives up, wondering why they didn’t get her message – her brother, James, fell and hurt his arm. They realize it was probably Diana who took the message and purposefully failed to let them know. “I’d like to toast that girl on a stick,” Tara fumes. That’s graphic.
Peter has been feeling lonely lately. He wishes there was a way to guarantee yourself a date whenever you wanted one. In his computer science class, Peter teams up with a guy named Ken to develop a computer program for a grade. They come up with the idea of developing a matchmaking program. Their teacher suggests they have participants fill out a questionnaire to match interests and priorities. Ken says he wants to fix the program to set him up with a cheerleader.
Peter and Ken make a questionnaire and give it to 60 people throughout the junior and senior classes. Peter asks the cheerleaders to participate, even though most of them already have a significant other. “You don’t have to make a date with your match unless you want to,” he says. One by one, they give in and agree to participate. Ken comes in to watch them practice, then tells Peter that Melissa is the cheerleader he wants to be paired up with.
Pretty soon, everyone in school is clamoring to be a part of the project, and Peter has to keep turning people down. Ken spots Diana, and Peter tells him how horrible she is. Ken comes up with an idea to match her up with a guy who doesn’t even exist.
Peter and Ken feed the data into their program and begin printing out the results. Peter’s match is a girl named Terri Rogers, who he’s not very familiar with. They also print out the fake guy for Diana, and spend the rest of the night processing the rest of the results. Patrick, Duffy, and Kate are all jealous that their significant others are getting matched with other people. Olivia wonders if she’ll end up going with her match to the prom instead of Duffy OR Walt. Jessica and Melissa, both single, are kind of excited to see who they get.
After a cheerleading practice where everyone is dizzy with anticipation, Peter pulls out the envelope with their results. Jessica got Adam Logan, the gorgeous swim team captain. Sean and Tara get each other. “That’s not fair, I want someone I don’t know,” Sean complains. Melissa is confused to see that she got Ken. Hope got the captain of the debate team, Matthew Nikolias, and Olivia got Scott Prescott, a football player. Peter says it would be fun if everyone went on a date with their match, even though previously he’d promised them they didn’t have to do that. He plans to have a party that everyone can go to with their matches. One by one, they agree.
Jessica and Adam go out for a Coke, and they’re getting along great, but then he gets this weird obsession with insisting that Jessica should be captain over Olivia since she’s the best gymnast on the squad. Later, he calls her and invites her to his swim meet.
Diana tracks Ken down for her results, and he gives her the printout. He says there’s no name on it because the guy wants to remain anonymous and will set up a blind date with her. “He’d better call me soon or you’re dead!” Diana says. Later, Ken works up the courage to call Melissa and ask her to Peter’s party. When she says yes, he does a somersault of joy on his bed.
Peter takes awhile to get up the courage to call Terri, and he asks her out by calling and saying they should get together to “discuss” their results. He goes to her house, where she offers him a beverage. “It’s a regular Coke – my family doesn’t believe in artificial sweeteners.” They chat for a while, and she says yes when he invites her to his party, but something about her makes him feel insecure, like she’s not really his perfect match.
Scott asks Olivia to go for pizza and a movie. She thinks he seems a little insecure and nervous, and their dinner discussion gets too heavy when she talks about her heart problems as a child, and he talks about his brother who died of a genetic disorder – they had both put “health” as a top priority on their questionnaire. After the movie, Scott takes Olivia’s hand, but she wonders what she is doing. She already has two guys to worry about and doesn’t need another!
Jessica goes to Adam’s swim meet. Afterward, he talks about how he’s the best swimmer, which is why he’s captain. He again says Jessica is the best cheerleader and should be captain, and they make a perfect pair. He sounds like a robot. Jessica calls several members of the squad to ask them if they think Olivia is the best cheerleader and should be captain, but none of them will give her a straight answer.
Peter calls Diana and pretends to be her blind date. He tells her to meet him at the Pizza Palace. “It was the perfect way to get even with her for not giving Hope’s message to Mary Ellen.”
Sean and Tara meet up at Dopey’s to compare their printouts. They have the same priorities listed – school, social activities, sports. “We could be twins,” Sean says. Peter comes over and asks how it’s going. “We’re too alike; I think opposites attract,” Tara says.
As they get ready for the game, Hope, Tara, and Melissa talk about Jessica’s strange phone calls and the debate about what makes someone fit to be a captain. Jessica comes in, and Mary Ellen listens in as the conversation gets heated. Then when Olivia shows up, everyone changes the subject. Mary Ellen wonders if she should change the position of captain, since this seems to be causing some unrest among the squad.
During the game, Jessica shows off for Adam, which annoys Olivia. Mary Ellen tells her to calm down. Jessica requests to do a new difficult stunt called “The Bird.” She completes the stunt, and Adam goes crazy in the stands. Afterward, Mary Ellen tells Jessica she was trying to upstage Olivia and wasn’t being a team player. “Maybe I’m just a better cheerleader!” Jessica cries. Mary Ellen realizes Jessica wants to be captain, and says she will think about what Jessica said.
Peter drives Terri to his house, and she talks the whole way about her college plans. Peter just listens. When Peter’s party begins, Terri immediately starts talking to Matt, Hope’s date, about how they’re both perfectionists. Hope watches them and doesn’t want to interrupt. Peter sees and doesn’t mind – he never felt comfortable with Terri. Olivia dances with Scott, but the “special ‘it'” she feels with Walt and Duffy isn’t there.
Adam starts talking loudly to some of the cheerleaders about how Jessica should be captain over Olivia. Even though she was thinking the same thing very recently, Jessica yells at him for suggesting it to her fellow squad members. “No one is number one, and you have no right to talk about me to my friends.”
Peter tells the squad about his joke on Diana, and invites a few of them to go with him to the Pizza Palace for some pizzas, and to see how Diana is handling being stood up by her imaginary perfect guy. Sean, Olivia, and Hope go with him, and they talk about their matches in the car. Sean says he and Tara are like brother and sister. Olivia feels no spark with Scott. Both Hope and Peter are okay with their matches being more into each other. “Perhaps the ‘birds of a feather flock together’ theory creates friends and not couples,” Hope says. They also all hope Jessica drops Adam. They run into Mary Ellen and Pres outside the Pizza Palace, and all go in expecting to see Diana sitting alone and miserable. Instead, she has several Deep River basketball players paying her attention and fawning all over her. Oh, well.
Ken confesses to Melissa that he fixed the results to be paired with her. She is flattered, not angry. Adam drops Jessica off with a kiss on the cheek, but when he asks her to go out with him again, she says she doesn’t want to make any plans right now.
At the next practice, Mary Ellen says she and Olivia talked, and Olivia feels if the squad wants to hold an election for captain, she would understand. Jessica is the first to speak up and say no – Adam put the idea of her being captain in her head, but she’s fine just being part of the team, and she’s not even dating him – “He can put his name back into Ken’s computer.” Everyone else agrees, and then they do a cheer for Olivia. Jessica says Olivia is the best.
And with that, the last line of the Cheerleaders series is spoken by Olivia – “I’m not the best. We’re the best. And we’re getting better all the time!”
Other notes and quotes
- Tara thinks Patrick has the quiet strength of a young Clint Eastwood and the sensitive looks of Rob Lowe.
- Peter had a crush on Mary Ellen when he was a sophomore.
- One girl tells Peter she thinks it’s “demented” Tara and Sean got matched. “I don’t think it’s healthy for cheerleaders to date each other.”
- Olivia asks Scott to dance, and he warns her that he’s better at disco – which has surely been out of style for quite a while at this point?
Sign of the Times
- Ken asks Peter if he remembers “that Matthew Broderick movie,” referring to Ferris Bueller.
- Ken asks Peter if Diana is Madonna’s little sister, and Peter says “More like Sean Penn’s!”
- Tara tells Patrick she wouldn’t date her computer match even if it turned out to be Rob Lowe.
- The cheerleaders warm up to the theme from Flashdance.
- The match party at Peter’s house is decorated with floppy disks hanging along a string.
- “Jessica and Adam were the first to dance to a new Lionel Richie release.”
Author: Judith Weber
To read the recaps from the very beginning, see my post on Cheerleaders #1, TRYING OUT.