Title: Patty’s Last Dance
Tagline: Patty Gilbert doesn’t need friends — or does she?
Summary: Scared and alone…
Patty Gilbert has dreamed of being a ballerina since she was a little girl Following her dream has meant making sacrifices, and one thing Patty has never had time for is friends. But when she beats her biggest rival, Kerry Glenn, for the lead role in Swan Lake, Patty is sure it has all been worth it.
Then Patty learns that she has scoliosis, which means she’ll have to wear a back brace for several years. Patty feels as if all her dreams have been shattered, and the worst part is she has nowhere to turn for support. Kerry has always acted friendly—and she’s the only person who really seems to understand how Patty feels about ballet. But can Patty trust Kerry with her secret?
Since Patty’s friends are probably going to be one or both the Wakefields, no, no she does not need friends. Though that summary makes me think that we might get very little Wakefields. Do I dare get my hopes up? Since we’re back to a regular series book after a special edition that I pretty much loved — I’m going to guess no, no I should not get my hopes up.
[Dove: Oh, it’s a retelling of Deenie by Judy Blume. Anyone who tries to tell a story that Judy Blume did already (I see you Jessica’s Secret – even if you are written by #BestJamie) won’t get it done as well as she did.]
We open with Amy Sutton, Julie Porter, and Elizabeth Wakefield rushing to the Wakefield house to watch their new favourite show, You’ll Never Believe This! This does not bode well for me enjoying this book.
Meanwhile, Jessica comes home with Lila Fowler and Mandy Miller. Jessica literally takes a glass of juice from her sister’s hand and drinks it, which is even funnier to me than stealing the shoes off her feet. No, I don’t know why.
(Lila refuses to drink the orange juice because it is from concentrate. #neverchange) [Raven: I thought it was ALL fresh in California…?]
Requisite look the same but act very different except that the twins and their friends all love the same show now. A show hosted by Hollywood Jones which is the most ridiculous and fun stage name I’ve heard this week. Mandy thinks he’s gorgeous; I originally assumed Hollywood was a woman, but cool. Julie shoots Mandy down because he has to be at least 35. At least 35. Oh god.
Even Elizabeth admits that Hollywood is good looking, as if she’s never thought a guy was attractive before. Sorry, Todd.
People on this episode: San Francisco group trying to break the record for eating blueberry pancakes and two six-year-old girls in San Jose jumping rope for five hours. And Hollywood announces a live tour. First stop, Sacramento (which is north of San Francisco and San Jose). Second stop, Sweet Valley. Which is much, much farther south. Also, I don’t believe for an instant they’d go to Sweet Valley before Los Angeles.
(Yes, yes, I know, I expect too much logic.) [Dove: Wing, when are you going to just accept that this sleepy town is BETTER than LA? Doesn’t Elizabeth constantly remind us that it’s the best town in the WHOLE WORLD?]
Of course everyone wants to figure out how to get on the show. All they come up with are terrible things to show Hollywood, though; Hairnet’s boring classes, terrible tacos on Wednesdays (…what, no Taco Tuesday?), dorky guys in gym class (Lila is grumpy that she’s stuck with Randy Mason for ballroom dancing).
This inspires Mandy, and she suggests that the do some sort of dancing longer than anyone else ever has. Like a dance marathon, which is Elizabeth’s addition. Everyone thinks this is a great idea, and I have to admit, I’m fairly charmed by them teaming up for this. I’m sure this pleasant feeling won’t last long.
Oh, hey, Jessica’s still in ballet class. No mention of Elizabeth, though. [Dove: I like to believe that she was so humiliated by finding out that she only got praise through favouritism, she quit, citing that she had to do more “intellectual” persuits, with just a schmear of disdain for Jessica’s continued enthusiasm in athletic activities.] Jessica says she’ll tell everyone in her class and names off two whole entire people: Kerry Glenn and Patty Gilbert. Kerry will definitely do it, but Elizabeth and Mandy don’t think Patty will because she’s so focused on ballet.
Skip over to Patty who is, unsurprisingly, at the barre, stretching before her advanced ballet class. UMM. Wait, why is Patty in both an advanced class and a class with Jessica? Or are you telling me that Jessica is also in an advanced class? Even though she’s been dancing for only a handful of months (sort of … no idea where we are in the endless Sweet Valley year right now). Patty has light-brown skin and thick hair, and I am bracing myself. Please don’t focus on race, book. Please don’t focus on race.
Patty: pale orange leotard, orange barrettes.
Kerry: bright, floral-patterned leotard, white tights, bright pink leg warmers.
Okay, I find you two adorable.
Kerry tries to talk to Patty about the upcoming school dance, but Patty’s not really interested in it, or in talking with Kerry, or in anything but being the best. Oh, Patty, I like your drive, but since I already know things are going to go terribly wrong, I worry for you and your poor, obsessive self.
Ooooh, a bit of a twist in their competition; Patty is in seventh grade and Kerry is in sixth, but even though Patty is a year older, Kerry is already competing with her for roles, like for Swan Lake. Patty’s feeling the pressure.
New teacher alert! Madame Baril this time. (They call her Madame Bear behind her back, which made me laugh.) [Raven: She’d better be a step up from Madame fucking Andre.]
(Patty goes to Baril’s advanced class 5 afternoons a week and practices at home on the weekends, so when the hell does she have time to be in a class with Jessica?!) [Dove: She doesn’t have class with Jessica. Jessica used to have classes with Kerry, but Kerry is so promising that she’s been moved up to advanced (Patty’s class). I’m guessing Kerry missed out on praise due to Madame André’s Wakefield adoration, and the blinders have only recently been removed.]
Madame Baril calls them all to her before class; the girls are nervous, because she’s supposed to announce their roles in Swan Lake but they all thought she’d do it after class. I would, because now she’s going to have some very distracted dancers.
(Other advanced ballet students: Jo Morris and Tina Serai.)
Patty is, of course, cast as Odette, the Swan Queen, and she is thrilled. Kerry congratulates her in a way that seems like she means it, and I find myself liking Kerry. I hope she and Patty do end up friends.
At home that night, Patty rushes to tell her sister Jana about winning the role. Jana is super proud of her and talks her up (how good she’ll do, how she’ll be famous someday, etc., great big sister stuff), but then takes off with her friends (Dana, Robert, and Mike) to go to the Dairi Burger and a movie.
Patty’s sad when Jana leaves, because her parents aren’t home and she doesn’t have any friends to go hang out with, and she wishes she had someone to celebrate with her. Oh, honey, you make my heart hurt.
Mr Clarke approves their use of the gym for the dance marathon. Jessica gets up all her nerve to talk to Bruce Patman, because if he does the marathon, almost all the guys in school will; not only does he agree to do it and bring his friends, but he asks her to save a dance for him. Welp, it’s been fun, Aaron, but here we go again. [Raven: This whole Brice Patman thing is weird. One book, everyone interacts with Bruce as if they know him well. The next, everyone is “”OMG BRUCE IS SO HOT AND MYSTERIOUS.” Make up your minds, Ghosties!]
Elizabeth brings bad news, though, because she’s been in the library doing research. (Ellen, when Mary Wallace jokes about them having another library tour: I fell asleep during the last one and I got a detention. #neverchange)
The world record for a dance marathon is seven months; the California record is four weeks. That’s … that’s a lot of dance, oh my god. However, she did find an under-fourteen category in California, which is eleven hours and thirteen minutes. That is much more like what I expected, but Jessica is aghast.
Belinda says they should aim for twelve hours to break it; Janet wants eleven hours, thirteen minutes, and two seconds; Ellen drops that to one second. ILU, Ellen. Kimberly suggests they try for another record, but Many points out they’ve already told everyone and eleven hours isn’t that long, they just need an exciting DJ. Considering how little bike riding the Unicorns did back in that marathon thing, I have my doubts about this working.
Back over to Patty, before class on Monday afternoon, she takes some time on the performance stage to get the feel for it, which is utterly adorable. Kerry makes more overtures of friendship in the changing room, because Kerry is the greatest; Patty, of course, shoots this down, because Patty is heartbreaking. (Patty is the Twilight Sparkle. I am the Twilight Sparkle. I am feeling super sympathetic for Patty so far.)
Madame Baril asks Patty to stand up straight for her; Patty thinks she’s judging her size for her costume, but of course that is for the seamstress (duh, Patty); Madame Baril thought she saw something, but then changes her mind. She does keep watching Patty closely, though, and keeps seeing something a bit off while she’s warming up. Baril, it seems mighty convenient that you are suddenly noticing all these things about her spine and hips when you haven’t otherwise caught it during all those classes. [Raven: I dunno, it’s actually nice to see a teacher doing SOMETHING.]
Patty’s not super friendly with her mom when she gets home, either, and goes straight down to her mini-studio in the basement (I love that her parents built this for her). She’s feeling shaken by the first Swan Lake rehearsal, because Baril’s attention made her nervous and the rest of the rehearsal didn’t go well at all.
Jana comes down to check on her, and Patty opens up to her, which is the sweetest thing. I love how they sister. Then Patty realises that maybe she’s grown, and sure enough, she’s gained some height, at least an inch in the last six months. Patty is sure that Baril has noticed she’s getting too tall for ballet. Now, that is a concern, though not nearly as much as it would be for gymnastics (let’s just say that I passed typical gymnastics height way before I hit puberty); I feel for Patty.
Mandy and Jessica waiting around for people to show up for the first meeting to organise the dance marathon which is very optomistic of them considering how much the Unicorns suck at organising anything but parties. (And sometimes even then.) Lila comes by only to say she can’t stick around; her neighbours, the Pratts (…what a name) are moving out and she has to say good-bye. She doesn’t know anything about the new neighbours who bought the Pratt house, but they must be rich because the Pratt mansion is one of the biggest in the neighbourhood with a pool even bigger than the Fowler’s pool. I am shocked Lila hasn’t forced her dad to buy the Pratt house; she told him they should do that, but so far, he has refused. Ha.
Janet shows up next, leading about fifteen people with her, but she has bad news; she failed an English test and her parents grounded her for the next four weekends, which keeps her out of the marathon. Caroline Pearce can’t be in it, either, because her grandmother is coming to visit; Tom McKay is going to a football game in L.A.; and basically the entire group has to drop out of the marathon.
Mandy is, rightfully, suspicious that everyone is dropping out now that they know how long they have to dance. They’re down to eight people, which doesn’t make for an exciting TV show, but Mandy refuses to give up, because Mandy is the best. #neverchange
Jessica decides that the best way to get everyone excited about it is to make sure they will get on TV, so she must find a way to get Hollywood to promise he will come. She doesn’t share this idea with Mandy, at least not yet.
Patty is struggling in ballet class, and Madame Baril continues to watch her closely. Patty is trying to hide her body by wearing a sweater even though it is causing her to overheat. It doesn’t stop Baril from noticing that the line of her body is wrong; Patty has been hunching over all day trying not to show how much she’s grown. Patty, as a dancer with this much experience, I would expect you to realise that hunching is just going to draw more attention to yourself. [Dove: Even as someone whose only dance knowledge comes from Flowers in the Attic (and sequels) I saw the flaws in this plan.]
Madame Baril decides that Patty hasn’t been dancing up to her normal standards because she’s nervous about her first big starring role. Baril felt the same way when she was cast as Odette the first time and advises Patty to put it out of her mind and think only about the rehearsal, about dancing for herself, not an audience.
Kerry and Jessica run into each other at the studio and talk briefly about rehearsals versus class with Madame Andre. I suppose this will be the only mention of her, and I won’t get to see Raven Go Boom. Alas. Jessica goes to ask Patty if she’ll dance at the marathon; Patty hedges, but agrees to think about it. [Raven: Thankfully, Madame Andre is largely absent in this book, as she was in the lives of her students. #neverchange.]
Jessica does eventually mention her idea to Mandy and they work on drafting a letter to him to convince him to come. Steven teases them about writing a love letter to Johnny Buck (jealous, Steven? — actually, he then goes on to tease her about her boyfriend, Airhead, so maybe he is). They write about the marathon and Jessica, of course, exaggerates how many people will be there (she promises 50 and then wants to increase it to 100). #neverchange #bestjess
Patty is feeling more confident by the end of the week and is excited about her costume because the seamstress has just measured her for the fluffy white tutu and feather headdress. (Odette’s costume is generally beautiful.) She’s even slightly friendly with Kerry, but as they get started talking about their families (damn, that’s a huge step for Patty), Madame Baril calls Patty into her office. OMINOUS.
Baril says there’s still something off about her alignment, but it is not something that is down to her technique; Baril even noticed it when she bent over to tie her shoe. Ugh, the build to this is terrible, because I know what’s coming (and even if I didn’t, these are all standard ways to write about scoliosis being found in a character. Baril does tell her that her growing taller isn’t a problem, but she wants her to see a doctor because she’s worried.
That night, Patty talks to Jana about what Baril said; Patty decides not to mention that Baril wants her to go see a doctor. Instead, she tries to look up what might be wrong in one of her father’s medical encyclopedias, but all it talks about is how things work, not how they go wrong. That … seems doubtful in a medical encyclopedia, but it’s been a long, long time since I actually read one. (Patty’s lucky Google isn’t around, because in about thirty seconds, she’d be convinced she was dying.) [Dove: *googles ‘my cat has cold’* … *gets back a lot of scary information* NOPE.]
Saturday, Lila complains that Randy Mason has threatened not to do the marathon if he can’t dance with Lila all night. Now, Lila is a snob, that is true, but that’s bullshit from Randy Mason. You don’t try to coerce someone into doing what you want, asshole.
AND THEN AND THEN AND THEN
Mandy sees a sign in the window that upsets them all: Big Mesa Middle School is recruiting people to be in their all-school three-legged race. I am dying.
On Monday, Madame Baril asks Patty about the doctor, and Patty fumbles her way through the lie. Please tell me you’re not believing all this, Baril. Please. Of course, it makes her feel guilty and terrible and Patty’s not sure how long she can keep lying. GOOD.
Madame Baril takes Patty aside to talk about a friend of hers in ballet school in New York. Camille was cast as the Fairy of Modesty in Sleeping Beauty, which had a demanding solo. Camille was desperate to impress the people who would be there, so much so that when she twisted her ankle early in rehearsals, she hid it and refused to go to the doctor until after the performance. She collapsed after her first jump, though, broke her ankle, and had to stay off it for months. She was never the same dancer after that. Baril says this is why she’s cautious with her students, but of course Patty has nothing to worry about.
I’m going to take this as Baril not buying her story for an instant, because I would like to be able to respect one teacher in Sweet Valley. [Dove: *blinks* Holy shit. An adult that’s good at teaching. What the fuck?] [Raven: I know, right? Ballet Teacher in Teaching Shocker!]
The conversation works, too; Patty does not want to end up like Camille, and so she’s going to go to the doctor. A+ work there, Baril.
Jessica does some subterfuge and calls Brittany Shaw from Big Mesa to find out how they’re sure that they’ll be on TV. Hollywood wrote to them and said he’d be around sometime Saturday afternoon; they also have 146 people signed up, and Brittany even offers to find Jessica a partner. Aww, I like you, Brittany. You get shit done.
Patty goes home and talks to her parents and Jana about needing to go to the doctor. Her parents are, of course, worried, but Patty tries to calm them by explaining that her role is so demanding Baril just wants to be safe. This doesn’t work. Mrs Gilbert agrees to have Dr Ringwald work them in the next day before rehearsal.
Oh, Patty’s only lived in Sweet Valley for a year. Okay, I’m going to cut Baril some slack over not noticing anything is off before; on the other hand, another fucking new girl, how many people move into Sweet Valley each year? (Maybe they’re making up for all the bodies buried in the Mercandy backyard.) [Dove: It’s a one-in one-out situation. Patty came in when Jessica murdered Sandra Ferris. There’s a lot of middle class white folks on a waiting list for a property in Sweet Valley. Those with tweens with issues get bumped up the list because Elizabeth Wakefield likes a project.] [Raven: So did Jessica murder the Pratts?]
Dr Ringwald is friendly and puts Patty at ease, telling her about the ballet step named after her because she was so ungraceful: the Ringwald Rump Landing. This is pretty charming. Nice bedside manner, Doc.
Patty’s grown an inch and a quarter in eight months, and Patty decides that’s the only thing wrong with her, but Dr Ringwald puts her through some other tests (and makes fun of kids who can’t reach past their knees, which is fucked up, Ringwald, I take back my bedside manner praise). [Dove: This. This so hard. Fuck you, Dr Ringwald.]
Dr Ringwald figures out that Patty has an advanced case of scoliosis; Mrs Gilbert says that her mother had it, and is worried that Patty will need surgery. Dr Ringwald can’t say, but is referring them to an orthopedic surgeon. Patty freaks the fuck out over this, understandably.
(Apparently, scoliosis can just appear during a growth spurt, so I’m completely forgiving Baril for not noticing before. My bad.) [Raven: So, is scoliosis a thing, then? Literally never heard of it. The book says it strikes one in ten kids…? I nvere noticed ONE slightly bendy kid in my entire school career. Very odd.]
Patty decides that she just won’t tell anyone her diagnosis, particularly Madame Baril. However, she struggles to pay attention in class and Madame Baril pays even closer attention to her. Patty just wants to get through her chance to dance Odette, so I’m pretty sure that lesson she learned from Camille’s story has gone right back out. (Can’t blame her, though. Of course she wants this one great moment; she’s afraid she’ll have to give up dancing forever.)
Kerry comes to offer Patty some sympathy over how hard Baril (the Bear) was on her during rehearsal. This just makes Patty feel worse, more alone and more scared than she’s been in her life. Oh, Patty. I love you. Let someone be your friend.
Uh oh. Jessica and Mandy get a letter from the “Creative Staff” saying they will try to drop by to see what they’ve planned but can’t make any promises. So either Big Mesa got a much better letter or they’re exaggerating. Jessica is tough as ever and calls Hollywood Jones immediately. God, Jess, you are amazing. #bestjess
She doesn’t get to him, though, just an assistant or something, Brian. When she tells him who she is, he thinks she’s with Big Mesa (because apparently they are in Sweet Valley?) and tells her that Hollywood is super excited about the three-legged race. No, really, I am dying.
Jessica tells him that they now have 200 people signed up, and Brian says that they really might get a visit from Hollywood himself. Oh, god, Jessica. What are you doing? Why have you learned nothing from all your other times lying got you in trouble?
(Oh, wait, because Wakefields Must Win, so there’s hardly ever any fallout.)
Jessica, of course, lies about talking directly to Hollywood and he promised that he would come and film their marathon. Suddenly, people are coming out of the woodwork to get back into the marathon, starting with Janet, who is ungrounded now because she studied all last weekend. Jessica gives them an assignment to get at least 5 people to sign up before the end of the day. I love when Jessica gets bossy with the Unicorns.
Patty spends lunch doing research on scoliosis and scares herself half to death over a picture of the Milwaukee brace, which goes from neck to butt and is basically a big cage. Oh, Patty. Guess you didn’t need Google to terrify yourself after all.
Patty continues to do badly during rehearsal, and Madame Baril continues to call her on it. Patty is miserable and obsessed with the brace and still feels like she has no one to talk to about it. UGH PATTY MY HEART.
OH GODDAMN THEN BARIL GIVES THE ROLE OF ODETTE TO KERRY BECAUSE SHE’S NOT SURE PATTY WILL BE READY BY THE PERFORMANCE NEXT WEEK. HOLY SHIT I DID NOT ACTUALLY SEE THAT COMING.
Kerry comes to Patty’s defense, though, and says that Patty is the best dancer for the role, the most dramatic, stronger than Kerry; Madame Baril actually listens to her, which is even more ridiculous than her switching the role a week before the performance (I can actually see that part happen, for one). Kerry says that Patty is having trouble concentrating on her jumps, but that she thinks if they work together after rehearsal, Patty will be a perfect Odette. [Dove: Kerry is amazing for this. There’s not many Sweet Valley girls that would stand up for someone who’s barely friendly with them because it’s the right thing to do. No, Elizabeth, you don’t count.]
Baril agrees with this plan, but also orders Kerry to learn the role, just in case.
Patty is shocked by Kerry sticking up for her, but it also makes her feel good. Oh, Patty, friendship. You need it. You deserve it.
By Friday morning, the Unicorns have managed to sign up 97 people. Janet shows up with another 27 people, so they’re slowly making it, but they are making it. For now.
Patty goes to see Dr Maxwell, the specialist. When he shows them the x-ray of her spine, even Patty can see how it curves and is surprised she didn’t notice it. She has a backward S-curve, which are difficult to detect and only noticeable when she bends over. Her rib cage rotates slightly and one of her shoulder blades is higher than the other.
She has a thirty-five degree curve, which is a double major curve (not more serious than other curves, just a major curve in both directions). Anything over twenty degrees is serious, especially at Patty’s age when she’s growing so fast. He recommends a Milwaukee brace, and Patty freaks the fuck out. Understandably. Again. UGH PATTY I FEEL FOR YOU.
Dr Maxwell reassures her that once she gets used to the brace, she can do practically anything in it, and she may be able to take it off occasionally for ballet. Not every day, but sometimes. Otherwise, she has to wear it 23 hours a day, except for one hour to shower and three days a week to dance for one hour in Patty’s case. Ballet and swimming are good for the recovery process. Even with that, it will be at least two years of the brace.
That afternoon, Patty has a wonderful rehearsal, and Madame Baril is happy. Patty, of course, is heartbroken over what’s happening and is treating this as the last time she’ll dance ever. This story is making me feel too much I don’t like it.
Kerry and Patty stay late to rehearse the jumps. They bond over different ways to practice and rehearse and it’s all very sweet. They dance together, it’s great, and then Patty remembers the brace and falls in the middle of a jump. She starts to cry, Kerry is terrified that she hurt Patty by pushing for the jumps, and Kerry runs off.
Kerry finds her this time, though, on the stage in the performance room. Ugh, Kerry, I love you so much right now. Patty breaks down and tells her everything. Kerry’s heartbroken when Patty says she can’t dance anymore, but happier when Patty mentions she might still be able to take a few classes without the brace. She reassures Patty that there are great dancers who don’t get started until they are 14 or 15. (Also, Patty, the doctor said you can dance while wearing your brace; it won’t be the same as what you’d do without it, but at least your skills won’t totally atrophy.)
Kerry invites Patty off to Casey’s for a sundae, because that’s what Kerry does whenever she as to make a decision. I love their budding friendship so much, y’all. SO MUCH. Especially when they bond over dancing and their love of ballet as they walk over.
They join up with Jessica and some of the Unicorn Club, who are apparently Kerry’s friends, though she’s not a Unicorn herself. (…she’s not, right?) [Dove: No, she’s not, but because of the ballet thing, she and Jess are… distantly friendly, I guess. It was her birthday party that had the ballet theme that Sandra bungled. So I assume they got friendly during the Madame André years?] [Raven: Jessica and Kerry are friend-adjacent.] Patty actually tells them about her having scoliosis; Mandy talks about the volunteer who visited her while Mary was in the hospital fighting cancer. The volunteer had just gotten her brace off and was super excited over it. Belinda mentions a girl on an opposing soccer team used to wear a brace and was still a great player. God, they are all pretty amazing to her. Way to go, Unicorns. (And far more helpful than what Elizabeth and friends usually pull off.) [Dove: Elizabeth would just pat her on the shoulder and get tears in her eyes as she thought about how hard her life would be if she had a brace. My Lizhate is strong today.]
Patty even agrees to dance in the marathon, which brings them to 147 people. They’re making real progress.
The next day, Patty and Jana talk about everything, the brace, Patty hanging out with Kerry and how great Kerry is, the Unicorns being supportive — this is wonderful. I’m pretty sure my heart just grew three sizes. Damn it.
Dr Maxwell calls them to let them know there’s been a cancellation with the brace specialist, who can now get them in on Friday, right before the performance. Mr Gilbert is certain they will have enough time to get it measured and get her to the performance. I am suddenly terrified things will go terribly wrong and ruin my happiness in this book.
On Monday, Patty finally tells Madame Baril (and the rest of the dancers) about her scoliosis. She apologises for lying, too, which is more than we usually get from people. Baril flat out tells her that there’s nothing wrong with dancing while she has scoliosis and tells her she’d better get dressed for class right away. Baril is a billion times better than Madame Andre. [Raven: Agreed. Then again, Mr Nydick is a billion times better than Madame Andre, and he touches kids.]
Brian, Hollywood’s assistant, calls Jessica to say that they’ll come by the school early on Friday to interview her and everyone else involved in the marathon, and then they’ll come by on Saturday to catch the beginning, middle, and end of the marathon.
Kerry comes over to have dinner with Patty and her family and they continue to bond over ballet and Kerry’s love of Johnny Buck; Patty’s not very into music that isn’t related to the ballet, but Kerry’s going to get her caught up now that Patty will have a little more time. UGH I LOVE THEIR FRIENDSHIP SO MUCH.
They talk about the fitting process, which involves wrapping plaster around her and then using the shape to make a brace. It’s a little like paper mache, and I’ve read at least a couple books that all describe it the same way, right down to the paper mache comparison.
Kerry subtly offers that come with her if she needs moral support, and Patty takes her up on it, because Patty has thrown herself full-tilt into this friendship thing, and I love it.
The Hollywood interview goes well, except that Veronica Brooks shows up and makes them look like they don’t know their classmates. Which they don’t, because guess what, she’s a new girl, and it’s her first day, and she’s already insulting the school compared to her old school in Cedar Springs. They’ve just moved into a crummy house in a neighbourhood full of old people except for her neighbour who sings Johnny Buck songs really loudly and has a terrible voice.
Meet Lila’s new neighbour. I am dying.
While Kerry and Patty are waiting for Patty to go in to be fitted, they see a teenager girl wearing a brace. Kerry convinces Patty to go talk to her; Theresa is super friendly and talks to them about her brace and how she adjusted to it quickly even though she hated the idea at first. She had to give up gymnastics for the three years, but she’s been swimming a lot and ended up falling in love with swimming, too, and wants to be on both teams once the brace is off. She and Patty exchange numbers and Theresa offers to answer her questions and talk whenever she wants. UGH FRIENDSHIP THIS IS SO GREAT.
Jessica stresses over what to wear to the marathon and then gets caught up in how brilliant she is to get the dance marathon to actually happen and to get it on TV and this is why Jessica never actually learns a lesson about lying, because things almost always come up in her favour. #bestjess #worstjess
Patty has a wonderful performance, of course, and gets a standing ovation, of course, and I don’t even care how cheesy this is because I am feeling so warm and kindhearted toward this book filled with learning how to be friends. Go, Patty, go! *cheers*
Baril tells Patty that her performance was wonderful and then asks her to become an assistant teacher while she’s in the brace; Baril taught another girl who developed scoliosis. That girl danced whenever she could, but it wasn’t enough for a girl with her talent, so Baril had her be an assistant teacher and it helped her work on her development and stay strong until her brace came off. God, Baril is so much better than Andre. SO MUCH. [Dove: Not much of a compliment. Elizabeth’s toy koala is a better ballet teacher than Madame André. But I agree, Baril is awesome.]
Patty’s family wants a picture of her on stage, and she brings Kerry in, too, because that’s how Patty wants to remember the night, being with her friend. UGH FRIENDSHIP MY HEART THIS IS TERRIBLE.
Over at the marathon, they only have 100 people show up to dance; they need at least 90 people dancing the whole time, so there are 10 spots to drop out. Also, a far cry from the 200 you promised, Wakefield. Hollywood turns up, points out that it’s not nearly as big a crowd as she promised, and then takes off for Big Mesa. Jessica realises how fake his smile looks and how he doesn’t make her swoon anymore because he’s an asshole. Oh, Jessica.
By 4 p.m., they’ve had four people drop out. Hollywood turns up again, and flat out says he doesn’t care about the record but wants a huge crowd to show on tv; Big Mesa had a giant turnout and it was like a huge party.
When they have 14 minutes left, there’s still only 96 people. Jessica has her dad put on Johnny Buck and they all dance in a giant line like a centipede. She even gets Hollywood to join them, though he gets in at the start of the line. They mob Hollywood after, hugging him tight, because Jessica knows that shot will end up on television.
They do turn up on the show, enough that everyone is pleased. We skip back over to Elizabeth getting a science test back; she only missed two questions. Veronica is in her class and she’s grumpy that she got two fewer points than Elizabeth. She blames it on being new and then says she’ll do better than Elizabeth on the next test.
Just what this book needs, to end on Elizabeth. We were doing so well without her.
This is, of course, a setup for the next book, The Great Boyfriend Switch; Veronica apparently is out for Elizabeth. I assume because of Todd or something, based on that title. Boring.
I went into this book expecting to dislike it a lot. TWIST ENDING: I LOVED IT. Patty is great, Kerry is great, there was very little Elizabeth and that worked well, the b-plot with the marathon was fun and funny and filled with #bestjess, the Unicorns were amazing and also super friendly toward Patty — I love it all. None of the things I worried about happening happened, and it was so much better than I could have imagined.
…why am I suddenly so fond of these books? What’s wrong with me?
[Dove: I wasn’t so much a fan. I’m glad this book went to Wing because it’s always more fun when the recapper feels strongly about it. I thought it was a fine book – and I really enjoyed the lack of Elizabeth and Team Boring – but the story was just Deenie, but with less depth, and I’m not very into ballet at all. I did like the friendship growing between Kerry and Patty though. That was a high point.]
[Raven: I’m in the middle on this one. First, ballet just ain’t my bag. Sorry. Like, I enjoyed Billy Elliot, but that was because it was sent in the north of England, and working class families etc. When it’s ballet in a ballet setting… just no. And having no clue about scoliosis meant I just did a lot of shrugging. HOWEVER. I really liked the fact that there was no Wakefield influence in the main plot. At all. At MOST, the whole Unicorns Being Friendly scene is the only intertaction between A and B plots, and having the Unicorns being exactly what Patty needed, without realising or engineering a narrative, was actually brilliant. The Patty / Kerry friendship was nicely organic, and the Wakefields stayed out of focus. So yeah. Nice despite the ballet.]
Characters: Amy Sutton, Elizabeth Wakefield, Hollywood Jones, Janet Howell, Jessica Wakefield, Julie Porter, Kerry Glenn, Lila Fowler, Madame Baril, Mandy Miller, Mary Giaccio-Robinson-Wallace, Patty Gilbert, Veronica Brooks
Relationships: Jessica Wakefield/Aaron Dallas