The Best & Worst of Cheerleaders

Processed with Rookie Cam

Favorite character: For much of the series this would have been Patrick, but then he started coming off a little too desperate and pushy, especially when he kept trying to pressure Jessica into getting more serious with him. I also never understood why he let Mary Ellen get away with her shenanigans. So I would have to say, my favorite character overall was Angie. She was never rude, she never set out to hurt anyone, she LOVED to eat, she never let anyone’s comments about her weight get her down, and when the new hot guy Christopher Page liked her, she had no idea – she was just trying to set him up with Nancy, who had recently lost Ben. Angie was the best.

Least favorite character: If I had to pick a cheerleader, I would pick Mary Ellen, who was an absolute horror show during her time as a student. She got better after she graduated, but I could never forget how terrible she had been. But if I was going to pick anyone out of the main and recurring characters, it would without a doubt be David Douglas Duffy, who was SO FREAKING ANNOYING, I wanted to punch Olivia just for dating him.

Favorite couple: Sean and Kate. They were pretty great throughout their whole relationship. They even got tested a bit when she broke up with him to date that loser limerick-writer, but then she realized Sean was the guy for her. Also, Sean never cheated on her or even looked at another girl when he was with her, which was so unlike his character. The rest of the main relationships were unhealthy or boring or unstable. Sean and Kate were pretty good.

Least favorite couple: David Duffy and Olivia. My least favorite couple would be David Duffy and anyone. I hated him!

Best one-book storyline: I actually think two of the last books were the best as far as one-book hooks – #44 Pretending, where Sean writes love poems to win Kate back, and #47 Dating, where Peter creates a computer program to match students together for dates, were both enjoyable overall.

Worst one-book storyline: That would have to be #13 Hurting – there were actually two ridiculous storylines in that book, with Walt and Nancy caught “parking” and Walt randomly accused of a burglary, along with Pres’ new girlfriend Claudia needing back surgery, and Mary Ellen’s inexplicable obsession with making Pres change her mind about not getting the operation.

Best temporary love interest: Ben Adamson, the Garrison basketball player who has a Romeo/Juliet romance with Nancy, then transfers to Tarenton and later dies. It certainly wasn’t the best relationship, but he provided some interesting storylines before his demise.

Worst temporary love interest: I won’t count Duffy in this since he lasted way too long. Instead I will have to go with another Nancy boyfriend, Eric Campbell, who wanted Nancy to forego attending Brown University and instead attend community college with him. Please!!!

Best overall book: I really liked #16 In Love. It had a few different interesting storylines, and I enjoyed the development of Angie and Chris’ new romance.

Worst overall book: Tie between #9 Playing Games, #13 Hurting, and #43 Telling Lies. All were just disjointed, not enjoyable to read, all over the place.

Favorite author: It probably would be Judith Weber if she had written more – she did two books, and I gave both of them As. Of the authors with a much larger sample size, Jennifer Sarasin seems to have gotten the best grades from me, with two As, several Bs, and a small handful of Cs, plus one D.

Least favorite author: Lisa Norby’s books got the most F grades from me. I found several of her books to have some convoluted side plots that I just could not get into.


NOT Hot for Teacher (#43 – Telling Lies)

FullSizeRender (31)

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

  1. “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.”
  2. “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.

Book Deets
Author: Lisa Norby
Year: 1988
Pages: 139 (shortest book yet)

Grade: F

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.

Paging Miss Cleo (#38 – Talking Back)

FullSizeRender (27)

Analyzing the cover: I love Sean’s look of complete amusement as Tara and her french braid look so serious. 

Ugh, we’re still not rid of David Douglas Duffy, for some reason. Apparently Olivia still considers Duffy her “special friend,” whatever that means. I thought she’d dumped him for good last book. If only we could be so lucky. He tells the squad about how he has to write a feature story on Madame Magda, a local psychic who helped police locate an abducted child. She apparently predicted he would be found in a hunter’s cabin. David thinks she was just guessing and doesn’t believe anyone will actually be interested in his story. Everyone laughs off the idea that a psychic could be real, except Tara, who gives it more credit.

Speaking of Tara, she is jealous that Patrick and Jessica are getting along so well. They keep talking about “old times” that weren’t all that long ago and reminiscing about things that happened during their own relationship.

Olivia is taking aerobics classes with Melissa and feeling insecure about her looks. Melissa reminds her that she’s got two guys crazy about her – Duffy and Walt. “Logic told Olivia she should avoid getting involved with either boy. But why shouldn’t she date both of them?” Inspired by her newfound girl power, Olivia tweezes her eyebrows for the first time, puts on makeup, and buys a miniskirt.

Tara goes to see Madame Magda, who says she senses romance trouble in Tara’s aura and sees her man with someone else, someone wearing a red and white uniform. Tara is angry. “My boyfriend is two-timing me and I’m not going to let him get away with it!”

Tara spots Patrick’s moving van at the Pancake House, but doesn’t see him in the restaurant. She interrogates Nancy, who’s visiting from Brown, and Nick Stewart, who are eating together. They insist Patrick wasn’t with Jessica and that he just went across the street to the newsstand. Tara says she knows he was with Jessica because a psychic told her. Nick jokes that maybe Jessica was just invisible then, and starts to order Invisible Jessica some food. Tara doesn’t know what to think. Then she notices that Nancy has her old cheerleading uniform in a plastic bag. She explains that she got it dry-cleaned and is going to wear it to a costume party back at school. Tara thinks that what Madame Magda saw was Tara’s former paramour, Nick, with Nancy, who had the red and white cheerleading uniform.

When Patrick comes back, Tara showers him with kisses. He’s confused but just accepts it. “Tara was one great-looking girl, and she was always so warm and full of enthusiasm. So what if she was a little flakey at times?”

When Sean sees Olivia in her new look, he asks her if she’s observing National Eyeshadow Week. Olivia says that’s better than honoring National Stupidity Week. Boom. Hurt by his comment, Olivia slips in the bathroom where she sees evil Diana Tucker and the captain of the pompon squad, Holly. Diana leaves without remark, but Holly compliments Olivia and asks if she did something different with her hair. Apparently no one wears more makeup than Holly – Olivia thinks she looks like a raccoon with earrings. The rest of the squad is divided on if they think Olivia looks better now or before.

Tara brings Olivia to Madame Magda to get advice about Duffy and Walt, but Madame Magda has nothing to say. She just tells Olivia she sees her with a flower behind her ear, feeling happy. She will know who to choose when the time comes. Then the psychic tells Tara she sees her having a journey where boys with numbers on their backs are running back and forth – the basketball game. She sees a devil, something slick, and a crash. Tara asks what it means, but Magda says sometimes her visions mean nothing. Olivia thinks Madame Magda was putting on a show, but Tara believes it was sincere.

Tara thinks they shouldn’t even go to the next game because of Madame Magda’s vision. Clearly they’re in danger. Coach Engborg says if Tara is so sure, she can stay home and Melissa will cheer in her place: “I won’t have you scaring the rest of the squad with these foolish superstitions.” Tara leaves the practice upset, but then decides she just has to find a way to keep the squad from going to the game.

Olivia and Sean go to the mall, and he asks what’s up with her and Walt. She says Walt is mad that she continues to hang out with Duffy and wants her 100% to himself. But she isn’t ready to fully commit to him after the way he dumped her last summer. She visits Walt at work and asks him to hang out with her, and he presses her again about being exclusive with him. She explains again why she’s not ready, and Walt seems to relent. Then she asks for help with a cheerleading routine and he accuses of her of only wanting his advice, not him.

Tough Tony Pell drops by and tells Olivia she looks great with her new look: “That’s a really bad image. Bad in the sense of good, I mean.” Olivia glows with happiness that a guy finally complimented her – Walt had only said she looked “different.” Then Tony picks out a pink rose from a plant and puts it behind her ear. At that moment, Olivia remembers Madame Magda’s prediction and shivers.

Jessica goes running and crosses paths with Peter. They end up jogging together for a long time, and when they stop to take a break, Jessica thinks about how attractive Peter is. Tara drives by and calls out to them about how it’s such a beautiful day. For some unknown reason, she has Diana Tucker in her car, and they are headed to play tennis. Jessica wonders if Peter is still hung up on Diana, who made a play for him when she first moved to town. Diana teases them about being together.

Tara apparently invited Diana to play tennis so that she could tell the whole psychic story to someone else. Diana says she totally believes in all that stuff: “I went to see [a psychic] once, and he told me in a former life I was burned at the stake as a witch.” Tara is so glad someone doesn’t think she’s crazy, she forgets Diana is a nutjob and tells her all about the premonition involving an accident and the basketball game.

Diana suggests they kidnap the basketball team – not sure if serious. Tara laughs and asks how they would restrain all of them, and Diana says she could get sleeping pills from her mom. “Tara was still laughing, but she was starting to feel a little nervous, too. It was hard to tell when Diana was kidding.” Diana then says they could hide the cheerleaders’ uniforms, because Coach would never let them go to the game in their street clothes. Tara doesn’t want to sabotage the squad. “What if you don’t do it, and the squad gets in a terrible accident?” Diana asks. Tara says they need to do something, but not hiding uniforms. Diana suggests something that will scare the squad into staying home.

Sean and Kate are at the mall shopping for a birthday present for her dad when they spot Sean’s father examining refrigerators with Marge, his secretary and on-off girlfriend. Sean hides and wonders if this means they’re getting married. He’s upset that his dad would keep that a secret from him. Jessica comes upon them and tells them about how Tara is causing all these problems with the psychic stuff and now hanging out with Diana. Madame Magda is holding a demonstration in the mall that afternoon, so Sean says they should go confront her and tell her to leave Tara alone.

Jessica, Sean, and Kate attend the demonstration, where Madame Magda asks the audience to send up small items for her to “read.” Sean sends a pocketknife and Jessica sends up a compact. Madame Magda looks at the pocketknife and says it belongs to a young man worrying about the future of a relationship – Sean thinks of his father and Marge. Then she looks at Jessica’s compact and says it’s a young woman who is attracted to someone with  P name – Peter. Jessica turns bright red and Sean looks at her: “Are you nursing a secret passion for Peter?” Madame Magda asks Jessica if she’s right, and Jessica tries to insist that she’s not. After the presentation, Sean says he was actually impressed and that he learned something new about Jessica. She threatens to never speak to him again if he says anything about it to anyone. “There’s nothing wrong with a little crush, I’m sure Peter won’t mind,” Sean teases. Kate still doesn’t believe in it and says maybe someone working with Madame Magda had overheard them talking about their friends and Sean’s dad, and passed along the information or something.

Olivia brings her and Melissa’s aerobics instructor to cheerleading practice to teach them stuff for a new routine before their game against Danville. They learn how to do the jitterbug from the teacher, who said she used to give lessons back in the 1940s. Someone mentions that Danville’s mascot is the Red Devil, and Sean points out that Tara’s psychic prediction included mention of a devil.

The group – sans Tara – is at Benny’s along with the most annoying person in the world, David Duffy. Olivia is fidgeting because Walt is supposed to meet her any minute and will not be happy seeing her sitting by Duffy. She tries to get up so she can just meet Walt outside, but Duffy stops her with 100 questions about why Walt can’t just come in and sit with them. Walt arrives and sees Duffy, then leaves and tells Olivia that maybe he just doesn’t fit in her life like Duffy does. Olivia tells Duffy she needs space, but he doesn’t seem interested in giving her any.

Jessica is home alone when she starts hearing noises outside. She goes down to look out the window. “Then she saw it – a face with huge, pointy teeth and a grinning mouth.” The face disappears. Jessica runs to make sure all her doors are locked. She’s not sure if it was a big dog or a person wearing a mask, which is a scarier prospect. She calls the police and is told that a patrol car will be sent over. Then she calls Peter, who rides his bike over and insists on staying with her until her parents get home. They start to get close, but then for some reason Peter declares that after getting hurt by Hope he has no intention to really care about another girl any time soon. That shakes Jessica. They get close again, about to kiss. “Her body was saying yes.” But the thought that she could get involved with him and have him not care about her keeps her from going through with it. She shifts away from him, and the mood passes.

The group runs into Tara, who hasn’t been around at practice and is fighting with Patrick. Jessica tells her about the “prowler,” and Tara gets defensive about how she had nothing to do with it. Surrrre. She says she can’t force them to listen to her about Madame Magda, but tonight they’ll find out if the prediction is true.

Hope tries to get Tara alone to talk about this nonsense and ask if she had some prior knowledge of the prowler at Jessica’s house, but Diana won’t leave Tara’s side. Patrick agrees to help Hope get some answers: “This psychic powers stuff is ruining my love life. How can I kiss a girl when she’s worried about getting her aura wrinkled?” Patrick picks Hope up from school to go confront Madame Magda, and word gets back to Tara from people who saw them together.

When they get to Madame Magda’s, they run into pompon squad captain Holly Hudson, who says she’s been coming to get readings as well, usually trying to get scores of basketball games. Hope thinks that’s part of how Madame Magda knows so much about them – Holly has been blabbing about her whole life and the lives of people at school. Hope and Patrick decide to leave without talking to Madame Magda, and go tell the squad there’s really nothing to worry about.

Tara didn’t have any part in planning to scare Jessica but knows immediately that Diana was behind it. “It was true that she and Diana had planned to use the old wolf suit to scare the cheerleaders into skipping the Danville game,” but Tara had no idea it would involve going to someone’s house. Diana says that was just a dress rehearsal, and Tara is going to help her with the next phase, or Diana will tell Coach Engborg that it was all Tara’s idea. Hope and Patrick try to go talk to Tara after they get back from Madame Magda’s, but she brushes them off.

Tara shows up at school as the squad is getting ready to leave for the game. Coach says if she comes to her office on Monday, they can talk about reinstating her to the squad.  Meanwhile Hope has had trouble convincing the rest of the squad that they don’t need to worry. Jessica is still shaken up over what happened at her house. Hope goes into the school to get something and sees something with fangs in the darkness. She turns to sprint away and tells everyone outside that she saw the hairy creature Jessica had seen. Coach Engborg says she’s just giving in to hysteria, and they all get on the minibus to go to the game. ???? So what exactly was this wolf costume supposed to accomplish??

After the squad leaves, Tara gets Duffy, who has a camera for the newspaper, to take a picture of Diana as she comes out with the wolf mask in her hand. Diana says if that picture gets out, she’ll tattle on Tara for working with her. Tara admits to Duffy that it’s true she tried to keep the squad from going to the game, because she worried they were in danger, but it didn’t work – they left anyway. Diana says that they might go to Danville but they won’t be cheering, because she swiped their uniforms out of the storage compartment in the minibus: “I bet you anything Coach Engborg will think Olivia and Melissa forgot them.” Tara says if she and Duffy hurry, they can get the uniforms to the game in time.

They make it to the game location, and so does the squad. While Duffy distracts the squad by taking a team photo of them, Tara hurries to put the uniforms back in the bus so Coach will never know they were missing. Lastly, Tara is trying to transfer the wolf mascot costume to the bus so that the evidence can be out of her car, but Coach Engborg sees her with it and assumes she brought it so she can dress up like the mascot for the game. Jessica and Hope immediately recognize the mask. They try to interrogate Tara, but she puts them off.

While cheering at the game, Olivia spots Duffy and Walt sitting together in the bleachers. She feels panicky thinking that she might be forced to choose between them. I fully support her pulling a Kelly Taylor and choosing herself. Ultimately Walt and Duffy have made amends, and Olivia tries to make them see that she can’t be pressured to make a choice.

Tara comes out in the mascot uniform and looks ridiculous. She is dying of embarrassment when she hears Danville’s cheerleaders cheering for someone named Slick. Was that what Madame Magda saw when she said there would be something “slick”? She can barely see out of the mask and ends up crashing into someone and falling on the court. Was that the accident Madame Magda referred to? After the game, she explains everything about Diana to Jessica and Hope.

The “big” finale – Duffy interviews Madame Magda on his radio show where he presents her with accusations that she was seen eavesdropping on Sean, Kate, and Jessica at the mall before she gave accurate readings about them at her demonstration. Then Duffy tries to bring up her prediction about the basketball game, but Madame Magda gets all defensive and says she’s leaving. “I’ve had it with you and all you impertinent Tarenton High kids! I’m going somewhere I’ll be appreciated!”

That’s the big reveal? This is how they prove she’s fake – because she was eavesdropping on three kids she had no way of knowing would come to her demonstration later that day? Really?? I thought it would turn out to be something like Diana paying her to try and cause trouble for the cheerleaders and keep them from going to a game. But no, she was wearing a hat and sitting close enough to teenagers to hear them without them noticing? So lame!!!

Everyone is happy that’s over with, but Tara considers the fact that MM knew about the flower behind Olivia’s ear and the semi-accident she had as mascot at the game. Maybe it wasn’t all fake.

Other notes and quotes

  • Olivia makes her own “prediction” – “You guys are the best bunch of friends I’ll ever have!” Gag me. But what about Nancy and Angie? What about Mary Ellennnnn??
  • Everyone starts dancing to music in the living room for some reason after Duffy exposes Madame Magda, and Jessica asks Peter to dance. Will this lead anywhere? Who knows.
  • The squad practices a cheer that requires Peter and Sean to sing, but Sean’s singing is terrible. “Stop, I’m begging you,” Jessica says.


Sign of the Times

  1. Tara – “Maybe her romance with Patrick would turn out like that season of Dallas where a whole year’s worth of episodes turned out to be a dream.”
  2. Walt asks Olivia to come over to his house and watch tapes on the VCR

Book Deets
Author: Lisa Norby
Year: 1988
Pages: 156

Grade: D

Next time on Cheerleaders… Alternate cheerleader Melissa falls in love for the first time with a smooth new senior – only to discover that he’s interested in Jessica, too! Read Cheerleaders #39, ALL OR NOTHING.

Leader of the Pack (#34 – Coming Back)

FullSizeRender (23)

Analyzing the cover: “Mary Ellen is back.” Back? When did she ever leave? She’s been mentioned in every godforsaken book of this series. Sweet sweatsuit she’s got on. You know ME, if she were a real person, would have had those hideous velour tracksuits in every color in the mid-2000s.

When Olivia is late for practice thanks to her annoying boyfriend David Duffy, Coach Engborg decides to fill in her spot in the routine. When attempting a cart-wheel, Coach collapses on the ground in pain. The following exchange takes place:
Tara: “Someone call an ambulance. Then we have to do CPR. I saw it on TV once. I think it was on a rerun of ‘Benson.'”
Peter: “That was the Heimlich Maneuver.”
Coach: “It’s a good thing I don’t need CPR.”
The problem is Coach’s knee, which she had an operation on in an earlier book when that loser came in as a substitute and almost burned the school down. She fears she’s messed it up again. Sean is getting a wheelchair so he can roll her to a vehicle and drive her to the hospital when Olivia finally shows up and sees what happened. Of course her first thought is all about herself – “This is all my fault!!”

Tara is giving Hope driving lessons as she prepares to try and get her license. A previous driving instructor insisted Hope was ready to take the test, but she is still scared. When they’re driving by the lake in Tara’s car, Hope spots a dirty puppy and pulls over to put him in the car. Then the car refuses to start, so Hope flags down a passing motorcyclist. It’s Tony Pell, who Tara moans is known as “Tough Tony” and got kicked out of school for supposedly stealing a car. Hope thinks he’s cute. “Cute but dangerous,” Tara says. Tony looks at the car and within a minute has it running again. They talk about the puppy, and Hope says she can’t bring it home because her mom is allergic to dogs. Tara snipes that she can’t take it home either because her mom would kill her if it got on the white couch. Tony says he could keep it for a few days until they decide what to do with it. After he leaves with the dog, Tara again tries to warn Hope about him. But like me, the sight of a guy with a puppy has Hope with hearts for eyes.

Olivia is called to the principal’s office where a handwritten letter from Coach Engborg awaits. Coach says she has to have an operation again, “the same operation they do for professional football players,” and that she had already been planning to hire an assistant, so that assistant will have to take the full job on while she recovers. Olivia looks and sees Mary Ellen Kirkwood Tilford III waiting in the office. This is Mary Ellen’s fourth new life plan since she graduated high school. Olivia is thrilled that Mary Ellen will be their new assistant coach and promises they will treat her just like she’s a real coach.

When Olivia tells the squad the news, they are not as thrilled as she is. Jessica feels slightly uncomfortable that her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend is going to be her coach. Tara is just annoyed. “Mary Ellen was Tarenton’s Cinderella. Everyone loves Cinderella, but that’s because in the story she goes off with the prince and lives happily every after. She doesn’t hang around, reminding everyone that they’ll never be quite as perfect as she is.” Sean thinks it will be hard to view Mary Ellen as an authority figure.

Tara tells everyone about her and Hope’s run-in with Tough Tony. Peter says that Tony was accused of stealing a car when they cops found the initials TP scratched into the engine block. He dropped out of school and lives in a rundown farmhouse with wrecked cars out in front of it. Jessica said all the Pell boys were troublemakers. Hope yells at them all for being so judgmental. “You all expected him to turn out badly, and now you almost seem happy that he lived up to your expectations.”

Hope is getting her hair cut at the mall when Tony comes by and taps on the window of the shop. The hairstylist says she hates when hoods come around, and Hope hotly defends him and runs out to talk to him. She rides on his motorcycle to go see the puppy, which he has apparently named Muttsy. Hope put an ad in the paper about the lost dog, but has not heard anything back. Tony takes her to the garage where he works, which is where he is keeping Muttsy. Tony has washed the puppy and taken it to the vet (I’m again melting along with Hope). Tony tells Hope that he didn’t know the car he was accused of stealing was stolen. He had modified it for drag racing and put his initials on it like an artist signing his work. He’d never have done that if he knew it was stolen. He says the charges were dismissed against him, but public opinion had already convicted him at Tarenton. As a result, he decided not go to go back and transferred to another school.

The whole squad, along with their significant others, are at the Pizza Palace when Hope and Tony walk in together. Tony doesn’t want to sit with her friends after seeing the shocked expressions on their faces, but Hope tells him to give them a chance. Then Diana Tucker’s voice rises above the crowd, saying, “Hope Chang is really slumming.” Tony tells Diana to leave Hope out of it, and then Diana’s boyfriend Bill Hadley gets all in Tony’s face. Sean and Peter break it up, and Hope and Tony leave.
Diana: “They shouldn’t let troublemakers like him come in here.”
Peter: “If they didn’t, you would be eating your pizza in the parking lot.”

Sean wants Kate to come over, but she says her parents don’t like her to spend too much time at his house since his bachelor father is always out and about. Sean is offended and Kate says she’s on his side but can’t disobey her parents. Sean gets home and their house is a mess because their housekeeper, Windy, is on vacation visiting her sister. Sean cleans up, then takes a call from his father’s secretary/girlfriend Marge, who is wondering where his dad is. Sean doesn’t know and is a little tired of his dad being so unpredictable. He tells him so when his dad gets home, and his dad grouses that Sean must be getting too serious with Kate because he’s turning into a domesticated nag.

Olivia claimed she would respect Mary Ellen as a coach, but the very first change Mary Ellen wants to make has Olivia up in arms. When Mary Ellen says they can’t do a particular pyramid because Coach Engborg doesn’t want them doing it without her there, Olivia has a conniption. “Mary Ellen you can’t do this to us!” Mary Ellen tersely tells her those are the coach’s orders and if she has a problem she can take it up with the principal. She also tells Olivia not to call her Melon at school.

Mary Ellen asks Olivia why she hasn’t gone to visit Coach Engborg in the hospital. It’s because Olivia feels responsible for her accident. Mary Ellen says Engborg has an idea to hold tryouts for cheerleader alternates who would fill in when one of the regular members is sick or has to drop out. Olivia doesn’t like that idea because it would give Diana an in to the squad.

Jessica and Patrick go over to Mary Ellen and Pres’ to watch a movie version of “Romeo and Juliet.” When Jessica declares that she would never get married as a teenager or want to kill herself over some guy, the Tilfords give her that annoying “Oh, you think that now but you’ll change your mind” spiel (about young marriage, not suicide). Jessica rightfully tells them that just because they got married young doesn’t mean she’s going to want to any time soon, and that she’s not a child compared to them. That night she has a nightmare about getting married to Patrick with Pres and Mary Ellen as best man and maid of honor.

Sean thinks if his dad gets remarried then Kate will be allowed to come to his house, so he decides to try and push his dad and Marge toward matrimony by making them a romantic dinner on his dad’s birthday. He tells Marge about it and that it’s going to be a surprise.

Various rumors are going around school, varying from Tony attacking Diana at the Pizza Palace to Diana catching Tony and Hope breaking into cars and them beating her up to make her stay silent. Olivia tells Hope it would be better for the sterling reputation of the squad if Hope stopped seeing Tony, but Hope does not appreciate that suggestion. She accuses Olivia of being the reason Coach Engborg got hurt and of being jealous of Mary Ellen. Everyone sees Tony pick Hope up from school on his motorcycle, and they ride around, going to his garage and getting something to eat. Hope says she’ll go to his next drag race if he agrees to try and get along with her squadmates.

Diana and Hope argue in the hallway about Tony, and when Hope turns to go, her backpack bumps Diana, so Diana shoves her. They have to go to the principal’s office, and they get detention. Hope feels like a common criminal.

Sean is having trouble cooking for the surprise birthday dinner he has planned. His father finds him in the kitchen, still unaware what’s going on, and blames Kate again. “She doesn’t bother to fix herself up cute. She contradicts every word you say. Now she’s got you in the kitchen.” Kate shows up with cake, and then Marge arrives. Sean serves them dry meatloaf, sticky rice, and frozen vegetables. But at least he tried. Marge confides in Sean that she’s not looking to get serious with anyone, and she and his dad have worked that out. Sean doesn’t know what that means.

The only cheerleader Mary Ellen feels comfortable with right now is Jessica. When she suggests that they double date after the game, Jessica says okay even though she knows that there’s a dance at the church social hall only for high school students and their dates, so Pres and Mary Ellen wouldn’t be able to get in. Jessica tells the squad about how Patrick and Pres are going to be helping move some expensive antiques from an estate sale on Saturday, and Mary Ellen says that was supposed to be a secret because the antiques are so valuable. Jessica says the squad won’t tell anyone.

At the basketball game, Hope leaves the court floor to go talk to Tony by the door. Olivia stalks over to go get her, so when Tarenton scores a point, Mary Ellen lets her instinct get to her and grabs a megaphone to fill in. Jessica yanks it out of her hand. “Why do you have to be so greedy? You had your year to be the sweetheart of Tarenton High. You had Patrick wrapped around your little finger and you didn’t even want him. Now you have Pres. Why can’t you stand back and give the rest of us a chance?” Later as they go to the dance, Patrick asks Jessica if she’s being too hard on Mary Ellen. Jessica admits she’s still jealous of Mary Ellen, not just because of Patrick but because she seems perfect. Patrick tells Jessica she needs to “follow her own star.”

At the venue of the illegal road race, Hope overhears two guys talking about stealing a truck full of antiques. Hope tells Tony she wants to leave, so he drops out of the race and they go to the dance. While there, Hope remembers what Jessica said about Patrick moving items from an estate sale and realizes that must be who those guys are planning to hijack. Tony says she can’t tell police because how will she explain being at the illegal race?

Olivia finally goes to visit Coach Engborg, who tells her to take it easy on Mary Ellen. She had to give up her dreams of being a model in NYC, so she is far from perfect and not where she thought she’d be. Olivia promises to try.

The squad gets together to do a cheerleading clinic at the sports center where Kate and Sean volunteer, but Hope doesn’t show up. Afterward they go looking for her and are passed by a speeding police car with its sirens wailing. They decide to follow it and find several police cars, including two unmarked vehicles, surrounding Patrick’s moving van. Hope and Tony are sitting in the backseat of one of the unmarked cars, and then two guys in handcuffs are led to another police vehicle. One of the arrested guys yells that they won’t forget that Tony did this. Yeah, maybe he shouldn’t have been there for them to see who snitched? Not very smart.

Hope and Tony explain that Tony went to the police first and claimed he had overheard the story so that Hope wouldn’t have to. Then the police worked with Pres and Patrick to set up a trap for the thieves. Patrick offers Tony a job with the moving company, and Tony decides to keep Muttsy. The only bad thing is Hope isn’t sure if she really likes Tony or if she was just being rebellious. She tells Tony she needs time to figure it all out, and he says he won’t give up on her.

Other notes and quotes

  • Duffy says he didn’t help Sean and Peter break up the argument between Tony and Bill because it’s against his religion to pick a fight – he’s a pacifist. Hardy har har.
  • Sean worries what his dad will do when he goes off to college, and if their housekeeper Windy ends up retiring or moving away. I’m thinking he’d hire a new housekeeper? Just a guess.
  • While sitting in class someone hums the tune to “Leader of the Pack” at Hope, which I think is AWESOME. I would so claim that song.

Sign of the Times

  1. Tara mentions the show “Benson,” which I’d never heard of but apparently had a respectable run on television from 1979-1986.
  2. Tony tells Hope “We’re the only Pells in the book.” That would be the telephone book.
  3. Sean asks if Mary Lou Retton is their new coach.
  4. Diana wears a long turtleneck and then belts it at the waist so it resembles a very short dress, saying that it’s the latest fashion.
  5. Sean asks Kate to come over and listen to some tapes and thinks about how his dad likes to listen to Cyndi Lauper records.
  6. Tara wants the squad to dress like Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret” and sings the theme song in the locker room.
  7. Hope compares how everyone stops and stares at her and Tony coming into the dance to the E.F. Hutton commercials where everyone freezes at the mention of the name E.F. Hutton.

Book Deets
Author: Lisa Norby
Year: 1987
Pages: 155

Grade: B

Next time on Cheerleaders… What happens when a new cheerleader joins the squad? Read Cheerleaders #35, MOVING UP.

Dirty Diana (#28- Scheming)

FullSizeRender (17)

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

  1. Tara dreams of being presented an Oscar for Best Actress by Robert Redford, beating out Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, and… Ally Sheedy!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Book Deets
Author: Lisa Norby
Year: 1987
Pages: 172

Grade: F

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.

It’s (Not) So Hard to Say Goodbye (#20 – Starting Over)

FullSizeRender (9)

Analyzing the cover: Last chance to feast your eyes on our original squad. Except for all the times this photo will be used in the background of future covers, even though most of these characters will be long gone. 

And so the transition from original squad to new squad begins with our first Super Edition. This recap is wayyyy too long, but oh well.

Olivia’s mom is saying how glad she is that both football and basketball season are over, so that she doesn’t have to worry about Olivia over-extending herself anymore (we are reminded that Olivia had a heart defect as a child and went through numerous operations – it’s finally relevant again in this book). Olivia tells her that they still have to cheer at Field Day, where they will hand over their megaphones and pompons to the new cheerleading squad. Olivia still isn’t sure if she’s going to try out to be on the squad again. She wants to, but she has misgivings about having to work with 5 new people and she’s worried she won’t match up to the new competition. She’s particularly jealous of Jessica Bennett, a fellow junior who shined at the recent cheerleading clinic and flirted with Walt.

About 30 cheerleading hopefuls are packed into the gym going through exercises led by Coach Engborg and the current squad. These are apparently practices before the real tryouts eventually begin the last week of May. The participants are asked to “leap” across the gym one by one, whatever that means, and Walt and Olivia sit and commentate on each one. When Jessica goes, Walt raves about how good she is, and Olivia’s insecurity starts to fester. It’s made worse when the squad members are sent out to show participants various moves and answer their questions, and Olivia watches Walt demonstrate a lift with Jessica.

Olivia runs into a hopeful named Tara outside the school, and they are headed in the same direction, so they walk together. Tara asks Olivia if she’s burned out on cheerleading. She says she’d be honored to be on the squad with Olivia (mmmhmm, sure), but if she was Olivia she’d have second thoughts about trying out again. Olivia is “touched” by Tara’s perceptiveness and concern, even though to me it looks like Tara is just trying to clear out the competition.

Tara gets home and chats with her mom’s bridge club, and we get some background info on her life. Her dad is a lawyer and dotes on her above all else. She plays the part of the perfect daughter, knowing that will get her more than if she played the part of a spoiled brat. She doesn’t have nor want any female friends, and she prefers to date various guys rather than settle down with one person. As she goes up to her room, she thinks about the chances that she convinced Olivia not to try out. She figures there’s nothing she can do to stop Jessica Bennett from making the squad, and she probably wouldn’t be able to convince anyone else not to try out, but she thinks about two girls named Sally and Betsey, and tries to figure out a way she can mess up their routines. “How pleased Mother and Dad will be when I get on the squad, she thought. I wonder what they’ll give me.” So is this our new villain now that Vanessa is going bye-bye?

Next we meet Hope Chang, who is a straight-A student, reporter on the school paper, and a violinist. Her father is a doctor, and her parents are the ones pressuring her to try out for the squad. She is an obedient daughter who doesn’t want to displease her mom and dad. Angie has made Hope her protegé at practice.

Walt and Sean are walking Jessica home and competing for her attention. Walt isn’t sure why he jumped at the chance to walk with Jessica, and he also can’t explain his impulse to punch Sean for flirting with Jessica. Is this just a momentary transgression or something more? Get a grip, Walt.

Patrick and Pres are riding around talking about life. I could ship this. Pres says if he doesn’t go to Princeton and spend the summer working for his father’s company, he might be disowned and lose his inheritance, but it might be worth it to have the freedom to make his own choices. Patrick tells Pres that maybe if they expand their moving business and get another truck, Pres could go full time with it and tell his father he’s still going to be a businessman – just not in the family business.

At the next practice, Coach Engborg tells the participants that they need to work on their own original routines that will show some originality for tryouts. Meanwhile, she’s going to be working with the varsity squad for their Field Day performance. Olivia wonders how she can be expected to do both things.

Tara shows Betsey some fancy finishing move, and then says Betsey can use it in her routine because Tara plans to do something different. “Tara was pleased that Betsey was so susceptible to her suggestion.” She plans to find Sally and show her the exact same finishing move, so that the judges would be suspicious about the identical endings and note their non-originality. Next, Tara goes up to Mary Ellen and sucks up to her. Mary Ellen is always amenable to some empty flattery.

Nancy has apparently received early admittance to Brown University, which she says is the reason she’d fought with her boyfriend Eric. He wants her to go to community college with him instead. (Last book, it was said she had been considering going to State.) She and Eric have made up because she told him she would reconsider going to Brown. Really – she’s going to consider going to a community college over Brown??? For some dumb guy she met two weeks ago??? PLEASE!!! I can’t. Nancy’s mom suggests she throw an end-of-the-year party, and Nancy decides to make it a cheerleader mixer where all the tryout participants can come and mingle with the squad.

Nancy makes an invite list for the party. Walt tells the girls he hopes they’re inviting some of the “new talent.” Ugh. Olivia knows he’s thinking about Jessica. She needs to hit him upside the head. The girls invite Walt and Pres over to help with the invitations, but Walt says he’s already got plans – Jessica asked him for some help going over specific cheerleading moves. Ugh again. Slap him.

Peter Rayman has a bit of an inferiority complex, and envies guys like Sean Dubrow, who apparently brags about being a bachelor with his dad (since his mom died when he was a child). Peter lives with his mom and has to help around the house and make dinner when she’s working late. “He tried not to let it bother him that Sean invariably mentioned some swinging restaurant he and his father had gone to – even on school nights!” I’m not sure if “swinging” is just a term to mean “cool” or “fancy,” or if Sean and his father are going to some kind of brothel type establishment. Peter’s not very experienced with girls, but he has a huge crush on Hope Chang. “Just thinking about clasping Hope around the waist and lifting her up in the air made Peter flush.”

Peter gets to the next practice early, hoping to ask Hope to practice lifts with him, but he arrives to see Sean already chatting her up. A girl named Carla, who Peter notes is about 15 pounds heavier than him, asks if he wants to be her partner for lifts. Because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, he says yes. As he and Carla are walking across the gym, he passes Sean, whose foot is suddenly stuck out and almost trips him. Sean sounds way worse than Pres, who he has been compared to.

Mary Ellen’s boss at Marnie’s calls and says they’re having a last-minute fashion show to benefit the World Drought Relief that Saturday. Mary Ellen says she will recruit the squad to participate. Olivia asks her mother, who says she doesn’t want Olivia to model: “Those cheerleaders – I’m not surprised. Their main purpose in life is to show off their bodies.” Olivia has been feeling some chest pains lately, and after telling her mom fine, she won’t do the show, she falls on her bed weak and dizzy.

The other three girls arrive at Marnie’s on Saturday morning to go through clothes, and they find Jessica there too. Jessica’s mother works at the store and suggested Jessica for the fashion show as well. ME’s boss says Jessica has arranged for Walt to do the music, and he’ll be coming soon for their run-through. The other 3 look at each other, wondering if Jessica is moving in on Walt. I highly doubt it. He’s Walt. Then Jessica says she also invited Pres and Patrick to help out, at Walt’s suggestion. This really gets ME’s hackles up. “If anyone was going to ask Pres or Patrick to help, it should have been her!” Patrick says he can take pictures of the show for publicity, and ME calls Olivia to ask her to write up a story about it for the school newspaper.

When Olivia arrives shortly before the show, she is upset to see Jessica there, and doubly upset to find out Walt is doing the music and never told her. Each girl struts on the runway, and when Jessica comes out, she trips. But she recovers quickly, doing a few twirls, and receives “thunderous applause”  as a result. As soon as the show is over, Olivia hurries out without speaking to anyone.

Later, Olivia is home working on her story. Walt has long had plans to visit his grandmother that night. Patrick calls and invites her to come over and work on her story while he develops his photos. All the other cheerleaders are going to be there, in addition to Jessica, Sean, and Nancy/Angie’s boyfriends. Olivia says okay, and Patrick tells her someone will pick her up. She is surprised to see Sean be the one to pull up in the driveway. Uh oh – “It would be fun to get to know somebody new – someone who wasn’t graduating, and someone who was incredibly good looking as well.” Sean immediately comes on to her, saying he knows she’s with Walt, but Walt’s leaving. He almost misses Patrick’s house and has to slam on his brakes: “Talking to you makes my mind wander. Maybe if you gave me a kiss, I’d feel better.” This guy! She tries to resist, but he leans forward to kiss her, and she kisses him back. Jeez, this is the second time she’s cheated on Walt. Sean wants to lean their seats back right there in Patrick’s driveway, but she insists they go inside. Olivia is relieved when Sean doesn’t say anything about their encounter. She does dance with him later.

Olivia tries to convince Walt that they shouldn’t go to Nancy’s cheerleader mixer, but he thinks that’s a crazy notion. Once they arrive, Walt makes his rounds while Olivia sulks on the couch with Angie and Chris. When Walt comes back around and asks her to dance, she says no – she doesn’t want to dance near Jessica and feel inferior. She suggests they go play Trivial Pursuit with some others in the den. Walt was starting to think Olivia was trying to spoil the party for him: “If you want to sit around playing some board game, fine. I’m here to dance, and if you won’t dance with me, I’ll find someone else.” No one can stop Walt from DANCING!!! How dare you, Olivia. Of course, Walt makes a beeline for Jessica and they start dancing.

Sean shows up to the party and suggests he and Nancy run away together. He tells her he’s extremely attracted to “older women.” He’s so terrible, I might like him. He tells Nancy he normally wouldn’t try to come between a girl and her boyfriend, but he’s had a crush on her all year and he thinks he’s in love. Nancy smiles and says sorry, not happening. Not that much later, she is heading for the den when she comes across Olivia and Sean by the stairwell. He is telling her exactly the same thing he just told Nancy – “I think I’m in love.” Nancy almost laughs out loud. Olivia is unsure and ends up walking away, and Nancy threatens to dump a plate of food on his head. “You can’t have a crush on every girl in school, Sean Dubrow.” Sean thinks actually, he does have a crush on every girl in school – well, almost every girl. “My problem, Sean thought, is no one appreciates a lover.” Then he spots Hope and asks her to dance.

Olivia doesn’t show up for the next practice, which pisses Coach Engborg off. Walt and Pres talk about who’s going to make the squad. When Pres says the girls don’t like Jessica, Walt feels the urge to jump to her defense. He feels guilty every time he even thinks about her. Tara overhears them saying she could make the squad on her looks alone, and it annoys her: “It burned her up that so many people assumed her red hair and great build were all she had going for her.” After hearing Pres and Walt saying that Hope was too quiet, Tara runs over and tells her that the guys were criticizing another girl for being too loud, and she would be sure to avoid that. Hope says thanks for the tip.

Vanessa sees Walt at the gas station and asks him about the rumors regarding Olivia missing the last practice. Walt is annoyed and tells her Olivia just had something else to do, and Vanessa tells him she saw Olivia riding in Sean’s car the other day. Walt suggests Vanessa have a zipper installed over her mouth. He had already known about Olivia riding with Sean, because she told him (guessing she left out the kissing part). He does worry that next year when he’s gone, Sean might appeal to Olivia if they’re both on the squad. Maybe he shouldn’t encourage Olivia too much to try out again, he thinks.

Pres’ dad says maybe Pres should put aside his Porsche and start driving an Oldsmobile sedan, which is a better car for someone attending Princeton and working at Tarenton Fabricators. Pres tries again to make his parents understand he plans to do the moving business full time with Patrick and is not going to Princeton. Pres says if they really want to get him a new car, there’s a secondhand truck he and Patrick could use for their business. He leaves in a huff and goes to the Pizza Palace, where he runs into Jessica and her brothers. Jessica is very interested in cars, and Pres offers to let her drive it to school the next morning.

Olivia leaves the next practice early, and Walt resumes helping Jessica. He keeps thinking about Olivia, though, and is distracted as Jessica does a move and almost falls. Nancy, Angie, and Mary Ellen are talking in the locker room about how Jessica seems to be making a play for both Walt and Pres when Jessica walks in and overhears them. She vehemently denies going after either guy and storms out. Later, Walt and Olivia are spending time together at his house watching old movies. Walt tells her he’s going to be in a theater program in another town during the summer, which upsets Olivia because it’s a couple hours away. That night she has nightmares about Walt and everyone else leaving her, and awakens with a pounding heartbeat.

Tara is shopping for a new leotard for tryouts when she runs into Hope. She tries to manipulate Hope into picking a boring color, but Hope sticks to her guns and holds onto a black and pink striped one. Then Hope tells her about Sean and how he’s been paying a lot of attention to her lately. Tara is tempted to encourage Hope to get serious with Sean, knowing he’ll probably have broken her heart by the time tryouts come around, but instead she decides to do the right thing and warn her that Sean is just going to chase after other girls whenever he can. Hope does not appreciate this advice and tells Tara she will make up her own mind about Sean. Tara is stunned: “In the future she’d remember that sincerity does not pay off.”

Hope had already figured out what Tara was trying to do when she warned her not to be too loud. Hope is determined to project her voice as best as she can during tryouts. Meanwhile, Betsey and Sally had gotten together to work on their routines and realized that Tara had shown them the same finishing move, so they work on something new.

Olivia has continued to feel an ache in her chest and has woken up twice more with a pounding heart. She decides to go for a walk and is working herself up about all her worries, which brings the ache in her chest back. Then she realizes her pulse is racing, and so she starts to make her way back home. She isn’t paying attention and almost gets run over by Patrick’s moving truck. She tells him she was afraid she was having an attack, and he races her to the hospital.

The doctor tells her there’s nothing wrong with her heart, the ache in her chest was likely a pulled muscle and some cartilage inflammation. They are still working on the mystery of her heart pounding so much, but the doc says her symptoms may have been psychosomatic. The doctor encourages her to still try out for the squad.

Tryouts begin, and Tara makes a point to flirt with Sean in front of Hope as a way to throw Hope off. But Hope informs her that her anger at Tara will only fuel her during tryouts. Olivia shows up right on time. The individual routines are done privately in front of the judges. When Olivia comes out, she tells the squad that they already told her she’s in.

Field Day has arrived, and the girls talk about their plans. Angie is going to State, and Nancy mailed off her acceptance to Brown. Vanessa is mad because her grades weren’t good enough for college, so her dad is sending her to an all-girls’ finishing school in Switzerland. The squad lines up to present pompons and megaphones to the new squad, as a way to pass the torch. The new squad is Sean, Peter, Jessica, Hope, Tara, and Olivia, who is the new captain.

Mary Ellen leaves the locker room and finds Pres and Patrick in the parking lot with their new truck, which Pres’ parents bought as a graduation present. Patrick and Mary Ellen go off to the side, and she tells him she’s still going to try for New York. Patrick says maybe she’ll go and realize he and Tarenton are her dream after all. She says maybe. They say goodbye, and Patrick and Pres drive off. “Maybe Patrick’s faith would win out after all, and a year from now she’d be answering the same question from him in a different way. But deep down inside, she had a feeling that a chapter of her life had ended once and for all.”

Good! Patrick deserves better! On to the next.

Other notes and quotes

  • Patrick says Pres can call himself a “relocation engineer” if it will make his father more accepting of him doing the moving business full time.
  • Mary Ellen comes up with a cheer for Nancy’s party invitation – “Chica chica boo, chica chica crash, You’re invited to Nancy Goldstein’s for a cheerleader’s bash!”  Yikes.
  • I noted quite a few inconsistencies in this book – besides saying Nancy was considering Brown even though in the last book it was State, in only a matter of pages Sean’s car is described as a red Fiero and then a black Mazda. Another portion starts off saying Peter is reading Olivia’s article, then it changes to “Patrick finished reading.”
  • There are some small side stories about a girl trying out named Samantha who comes off as snobby even though she’s really mostly shy, and who Angie finds crying in the locker room after Nancy doesn’t invite her to the cheerleading mixer. Nancy later calls and invites her. Also, a guy trying out named Rob invites Samantha to go hiking, and then he sprains his ankle. But it heals in time for him to try out, so… I’m not sure what the point of any of that was. And neither one makes the squad.

Sign of the Times

  1. So many leotards and leg warmers. Soooo glad leotards went out of style.
    Patrick has 3 cameras around his neck to photograph the fashion show. Is that really necessary?
  2. Olivia wears stirrup pants to the gathering after the fashion show.
  3. Sean drives a red Pontiac Fiero (which was only manufactured from 1984-1988).
  4. Walt gets some Fred Astaire videocassettes for he and Olivia to watch at his house.

Book Deets
Author: Patricia Aks and Lisa Norby
Year: 1986
Pages: 219

Grade: B

Next time on Cheerleaders… Read Cheerleaders #21, PULLING TOGETHER.

Teen Mom Alert? (#8 – Forgetting)


Analyzing the cover: This is clearly Olivia, sitting among her pompons and megaphone, contemplating the chance that she’s knocked up while Walt watches on with vague concern.

The students vs. faculty basketball game is coming up, so Coach Engborg will soon be defecting to lead the teacher contingent of cheerleaders while Mary Ellen will lead the student cheerleaders for the game. How teachers who don’t normally play basketball or do cheers are supposed to be better than the students who do these things regularly is beyond me.

Meanwhile Olivia has been acting super weird. Walt says she has been really tired lately. Uh oh. At practice, she feels nauseous and thinks maybe she had the flu, or maybe it’s something else. Did Olivia get pregnant from making out with that loser in the last book, or what? She’s a week late for her period. She knows she was drunk when she and Boomer made out, and now she’s starting to worry that they may have done more and she just can’t remember because she got blackout drunk. That’s pretty horrifying.

Olivia thinks if anyone would know whether or not her and Boomer did more than kiss, it would be the terrible Vanessa Barlow, who was the first to stumble in on them. Just recently Vanessa had come up to Olivia and said, “I would have never guessed you were so experienced, and with someone you hardly knew…” Olivia wonders what she would do if “it” turned out to be true (that she might be pregnant thanks to date rape is not spelled out in so many words.)

In an effort to prove to her boyfriend Josh that she’s not spoiled, Nancy is getting up at 5 a.m. to join him on his newspaper delivery route. Nancy’s parents are upset. “I don’t know what we did wrong,” her father complained. “We give you all the advantages, and you insist on getting up at dawn to do hard labor.” Why does Josh think she’s spoiled again? At least she’ll work out her bicep with all that hard labor of throwing newspapers in people’s driveways.

Angie has been getting tutored by the “class brain” Arne Peterson, who Angie never looked at in a romantic way until her mom suggested she date him. Now she keeps getting distracted by his big hands. Hmm. And she doesn’t understand what he’s talking about most of the time, but she enjoys listening to his velvety voice. She’s so bored that she takes up his invitation to come over and look at the stars with his telescope. They stop for pizza together too, where they are harassed by Vanessa, who happens to be there with Mr. Lutz, a student teacher. Safe to say him being out in public with a student, especially the superintendent’s daughter, seems like a monumentally stupid thing to do.

Pres sees a letter from Princeton in the pile of mail and hides it in his jacket. He didn’t even attempt to look good in his application, so he is certain it’s a rejection. He has a line of relatives who attended Princeton before him, but he left the “Family Who Are Alumni” part blank on the application because he doesn’t want to get in on the “Tilford” name. I’m pretty sure if you put Pres Tilford anywhere on the application, the school knows you’re a Tilford. Anyway, he throws the letter in the backseat of his car without opening it. I’m sure that’s not going to come up later in the book or anything.

The Eismar twins are having a party. Pres goes with Kerry, who is still dating him despite the fact that he was a complete and total asshat in the last book. Patrick is there too, “nibbling on the ear” of new girl Mindy Norris. Mary Ellen goes stone-faced when she sees them, and as she tries to pass by unnoticed, Patrick calls out her name. Patrick has no chill. “She thinks my garbage truck is cute!” (If this was set in Texas it would be ‘she thinks my tractor’s sexy’). Mary Ellen sulks for the rest of her time at the party and then makes her escape.

“I think Patrick is disgusting,” Kerry (the girl who is still with Pres even though he took Vanessa to Lookout Point and made out with her) declares. Of course Pres disagrees, and I have to agree with him in this case. “He’s been chasing after Mary Ellen for months and she can’t make up her mind. If he found another girl, good for him!” Then Kerry starts talking about how one thing Patrick has going for him is that he knows what he wants to do in life. Since Pres does not, he changes the subject with a makeout sesh.

Someone painted the statue of Hubert Tarenton, the town’s founder, hot pink in honor of the faculty/student game. Superintendent Barlow vows to find the culprit and suspend him/her, while Patrick, Pres, and Walt all claim innocence. While that scintillating mystery unfolds, rumors are starting to make their way to the cheerleaders about Olivia’s unexplained illness. Angie, Mary Ellen, and Nancy gossip about the possibility that Olivia could be pregnant with Walt’s baby.

Patrick offers Mary Ellen a ride home, and sure enough they’re making out as soon as possible. He tried to convince himself he likes Mindy, but Mary Ellen is his disease and the only cure is more Mary Ellen. They end up fighting as per usual, and Mary Ellen storms off. “There goes one crazy girl. When will I ever learn?” Patrick asks himself. I wonder the same thing, you big dummy. Later he and Mindy go on another date, and Mindy accuses him of thinking about another girl. He tries to deny it, but she guesses that it’s Vanessa. Since he just wants to be rid of her, he says sure, it was Vanessa, are you happy? Mindy thus begins her revenge plan on the girl who stole Patrick away.

Nancy is running herself ragged trying to keep up with school, cheerleading, and her quest to prove herself unspoiled by helping Josh on his paper route. One morning she breaks down in tears and tells him she can’t handle it anymore. He didn’t even know that she was trying to show him she’s not spoiled, and can’t even remember telling her he thought that. His van breaks down in mid-delivery, and Pres drives by, stopping to help. Nancy catches a ride to school with Pres afterward, and he can’t stop checking her out. “I am a connoisseur of women,” he tells her. Barf. He imagines himself touching her knee, then thinks, “Kerry can’t expect me to be totally faithful. I’m only human.” Before he can make a move, Nancy spots his Princeton envelope in the backseat. She opens it and it’s not a rejection, but a letter saying his application was incomplete and he still has to fill out his essay on “Why I Want to Attend Princeton.” I might be wrong but I would think an Ivy League school wouldn’t waste its time with someone who doesn’t complete the application process correctly on his own. Oh God, I keep reading and Pres expresses this very thought. “Obviously anyone who’s too dumb to send in the essay in the first place doesn’t belong at Princeton.” I hate myself for thinking like Pres.

The cheerleaders are trying to come up with new cheers that rhyme the teachers’ names in an insulting way for the faculty/student basketball game. All they have is Mr. Lutz the Klutz. Unfortunately Lutz isn’t actually a klutz, Walt says, and Mr. Gaetano is also pretty good for an old guy. “He’s 30,” Angie put in. “That’s what I said,” Walt replied. I am 30 now. I’m so freaking old. Sigh. Olivia wants to practice a routine that involves her flipping, but Mary Ellen is hesitant because she is secretly wondering if Olivia is pregnant and it would be too dangerous. Walt later asks Angie why everyone is acting so weird, and she tells him about the pregnancy rumor. Walt tells her it couldn’t be true because he and Olivia have not yet been horizontal with each other. Then Walt remembers that Olivia went out with Boomer a second time after he caught them at the party. He has no idea if she actually slept with the guy. He wants Olivia to confide in him, but she hurries home and takes her phone off the hook so he can’t reach her.

Olivia has been having trouble getting in touch with Vanessa to find out if she saw Olivia and Boomer doing anything more than kissing. She has still been getting sick in the mornings. She has to stalk Vanessa outside a movie theater in order to corner her and ask about what happened. That horrible wench just plays coy and says Olivia will have to figure it out herself. I know violence is not the answer, but someone needs to punch her in the face before graduation or I am going to go crazy.

Kerry and Pres fight because he didn’t tell her about the Princeton letter, and Nancy let the cat out of the bag. Pres writes an essay for Princeton that basically says how miserable he’d be if he attended there, and his father finds it and rages. He wants Pres to write a suitable essay and let him read it before it gets sent. Later Pres tells his dad he didn’t write an essay and is withdrawing his application. His father surprisingly takes the news okay.

Nancy has compassion on Olivia and gets her to confide all of her worries about being pregnant. Nancy convinces her to confront Boomer and ask what happened between them. Olivia goes to some studio where he works. He doesn’t even remember her name and doesn’t seem disturbed to see her, despite the fact that the last time he saw her, he was trying to force himself on her and she hit him upside the head with her metal thermos. She has to wait for him to finish filming a commercial to talk to him, and she is feeling faint, so she takes her medication (related to her childhood heart condition). Then she passes out in the bathroom.

When Olivia doesn’t show up to practice, everyone starts worrying about her. Nancy was the only one who knew she was going to see Boomer, so they all rush to the studio to see if she’s there. Boomer is long gone, but they still look around for her. Meanwhile she has been locked in the bathroom because no one knew she was in there when they all left. She stuffs one of her leg warmers in the crack under the door in hopes it will signal to someone that she’s in there, and Walt comes around the corner and sees it. She calls out his name, and they free her.

At the doctor, Olivia is told that her new medication is what had been causing her to be so sick all the time. She finally tells Walt what she was afraid had happened, and Walt assures her that nothing could have happened at the party, because he walked in only a few minutes after Vanessa did, and if they had slept together, Vanessa would have told the whole school. Not that Vanessa can’t be counted on to lie as well.

As it so happens, Vanessa has started spreading the rumor that Olivia is pregnant and hopes Olivia will be kicked off the squad and she can replace her. But Olivia is better than ever after getting off her troublesome medication, and Vanessa fumes as she watches her cheering at the faculty/student game. She’s also mad because it turns out she had been pursuing Mr. Lutz, who only took her out to tell her she needed to back off. As Vanessa starts to approach Coach Engborg to tell her about Olivia, Mindy, Patrick’s new ex who thinks Patrick loves Vanessa, approaches her. Mindy pulls out a can of hot pink spray paint, which was evidently used to deface the Tarenton statue. “You had no right to go into my locker!” Vanessa exclaims, in a Perry Mason-like confession. Her father witnesses the whole thing, and the Vanessa/Mindy exchange quickly overshadows the Olivia-is-pregnant rumor.

Angie’s new man Arne reveals that he helped Mindy figure out how to get into Vanessa’s locker and that he and Mindy both separately figured out Vanessa defaced the statue in convoluted and complicated ways that I do not care to recount. With this story he is immediately welcomed into their circle of friends.

Other notes and quotes:

  • Patrick thinks Mary Ellen looks super sexy in her aviator jacket and white scarf. No, she’s not going to flight school.
  • Olivia’s mom makes “healthy meatloaf” – ground meat and wheat germ glued together with yogurt sauce.
  • Nancy wears White Shoulders perfume, which Pres can identify immediately by smell. Weirdo.
  • It is mentioned multiple times that Arne drives a Japanese car, as if this is some sort of weird quirk. Was it a Toyota or a Honda, I wonder? So unique.
  • Patrick/Mindy and Vanessa all go see a horror movie, “Valentine’s Day Victim.” I wish that was a real movie. God I love 80s horror movies.

Sign of the Times

  1. Nancy’s radio alarm plays Bruce Springsteen.
  2. Angie’s brother Andrew asks if there’s anything good on TV, and she suggests The A-Team.
  3. Pres types up his admission essay on an electric typewriter.
  4. As mentioned in the main recap, Olivia is saved by her LEG WARMER.

Book Deets
Author: Lisa Norby
Year: 1985
Pages: 153

Grade: B

Next time on Cheerleaders… How do the girls react to being called nasty names? Read Cheerleaders #9, PLAYING GAMES.

Jewelry, Pizza, and Back Surgery (#13 – Hurting)

FullSizeRender (6)

Analyzing the cover: Must be Nancy trying to explain or confront an angry Olivia about how she and Walt ended up getting picked up together at the makeout place. Olivia ain’t having it.

Olivia is insecure about Walt going to a pool party while she has to go to a wedding with her parents. Angie tries to comfort her during a game they are cheering at, while admiring Walt doing stupid tricks in a mascot uniform.

Pres teases Angie about her being too heavy to lift, for the 2nd book in the row. Someone please punch him in the face. Angie normally takes jokes like this in stride, but this time it hurts her feelings. It doesn’t help when she has to ride to the pool party with her brother Andrew and his girlfriend Kerry, making her feel like extra baggage.

Angie notices Pres trying to impress a “non-student” at the party, noting that she will likely become one of Pres’ older lady conquests. Uhhhh okay. Pres offers the girl a drink and gets her name – Claudia Randall. She is actually only 18. He takes her willingness to converse with him as an opportunity to talk about himself for a long time.

Meanwhile, Patrick is trying to get Mary Ellen’s attention and bets her that he can do a somersault off the high diving board. If he can’t do it, he’ll leave her alone for a week, and if he can, she has to go on a date with him within the next week. These two are a worse couple than Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber. He completes the dive successfully.

Nancy and her boyfriend Ben start fighting over stupid crap, and she pushes him in the pool, then walks away. Fun times. Nancy runs into Walt who has been moping around because Olivia isn’t there. He agrees to take her home, and as they’re getting ready to leave, Nancy notices Villainous Vanessa watching them. Because she’s ridiculous, Nancy decides to give Vanessa something to talk about and hugs Walt a little too friendly, then makes a big show of saying, “Let’s get out of this place, just the two of us.” She may be wanting to spite Ben, but I’m not sure why she’s stupid enough to think it wouldn’t get back to Olivia too.

Walt and Nancy decide to get a pizza, but the pizza place closes right after they pay their bill, so Walt suggests they just go park at the Overlook to eat the pizza. While they’re there talking and eating, police come by and make them get out of the car. There’s been a burglary and the officer says they need them to come down to the station and give statements. The police don’t explain what connection they have between Walt and the burglary, but they say if the Pizza Palace manager confirms his story that he was there at closing time, they will be free to go home. I’m pretty sure unless they’re being arrested, they’re free to go home anyway. Walt and Nancy need to learn their rights. At the station they listen in to the Keystone Cops discuss the likelihood that Walt is the one who drove to the village and broke into a jewelry store, stealing a $700 ring. Finally, one of the cops gets tired of the conversation and says “You guys have been watching too much TV.” He tells them they’re free to go, and they’re so relieved that their parents won’t ever find out.

That is until they step outside the police station and somehow the TV news media is there with cameras. Walt’s parents host a local talk show, so apparently his being brought in for questioning is big time news. “How does it feel to be the son of an ideal TV couple and find yourself in this fix?” is a question a reporter actually asks him. Nancy babbles about what really happened, then Walt tells her to shut up and drags her to the car.

Ben sees the news coverage and calls Nancy, angry at first but then laughs at how pathetic she looked claiming their innocence. Nancy angrily hangs up on him. Olivia is furious, which makes Walt mad for her not trusting him. Vanessa starts spreading the word that Walt and Nancy were getting cozy before they left the party, and plans to tell her father, the superintendent, that he should do something about the cheerleaders who are giving their school such a bad name in the media. Nancy was kind of asking for it.

Everyone keeps their cool at practice, even when Mary Ellen makes the comment to Angie that “For someone who is always pigging out on chocolate and hates sports, you sure have a lot of energy.” Ben comes by and demands to speak to Nancy, then Walt gets all up in his face and tells him to leave her alone. Ben calls him a “pipsqueak.” Everyone is upset. Olivia blames Angie for assuring her that nothing bad would happen if she left Walt alone for a weekend, because she was DEAD WRONG. Poor Angie is the squad doormat.

Pres’ boring storyline with Claudia continues. She says she’s attending a local nursing school. She schmoozes his mother pretty easily. They are definitely having sexual relations. And she still has an air of mystery around her. Yawn.

Patrick tries to get Mary Ellen to commit to the date he won in their bet at the pool, and she notices his wrist is swollen and discolored. He thinks he hurt it while showing off at the pool party, and she insists that instead of going on a date that night, he should go to the hospital. He is frustrated with her everlasting ambivalence toward him, but at this point I am done feeling sorry for him. There are other fish in the sea Patrick!!! He goes to the emergency room and while waiting, he spots Claudia Randall, Pres’ new lady friend. While most likely violating medical privacy laws, Patrick’s doctor tells him that Claudia was a champion horsewoman who got thrown off her horse and seriously hurt her back to the point where she might become paralyzed soon. Patrick eavesdrops on Claudia and her doctor discussing an operation she doesn’t want to have. “The bone fragment is lodged near the spine,” the doctor says. “If you don’t have it removed, it’s likely to shift position sooner or later. You could be paralyzed for life.” After they’re gone, Patrick gets his wrist bandaged.

Mary Ellen and Patrick go on a date to the Pizza Palace and they see Pres and Claudia eating as well. Patrick tells Mary Ellen all about Claudia’s operation dilemma, and they start gossiping like old ladies. ME wants to tell Pres the truth, but Patrick says not to get involved. “What if Pres is the only person in the world who can talk her into having the operation?” ME asks. A guy she’s known one week? I’m so sure.

Ben is also at the Pizza Palace where he runs into Vanessa, who seductively suggests that he take advantage of her willingness to make Nancy jealous. He thanks her for the idea and leaves, which pisses Vanessa off. Instead, he calls Olivia. Ooh, good idea. I would want to do the same thing. Kind of like how Shania Twain ended up marrying her husband’s (alleged) mistress’ husband. Ben asks Olivia if she wants to get even with Walt and Nancy, and she agrees. They go back to the Pizza Palace and order a pizza, then Ben basically announces to the whole restaurant that they’re going to take it to the Overlook. Ben has no chill. They go to the Overlook and almost kiss, but can’t go through with it because they still love Walt and Nancy.

Vanessa hilariously wastes about 10 minutes before she calls Walt to tell him what she heard about Olivia and Ben. Even though she’s telling the truth, Walt really shouldn’t believe her due to her track record. But he does anyway and is pissed.

Patrick and Mary Ellen rope Angie into the Claudia drama. They want Angie to be the one to tell Pres about Claudia’s operation. None of them have ever spoken to Claudia in their lives, and Patrick even hearing/being told what’s going on is a huge invasion of privacy, but they are all set on saving the day. ME guilt trips Angie the Doormat – “If you don’t help us, Claudia may never get that operation. She could spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.” WHYYYYY do any of them care or even think it’s their place to make someone they’ve never met have an operation? This is officially the dumbest plot I’ve read in Cheerleaders so far. Of course Angie gives in. If something happens to Claudia before she can tell Pres, she’ll never forgive herself!!! Sigh.

Angie runs to Pres and tells him the whole story. Pres can’t believe it. He thinks Mary Ellen made it up because she’s jealous that he’s found someone he likes “a hundred times more” than her. Oh please, get over yourself Pres. If ME was going to sabotage your relationship she’d pretend your girlfriend hurt her back and needs a paralysis-preventing surgery? That’s brilliant. He also calls Angie gullible, which makes her mad. Everyone is so mean to poor Angie. But later Claudia admits the truth to Pres and says she lied because she didn’t want his pity. He says he loves her and tries to guilt trip her about not being brave enough to get the operation. She rightly tells him he has no clue what kind of position she’s in.

Angie is tired of being called chubby and gullible, so she goes home and puts on a sexy outfit, does her hair differently and heads out to a random place called Garry’s, where a guy named Lester Lightning offers to buy her a drink. Seriously. She decides she doesn’t like him, and he tries to change her mind by offering a ring out of his pocket. What do you know, it’s the ring that was stolen from the jewelry store! What a huge freaking coincidence. Angie tells him someone named Vanessa Barlow might be interested in the ring, then tries to get away sneakily, but her car won’t start. So as Lester starts to come after her, she runs out to the road and waves her arms. Miracle of miracles, Pres just happens to be driving by and stops for her. They drive to Walt’s house, where they come upon Walt and Olivia making up. They tell him what happened, and then they all call the police. It’s a good thing everyone was treating Angie like crap or she might have never found the jewelry thief!

After the next game, news reporters are waiting outside the school again. This time they are looking for Superintendent Barlow – apparently Vanessa has been arrested for possession of stolen property. “Your daughter says she agreed to buy the goods only because she was conducting an independent investigation on your behalf,” the news reporter tells the superintendent. “I’ll wring her neck!” he proclaims. “I mean… I won’t really.” This was a very random and out-of-place turn of events. Apparently Lester Lightning looked Vanessa up as a potential buyer of the ring thanks to Angie’s suggestion. Everyone compliments Angie on accidentally screwing Vanessa over and she feels good about herself again.

At the end of the book, Claudia comes to see Pres and tells him she’s going to California to have the operation. Of course she says Pres is the one who changed her mind. I mean, they are in love after 2 whole weeks of dating, so of course he did.

I have to say, this book was pretty terrible.

Interesting notes and quotes:

  • Nancy wears a hot pink bikini and three gold chains to the pool party. So fetch.
  • Nancy and Ben also make up and Mary Ellen times their makeup kiss as lasting a minute and a half.

Book Deets
Author: Lisa Norby
Year: 1986
Pages: 152

Grade: F

Next time on Cheerleaders… Will New York City steal Mary Ellen’s heart from Patrick? Read Cheerleaders #14 LIVING IT UP.

2 girls, 1 loser (#4 – Feuding)

FullSizeRender (2)

Analyzing the cover: This is pretty easy – Nancy and Olivia being idiots over some doofus neither one of them actually likes.

A basketball player named Jimmy has come off the bench during a Tarenton basketball game and taken the court by storm, impressing Nancy and Olivia. (I had to check and make sure this wasn’t the same Jimmy that dated Nancy’s friend Susan in Book #1. Different last names). Turns out Jimmy had asked Olivia to the school dance before he turned into a basketball hero. Last we saw Olivia she was dating some guy named Michael. It didn’t last, what a shocker.

ME gets so offended when Walt tells her everyone knows she and Patrick lust after each other. Maybe if she didn’t kiss him every time she saw him, no one would know. “Patrick is a jerk!” she responds. Screw you, Melon. Patrick is perfect.

Turns out Jimmy went out on a date with Nancy (whose boyfriend Alex went back to England, so I guess that means they broke up? Out of sight out of mind? Who knows) the SAME DAY he asked Olivia to the dance. And all this before he became a star. This guy is GOOD.

Cartoon Villain Vanessa finds out from her dumb sidekick Cindy that Angie’s hot older cousin is a new teacher at Tarenton. Vanessa is infuriated that her father, the superintendent, didn’t keep her apprised of the latest faculty news. I am pretty sure I could not care less about what was happening with the teachers when I was in high school.

For some reason Vanessa decides to plant a seed in the new teacher’s mind that Walt has been talking crap about him. Not sure why Walt is her random target this week. There’s no understanding Vanessa’s demented mind. I really thought this story would be about Vanessa falsely accusing the teacher of assault, so I guess good job in going a different stupid direction.

Pres overheard his parents discussing getting separated/divorced. Okay I feel sorry for him now. His mom gets drunk in the afternoon and walks in on him and his girlfriend Kerry making out, then rudely proclaims that “All Tilford men are liars.” I mean, she’s probably right. She also calls Kerry a floozy. Pres is embarrassed and Kerry is upset.

Perfect Patrick gives Mary Ellen a ride home and they stop to get a soda. She actually agrees to ride in his garbage truck because she is “that desperate.” This shrew. Then he confronts her about her dumb comment calling him a jerk. ME immediately suspects that Olivia snitched to him. “Now that Michael is so involved with running, maybe she wants to see the rest of us suffer too.” I think Melon does a great job of making herself suffer ALL ON HER OWN. In actuality it was the squad’s bus driver who had been sitting nearby when ME made the comment. The bus driver didn’t know ME’s name but told Patrick a “stuck-up blonde” said it. So of course Patrick knew immediately who it was. ME then explains that she called him a jerk because he makes her so confused and he’s always pressuring her to be serious with him, but she’s not ready. Maybe they can hang out casually, “low-profile” (because she is ashamed of him). Patrick agrees, and then ME is immediately upset that he didn’t push for something more serious. I think she might have multiple personalities. They kiss when he drops her off. I call Patrick perfect but his main flaw is his willingness to be treated like garbage by this girl.

Olivia goes parking with Jimmy even though she’s mad that he went out with Nancy too. She asks him what’s going on and he insists he and Nancy are just “pals,” then attacks, er, kisses her. Surrrrre, I believe that story. Olivia is turned off and pushes him away. Jimmy gives her a guilt trip about sending him mixed signals (this guy is a true winner) and asks her to go to a movie the next night. So then Olivia starts worrying about if he will expect her to go parking with him again and she doesn’t want to be called an icicle, etc.etc. Sad. On their next date, Olivia refers to Nancy indirectly and Jimmy picks up on it. “Nancy’s very sexy, uninhibited if you know what I mean.” So now he’s trying to pressure her into doing stuff with him that he’s implying Nancy would do. But I thought they were just pals! During the movie, Jimmy insists they sit in the back and rests his hand on Olivia’s knee, then squeezes it. Olivia is super uncomfortable. Vanessa and Cindy are at the movies too, and afterwards Vanessa asks Jimmy for a ride home. Now Olivia is upset. Make up your mind girl! Olivia uses the extra girls in the car as an excuse to be dropped off first. Vanessa actually saved the day this time.

Except, Vanessa then spreads the word at school the next day about Olivia and Jimmy, and now Nancy is pissed. At cheerleading practice that day, Olivia complains that their cheers are too violent. “What should we say? Hug the Grizzlies, aren’t they cute?” Mary Ellen snipes. Olivia wishes cheers had more positive messages. “Like loyalty?” Nancy asks. Got her.

Walt is still having trouble in Angie’s cousin’s class. You might think someone who’s a teacher wouldn’t hold a grudge about a rumor that a student said something bad about him. But not Angie’s cousin. He is apparently still mentally 14. In response, Walt isn’t doing his assigned work. That’s smart. Walt’s choices are 1)  do the work but appear to be a wimp backing off from his feud with Mr. Gaetano, or 2) fail the class. Somehow to Walt this will be a “disaster” either way. From where I’m sitting it’s an obvious decision. But I’m not a 17-year-old idiot. Walt and Pres start to bicker at practice, then Walt tells Angie what a loser her cousin is, while Nancy jumps in for some reason and attacks Walt too. So everyone on the squad hates each other, basically.

Pres gives ME a ride home and she accuses him of snitching to Patrick about her “jerk” comment. She is pretty mean to people who bother to give her rides home. Then someone FINALLY tells Mary Ellen how it is – “Don’t blame me for your problems with Patrick, Mary Ellen Kirkwood. You treat that guy like a yo-yo, reeling him in whenever it suits your purposes.” Preach, Pres. I’m starting to like him more.

Nancy goes skiing with Jimmy, who comments on her figure in her ski pants. Now Nancy is uncomfortable. These girls are feuding over a douche bag that they don’t even like. Jimmy starts groping her in public and takes a long time to stop after she tells him to knock it off. But like Olivia, Nancy thinks maybe something is wrong with her and not him, and lets him kiss her later. No no no no.

Walt got detention for not doing his work in Gaetano’s class. He is supposed to have detention every day until he writes ONE paragraph in his journal. And when he shows up late to practice, he’s wearing a shirt that says FREE WALT MANNERS. I kind of hate this dude. Nancy and Angie are not amused.

ME runs into Patrick, who tells her “I wouldn’t bother you, you know, if I didn’t know that you really like me in spite of how hard you try to pretend otherwise.” This is the equivalent of “Your mouth saying no but your body saying yes” and is slightly rapey-sounding, but the problem is he’s EXACTLY CORRECT. Mary Ellen is the type of character that feeds into the message that guys shouldn’t take no for an answer because the girl really wants it underneath her protests. Mary Ellen definitely, definitely wants it. But in real life that’s not a good philosophy. So Patrick kisses her and she lets him, until she pulls back and sees his shirt reading Henley Trash. I can’t with ME’s snobbery much longer. She’s the worst. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get out of your small town and go pursue your dreams in NYC. But don’t lead a guy on and look down on him because of what he does, and use rich guys for their status and fancy cars. So after ME pisses Patrick off, he goes and asks Vanessa to the dance. Even though Vanessa has ridiculed his line of work in the past, she says yes, surely for some ulterior motive of her own.

Angie tries to talk her teacher cousin into cutting Walt some slack, but he won’t budge. It turns out Angie is a secret jogger. This is for some reason something she thinks would shock the squad if they know. What a rebel Angie is. While running, she spots Kerry at the park. Kerry dumped Angie’s brother for Pres, but Angie is nice to her. Kerry says ever since Pres’ mom walked in on them and made a scene, he’s been avoiding her. Angie realizes Pres might have real problems at home that make everyone else’s problems look like fabricated high school BS. Imagine that. Pres begs Kerry to stick with him, and though she considers that they might be better off apart, she agrees to go to the dance with him.

Walt is trying to spy on Pres, Nancy, and Angie and accidentally rear-ends Mr. Gaetano’s car. They bring his car to the shop and actually get along okay. Conveniently Vanessa comes by later to get her car detailed or something and finds out what happened. She was hoping that Walt would eventually get kicked off the squad, and lacking any other competent males in school, she could get the empty spot. Vanessa plants it in Walt’s mind that Mr. Gaetano is going around saying Walt hit him on purpose. When will these morons learn not to trust this wench? Later, Vanessa’s traitorous sidekick Cindy fills Walt in on what really happened, and he asks her to the dance. He finally decides to do his stupid schoolwork after this ridiculous feud has gone on for way too long.

Mary Ellen realizes that her biggest fear with Patrick is if she gives in to him, she will fall so hard for him that she’ll give up all her dreams to stay in Tarenton with him forever. I guess I could see that. But then she realizes that she shouldn’t “turn her back on love” for fear of what could happen down the road, so she calls Patrick and asks him to the dance. Whoops. He’s already going with Vanessa. Mary Ellen is furious and beats up her pillow. She’s scary.

Jimmy congratulates himself on the fact that both Olivia and Nancy think he’s going to the dance with them. He decides Nancy is more likely to give it up with his parents out of town. He invites her over and says she should tell her parents she’s staying at a friend’s house. Nancy is not going for it. She asks what would happen. “You know what I’d like, but it’s up to you. It’s a big house.” he says. “It couldn’t be big enough to suit me,” Nancy snaps. Booooooooom. That’s what she said. After striking out with Nancy, Jimmy calls up Olivia, who agrees to come over, her self-esteem in a dumpster fire. She goes to his house, accepts some wine, but when he starts to kiss her she finally wakes up and realizes she doesn’t want this. “All you want is a body. You’re really a creep.” At the next basketball game, it turns out Jimmy was a one-game wonder. He’s getting shut out all over the place.

Nancy somehow makes Jimmy think she’s still going to the dance with him, then shows up with Olivia and has him pay for both of their tickets. Somehow it’s punishment to make him take turns dancing with both of them (why are they letting him touch them?) Then they both ditch him for other guys. Cindy tells the group that Vanessa had planned for the girls to make a scene over Jimmy and then Vanessa could swoop in and steal him. Vanessa deserts Patrick as soon as they get to the dance, but Jimmy has had enough and leaves. Patrick sees Mary Ellen arriving and they slow dance in the hallway, but of course, she still won’t commit to him.

Other interesting notes and quotes:

  • Pres says his mom has been spending a lot of time with a “do not disturb” sign on her door. Like, a hotel door knob hanger? Or is it like a Keep Out sign a child would put up to keep their siblings out of their room? I need one of those.
  • Nancy’s friend Susan from the first book is mentioned for the first time in ages. All of a sudden she is referred to as “Sue,” and Nancy abandons her almost immediately.
  • Jimmy’s conscience “was the only muscle that he never exercised.” Gross.
  • When she gets ready to go to Jimmy’s, Olivia puts on a “shrimp-colored camisole.” That is an unappetizing description of lingerie if I ever heard one.

Sign of the Times

  1. Nancy lies on her bed watching a rock video on MTV. MTV was so hot back then. And music videos.
  2. Nancy describes Jimmy as “preppy.”
  3. Walt has “perfected his Michael Jackson imitation.”
  4. Olivia lusts over a jacket that has shoulder pads. How were shoulder pads ever actually a thing?

Book Deets:
Author: Lisa Norby
Year: 1985
Pages: 168

Grade: D

Next time on Cheerleaders… If Nancy thinks Jimmy was trouble, wait until she meets Ben! Read Cheerleaders #5, ALL THE WAY.