The Moral of the Story: Sweet Valley High needs to start doing psych evals on potential cheerleaders.
The Big Deal: Big basketball tournament
In the prologue, the SVH cheerleading squad is tied up in somebody’s basement, which is filling with water while “Free Bird” plays on a radio upstairs. Oh boy. I can’t wait to see how this happened…
One day, Liz is called to the principal’s office after school. Mr. Cooper introduces her to Diane and Brad, a writer and photographer from Scoop magazine. They’re in Sweet Valley because they’re going to write an article about “The Girls of Seventy-Six.” The “Girls” are the SVH cheerleading squad of 1976, who did nothing more extraordinary than win the state competition that year. Diane happened to be on that squad, but I still can’t imagine why a national magazine would care about it. Anyway, the article is a “where are they now?” kind of thing, and Mr. Cooper has offered Liz up as a research assistant. In exchange, she’ll get a credit in the magazine.
Liz leaves for the library to start her research right away. Brad follows her and obnoxiously starts flirting and asking her where da party at. He’s confused and thinks Liz is the cheerleader who was just showing off for him on the football field. Just so you’re aware, Brad is the best looking guy we’ve ever seen. Liz gets rid of him. In the library, she tells Ms. Swanson, the new shy library assistant, all about the article. We can assume Ms. Swanson mysteriously has something to do with the Girls of Seventy-Six because she wears hippie clothes, says things like “far out,” listens to classic rock and has a bad reaction to Liz’s talk about the article.
Jessica and her cheerleaders are all upset because the school board just made a rule that all school activities must now have a faculty adviser. Finally! They can’t think of anyone who would still let them do sexy moves and wear skimpy outfits and this pains them. Liz suggests Ms. Swanson. Jessica thinks that’s a great idea because she figures she’ll be too shy to tell the cheerleaders what to do. At her very first practice, Ms. Swanson starts to get weird when she confuses the cheerleaders with the Girls of Seventy-Six. Meanwhile, Liz finds out there was another girl on the ’76 squad who dropped out because she had some kind of weird disease. Of course, nobody remembers her name, but I’ll bet you anything it’s Nancy Swanson. Anyway, all this research is taking up too much of Liz’s time and Todd gets pissy like he always does and they have a big fight.
Amy and Jade don’t show up for cheerleading practice on Friday, but Nancy tells the rest of the squad that she sent them up the coast to pick up the new uniforms. Later that night, Nancy sits in her beanbag chair listening to her Doobie Brothers records loud enough to drown out the noises coming from her basement. She remembers being seventeen and suddenly having this unnamed mysterious disease that makes her twitch and stuff. The other girls kicked her off the cheerleading squad and one of them Loretta, stole her boyfriend, George. So I guess it all traumatized her so bad that she wants to punish the current cheerleaders. Whatever. I mean, that’s pretty shitty, but don’t be a crazed maniac because of it. The next day, she kidnaps Heather and throws her in the basement with Amy and Jade. Amy’s and Heather’s mothers both call Jessica to find out if she knows where their daughters might be, but Jessica is too wrapped up in her dates with Brad to concern herself with such things.
Liz accompanies Diane and Brad to Gina Bari’s house. Gina’s sister is Loretta, the captain of the ’76 squad. She tells our gang that Loretta died shortly after graduation, but that she was never the same after “the accident.” Apparently, Loretta and George were driving around when George grabbed the wheel and steered the car off a bridge. George died instantly, and later there was some mysterious ugly girl whose name nobody can remember on Loretta’s front lawn screaming at Loretta for killing her boyfriend. The September after she took her squad to nationals, Loretta got drunk and drowned in the quarry. The story gives Liz flashbacks to the accident that killed Sam. She’s all sad and stuff and decides to stop being mad at Todd because she needs him. Todd hangs up on her when she calls. Ha! But damn, they make up the next day.
On Sunday, Annie and Jessica meet at the mall and realize all the other cheerleaders are missing except Lila. Then Jessica goes home and gets pissed that Lila isn’t there like she said she’d be. *facepalm* Jessica is about to get ready for a date with Brad when a car pulls up outside. Lila’s at the wheel and Annie’s in the backseat. Nancy is in the passenger seat and she tells Jessica to hop in so they can talk. Jessica says she has to be somewhere else, but Nancy pulls out a gun and tells her she’d better just go ahead and get in the fucking car.
So now we’ve caught up to the prologue. The cheerleaders are in the basement and “Free Bird” is playing upstairs while water pours out of a pipe. For some reason, when none of the cheerleaders come home Sunday night, all their parents come to the conclusion that they’re at Maria’s house having a big party because her parents are out of town. Nobody goes over there or anything, but they take the fact that nobody is answering the phone there as proof of this party. Then, when all the cheerleaders skip school on Monday, everyone thinks they’re just a bunch of wild and crazy gals. Nobody worries.
Jessica manages to get herself untied and she unties everyone else. They all gather at the top of the stairs near the apparently watertight door, but the water level is still rising. Liz shows up because she had a flash of brilliance and deduced that Nancy was the missing cheerleader from 1976 and she wants to talk to her for the article. When she gets there, all that happens is that she gets thrown into the basement with the others. Well done.
Since Nancy seems to be living in the past and keeps calling the cheerleaders by the names of the girls on the ’76 squad, Liz comes up with the idea of going along with it and pretending they want Nancy on the squad. The plan gets Amy’s Project-Youth-volunteer seal of approval, so they all start chanting some cheer and then yelling for Nancy to join them. Finally, Nancy opens the door and the water rushes out and knocks her over. The cheerleaders go free and Nancy gets arrested. Hooray!
I guess that’ll show the school board what happens when you try to impose a little adult supervision over the cheerleaders.
“Cowabunga! Brad is looking better and better every minute!”
Did anyone besides Ninja Turtles ever actually say “cowabunga?” Especially as late as October of 1997?
“Why can’t he cut me a little slack now and then when I’m working on a writing project that matters to me? He does this every single time!”
He really does. Maybe it’s time to BREAK UP!!
The Cover: Very compelling picture, I guess. But not really what happened in the book.