Title: Girl Talk #1: Welcome to Junior High!
Author: L.E. Blair (one of many pen names of Katherine Applegate)
Tagline: Can these girls survive seventh grade?
Description: It’s the beginning of an unforgettable year . . .
Seventh grade has just started and already Sabrina Wells has got troubles! She’s made an enemy of the principal’s daughter, Stacy the Great, met the boy of her dreams, and been put in charge of the Homecoming Dance decorating committee.
Will Sabrina manage to keep Stacy off her back, fall in love, and get shy Allison, preppie Katie, and Randy, the hip new girl from New York, to agree on a theme for the dance?
Um, as far as the last thing on that description’s list goes, I don’t think you’ll get Randy to agree to much of anything by standing around her, staring in shock and horror like y’all appear to be doing on the cover!
When I was in fifth grade, I had a friend I used to trade books with all the time. It introduced me to some book series I’d never read before, including the Girl Talk series. I borrowed number 3, The New You, from said friend, and ended up keeping it when I moved away. I still have it, and until now, I think it’s the only Girl Talk book I had ever read, but I wanted to revisit the series from the very beginning! I got the first two from Thriftbooks, and will fill my collection in as we go with these recaps. I’m thinking maybe one Girl Talk a month along with the regular spooky-scary books. We’ll see how it goes.
Anyway, I remember these books being a lot of fun, with good friendships and believable characters. So, let’s get into it!
Note for my non-American readers: I’m told our school system is confusing when it’s something you haven’t grown up with, so a quick explanation. Junior High is comprised of grades 7-9, generally ages 12-14. Then Senior High would be grades 10-12, generally ages 15-17. However, Junior and Senior High is a thing that was pretty much phased out by the eighties. I feel like most YA authors didn’t get the memo until well into the 1990s. These days we have middle school – grades 6-8, ages 11-13, and high school – grades 9-12 (aka Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior class), ages 14-17. And if you’re not confused yet, the school I went to when I read this book was grades 5-8. This is a weird outlier and I’ve never seen another school group their grades that way. Oh, Humbo (that would be Humboldt County in Northern California), never change your weirdo ways.
Each Girl Talk book actually starts with a Robot Roll Call called “Meet the Girl Talk Characters,” so I’ll go ahead and give that to you now, verbatim:
Sabrina Wells is petite, with curly auburn hair, sparkling hazel eyes, and a bubbly personality. Sabrina loves magazines, shopping, sleepovers, and most of all, she loves talking to her best friends.
Katie Campbell is a straight-A student and super athlete. With her blond hair, blue eyes, and matching clothes, she’s everyone’s idea of little miss perfect. But Katie has a few surprises for everyone, including herself!
Randy Zak has just moved to Acorn Falls from New York City, and is she ever cool! With her “radical” spiked haircut and her hip New York clothes, Randy teaches everyone just how much fun it is to be different.
Allison Cloud is a Native American Indian. Allison’s super smart and really beautiful. But she has one major problem: She’s thirteen years old, five foot seven, and still growing!
We open with Sabrina telling us how excited she’s been for junior high to start all summer, but now that the day is here, it’s a bit of a letdown. This has been her pattern, because, having four older brothers (which I think includes her twin, Sam, who is four minutes older than her – it’s unclear at this point), by the time she gets to things, they’re not new anymore. I mean, it’s still new to you, Sabs, but okay. I’m one paragraph in, and being in Sabrina’s head is already exhausting!
Anyway, Sabs is running late, because she’s always running late. It’s not really her fault – her thirteen-year-old brother, Mark, was hogging the bathroom in order to shave his non-existent facial hair. So basically he’s scraping a razor along his delicate face skin for no reason. Sounds like fun and I’m sure doesn’t irritate the skin in any way.
When she gets to school, there’s no one around, and Sabrina is sure that she can’t be that late, so she busts into the registration office. It’s not her best entrance, but at least she didn’t fall down. Apparently Sabrina is pretty klutzy, but she tells us she’s very concerned with making great entrances because she wants to be an actress. Sabrina is adorable. And exhausting. That’s not an insult, but I would probably need a nap after a couple hours hanging out with her.
She manages to get her schedule (shouldn’t those have been mailed out a couple weeks before school started? that’s always how my schools did it) from the lady in the office, whom the other students have nicknamed the Human Pencil due to her being tall and skinny, with her hair in a bun on the top of her head. Sabs also mentions her skin being kind of yellow, but I’m going to assume this is yellow as in sallow, and not yellow as in racist coding of an Asian person. Sabrina assures the Human Pencil that she’s never going to be late again, then tells us that she’s started a self-improvement list in a pink notebook she bought specifically for that purpose. Being on time is number one on her list.
Everything is different in junior high – she has to switch classes every 45 minutes, and share a locker with someone, and she’s not sure which way to spin the locker dial. Oh, same, Sabrina, same. I once spent a good five minutes trying to open my middle school locker before realizing I was at the wrong locker. Not that it mattered, because I had no idea how to open a padlock dial. Left right left? Right left right? What unholy witchcraft is this?! I didn’t even know you were supposed to switch directions of spin!
Anyway, luckily for Sabrina, her locker mate has left the dial on the last number, meaning it didn’t lock back up and she can just open it up. Whoever her locker mate is, they have their things very neatly organized and Sabs hopes they don’t mind her messiness. Although she is trying to become more organized – it’s number eight on her list! I don’t know why I find this list so adorable, but I do. I probably had a similar list going on around that age. I might have been the more depressed, introverted version of Sabrina, actually.
Sabrina finds her math class (she’s all, yuck, MATH, and at that age I totally would have agreed. I don’t mind it so much these days) and doesn’t recognize anyone from her elementary school, which she finds strange. Then the teacher writes “Algebraic Equations” on the blackboard, and she freaks out because this is way more advanced than she was prepared for! Then her brother Mark spots her and points out that she’s in the wrong classroom – this is EIGHTH grade math, not seventh grade. She looks at her schedule, and sure enough, she’s in room 303 when she should be in room 403. Whoops.
Cue Sabrina trying to do the walk of shame unnoticed and promptly tripping and landing in a cute guy’s lap. Oh, Sabs. The cute guy is named Alec, and he looks like Tom Cruise, who is Sabrina’s favorite actor. She even has his poster taped up over her bed. (Tom Cruise, not Alec.) Oh, 1990 and your Tom Cruise before he jumped all over Oprah’s couch and became the Scientology Messiah or whatever the fuck is going on there. At least we have yet to hear about him sexually assaulting anyone.
In her actual math class, Sabrina isn’t paying attention and has to be told by the girl next to her to say “here” when the teacher calls her name. This girl is Allison Cloud, and Sabrina informs us that she knows her a little bit from fifth grade because she’d brought in Indian headdresses to use in the Thanksgiving play and explained that American Indians should actually be referred to as Native Americans. I feel like this is a mixed bag of good and bad here (I’m surprised in 1990 that we’re getting “Native American” and not just “Indian” straight across the board, so that’s cool; however the headdresses and depictions of the first Thanksgiving are somewhat suspect), but I’m inclined to lean toward it being more good than bad. Also, this was the most Sabrina had ever heard Allison say at once, because she’s very shy and quiet.
Sabrina again zones out and then panics when the teacher asks her to round 2.479 to the nearest whole number. (This is seventh grade math? I remember doing this kind of stuff in fourth or fifth grade! We were multiplying fractions in seventh grade!) She thinks the answer is two, but then second-guesses the hell out of herself until Allison whispers that it’s two. Then we get a paragraph of Sabs admiring Allison’s straight, black, silky hair over her own frizzy, curly red hair, and also her calling Allison exotic-looking. Erhm, not loving the othering of the one character of color, but it’s relatively inoffensive overall, I suppose. If I remember correctly, it becomes rather egregious in the book where Allison does some modeling, and she’s really annoyed by it there. But that’s Book 3. We’ll get there eventually.
At the end of class, Sabrina thanks Allison for her help and marvels at how tall she is – Sabs herself is only four foot ten and three-quarter inches. Man, I reached my full height of five foot three when I was twelve. For a brief time I was one of the tallest girls in class, and then . . . not so much. Big, chunky boots became my best friend. Anyway . . .
Sabrina has band class next (she plays clarinet), and while she’s happy she’ll get to play in the marching band at Homecoming, she wishes she could have been a flag girl instead. She missed tryouts over the summer because her dad took them all out on their annual fishing trip during tryouts. Bummer. She runs into Katie Campbell at her locker and realizes that Katie is her locker mate. She’s psyched about this, because she’s known Katie since first grade and likes her a lot, even though they never really hung out or anything. Katie’s best friend Erica moved to California over the summer, so Sabs thinks Katie probably misses her a lot.
Sabrina describes Katie’s outfit to us, and holy shit, the cover artist must have actually read the book or something, because it is exactly what Katie is wearing on the cover! Actually, all the girls are dressed the way the cover depicts them! Who drew this cover? Ugh, Google is not being helpful here. Cover artist, whoever you are, A+ job! Sabrina also tells us that Katie is really cute, and is this girls being nice to other girls? Girls not being horrible to each other just because? I love it. This is how you write tween girl friendships, guys!
Katie is glad Sabrina is her locker mate as well, because she was afraid it might be the principal’s daughter, Stacy Hansen, whom Sabrina refers to as Stacy the Great because, well, Stacy thinks she’s so great. Sabrina doesn’t think Stacy’s all that beautiful or anything, but guys really like her even though she’s a total phony. I think we all knew that girl in school and were mystified by her popularity.
Sabs sees that Katie has the new issue of Young Chic magazine, and asks if she may please look at it, because being more polite is also on her list. She immediately flips to the horoscopes and asks Katie what her sign is. Katie doesn’t believe in astrology, but informs her she’s a Virgo. Well, that certainly tracks with what we know of her. Sabrina reads her horoscope, and Katie points out that it’s incredibly vague. Sabrina explains that it’s not vague; horoscopes are only supposed to give you a hint of what’s in your future. Sabrina. That is the very definition of vague. Anyway, Sabs is a Pisces, and her horoscope talks about an embarrassing moment at the beginning of the month, and going after the man of her dreams, especially if he’s a Cancer. Oh, boy, I see where this is going. I wonder what sign Alec is?
Katie says that Sabs doesn’t know any men, only boys. Hey, Katie? Being a pedantic asshole is my job!
Sabs spots Alec walking down the hall toward her and freaks out, telling Katie not to look while demanding she tell her what she should do. Katie logically suggests saying hello to him, but before Sabrina can say a word, Stacy calls out to him and she realizes he was walking toward Stacy, not her. Katie consoles her by saying once he gets to know Stacy he won’t like her too much, and hey, who is this dude anyway?
The bell rings, and Sabs discovers Katie also has band next, then Twin Brother Sam shows up and also has band, so they all walk to class together. Since the Homecoming parade is only a few weeks away, the teacher pulls all the flag girls up to the front to practice that, and of course Katie is a flag girl. Sabrina notices Sam noticing Katie, and assures herself that she’s mature enough to handle a “best friend and brother dating” scenario. Okay Sabs, I think you’re jumping the gun on a couple of fronts here, girl.
After class, Sabrina runs off to the bathroom before English class starts, and runs into “one of the toughest-looking girls” she’s ever seen. This is obviously Randy Zak based on the description we’re given, and she tells Sabrina to watch where she’s going next time. Rather than being offended, Sabs marvels at her outfit and finally realizes that it’s just like something she saw in a magazine article about New York fashions (. . . really? It’s just ripped jeans, a t-shirt, and a leather jacket. That was my standard outfit throughout most of the early 2000s, and I’ve never even been to NYC), and gets really excited to potentially meet someone from New York City. Sabs, you’re too cute, stop it.
She runs into English class (which is somehow also Homeroom, and since it’s not the first class of the day, it proves I have no actual idea how Homeroom works) and Katie compliments her hair, saying she wishes her hair would curl. Ack, girls complimenting other girls and being just generally awesome to each other! I love it!
The teacher, Ms. Staats, has everyone organize seating according to last name and tell everyone what they did over the summer. Oh, man, I used to hate shit like this. Allison is also in this class, and at her turn she’s so quiet that Ms. Staats has to ask her to repeat herself – Allison loves to read and read a hundred books over the summer. Oh. Am I actually Allison? I might actually be Allison.
When it’s finally Sabrina’s turn, she does the model walk she’s been practicing to her new seat and says that she went to day camp and met a lot of nice people. Then the teacher calls for “Rowena Zak” and gets no answer. The door flies open and the rude girl from the bathroom stomps in, growls at the teacher not to call her Rowena; her name is Randy, then stomps to her seat next to Sabrina and informs everyone that she’s from the city. Sorry, that should probably read “The City.” Ms. Staats asks if she means Minneapolis, and Randy sneers that no, she means New York City. Then she sits down and pulls out a Walkman without the teacher noticing somehow. I’m laughing so hard right now picturing this tiny tough girl. But come on, Ms. Staats, let’s demand a little more respect from this baby punk, shall we?
Ms. Staats divides the class up into groups to work on Homecoming activities, and assigns Sabrina, Katie, Allison, and
Rowena Randy to the decorating committee, with Sabrina in charge. She’s nervous because she’s never been in charge of anything before, but psyched to give it a go.
At lunch, Katie gets pizza and chocolate cake, while Sabs tells her that Mondays are her fruit-only day and she gets an apple, banana, and some grapes while jealously eyeing Katie’s lunch. Look, not gonna lie, unless this is leading up to some “dangers of eating disorders” storyline, I’m highly disappointed by this writing of a twelve year old on a fucking diet. Let a kid eat like a damn kid, okay? Sheesh.
They grab a table with Allison, then Stacy comes barreling up to them with her clique – Laurel, who Sabs thinks is really pretty; Eva, who she thinks looks like a rat; and B.Z., who seems more quiet and less Mean Girl than the others. Stacy yells at them for sitting at “her” table (it’s your first day and you’ve already staked claim to a lunch table? LOL okay) and tells Sabrina to take a hike. Sabs struggles with a comeback and ends up telling Stacy to “take a long walk on a short pier” because this is a middle school book so she can’t tell her to fuck off like any real kid would. Stacy and her group mock Sabrina’s less-than-sparkling comeback like Stacy’s was so great or something, and then Randy walks up and “accidentally” spills her lunch all over Stacy.
Randy sits with the rest of our group and says that Stacy was getting on her nerves, and what’s that girl’s problem anyway? To Sabrina’s surprise, Katie says that Stacy is jealous of Sabrina because people actually like Sabs and she probably has more friends than Stacy. Randy wonders out loud who would want to be friends with Stacy, then slams down the rest of her lunch and departs with a “later.”
Sabrina thinks that Randy is a difficult girl to figure out, but I think she’s just new and testing the waters to see who’s worth getting to know.
Fast forward to the next day and eighth-period science class. Sabrina’s partner is a kid named Winslow, and he’s your typical weird nerdy kid. I wish we didn’t have that stereotype going on here, but okay. Sabs looks in the microscope and immediately jumps back, screaming that there’s a giant bug! Sabrina. You just looked in a microscope. Get it together!
After school, Sabrina, Katie, and Allison are about to walk home together when Stacy walks up in the crowded hallway and starts reading aloud Sabrina’s self-improvement list. She’s somehow gotten hold of Sabrina’s notebook, and Sabs is humiliated. People are starting to laugh, and Gorgeous Alec is looking on as well. Stacy’s up to number six (be sensitive – irony?) when Randy walks by, casually plucks the notebook out of Stacy’s hands, and tosses it to Sabrina without stopping. Then quiet Allison announces loudly that number fourteen in the Bradley student handbook is “Do not tamper with other people’s property at risk of expulsion.”
Al and Katie walk out with Sabrina, who is trying not to cry. On the one hand, I totally get it. On the other, a self-improvement list shouldn’t be that embarrassing!
Fast forward to Friday after school. Allison and Katie come over to Sabrina’s house, ostensibly for a decorating committee meeting, but I don’t think they’re going to get much work done. Also, Randy declined to attend the “meeting.”
Sabrina is still humiliated that Alec heard her self-improvement list; Katie thinks he’s probably forgotten all about it and Sabs should just ask him out if she wants to go to the dance with him so bad. Sabrina exclaims that guys don’t like girls who chase them! Even though Stacy is chasing him hard and he seems to like her, as Allison points out. Girls. Different guys like different things. They are individuals. Please don’t change your personalities and behavior just to please them.
Then Sabrina decides to take a magazine quiz titled “Is your romance too painful? Take this quiz . . . maybe he isn’t Mr. Right.” Which is kind of hilarious considering she doesn’t even know Alec, and I’m sure that quiz is designed for couples who are actually dating, but sure Sabs. Of course the results are dismal (Allison scored off the charts despite not having a boyfriend, which really makes me wonder what the questions were), and Sabs dramatically announces that she can’t believe Alec isn’t her dream man after all!
They go to the kitchen and pig out on some brownies, prompting Katie to ask about her fruit-only diet, and Sabs tells her that Fridays she can eat whatever she wants because she read that if you gorge yourself on the foods you crave, you won’t crave them any more. Allison doubts the veracity of this, but Sabrina (again, dramatically) announces that she’s what’s known as a chocoholic.
Katie says they should start planning, Sabs agrees and starts saying they need to figure out what they need to get together, which annoys Katie because she says they have everything they need. Allison astutely points out that she doesn’t think they’re talking about the same thing, revealing that Katie was talking about Alec while Sabrina was talking about the decorating stuff. This is kind of cute, but it also seems a little forced. Then Sabrina’s favorite cousin, Kristen, calls, and Sabs talks to her while her friends are still at the house? Rude? Anyway, Sabs recaps the whole book for Kristen, then Kristen tells her she needs to let Alec know she likes him. Then she has to get off the phone before elaborating on how to let him know. I want to roll my eyes at this, but I remember being a kid in school and coming up with all sorts of convoluted schemes to find out if a boy liked me back, so I don’t have much room to scoff, I suppose.
Sabs tells the other girls what her cousin said, and Katie suddenly realizes she knows one of Alec’s friends, Todd, and she’ll just tell him that Sabs is into Alec. They’ll call this Operation Alec. I’m not sure how this is less embarrassing than just asking Alec out, but okay.
Sabrina’s brother Sam comes home with his friends Nick and Jason and they all end up playing basketball together. Sabs thinks about how cute Nick is and how she can totally see why Stacy the Great liked him last year. Despite how cute he is and how much she likes him, Sabrina could never be into Nick because she’s into older men now. Oh, Sabrina. Like there’s so much difference between twelve and thirteen. This time I did roll my eyes, y’all.
Ten bucks says Sabrina goes to the dance with Nick.
Fast forward a couple weeks – only three weeks away from the Homecoming dance now! Sabrina’s stressing about being First Clarinet in the marching band and about the decorating committee. She hasn’t been able to get Randy to participate, so she tracks her down at the lockers, compliments her outfit (a bunch of leopard- and pony-print, um okay Randy), and comments that Acorn Falls must seem really quiet after NYC. Randy gets kind of brusque after the New York comment and runs off before Sabs can ask about the decorating committee.
Then Stacy corners Sabs and tells her something about how disgusting it is that Sabrina played basketball with Nick and she’d better stay away from him. Because God forbid Sabs be friends with a guy Stacy liked last year or something, I dunno. Stacy is the type who thinks you can call dibs on a human being. Even one you’re apparently no longer even interested in. Cool.
Then Randy comes back out of nowhere and calls Stacy a “bingo brain” while telling her to lay off her friend. Sabrina is surprised to hear Randy refer to her as her friend; meanwhile I’m trying to figure out what “bingo brain” means and if I can start using it as an insult in my own daily life. Sabrina thanks Randy for her help and mentions the decorating committee; Randy was glad to help because Stacy annoys the shit out of her, but she declines Sabrina’s invitation to the decorating meeting, claiming she’s not much for decorating and leaving Sabs confused as to if she wants to be friends or not. Personally, I wonder if Randy is wondering if Sabrina really wants to be friends or not, since she only seems to talk to her about the decorating stuff. Maybe invite Randy to hang out just for the sake of hanging out, with no other agenda, and see what happens, Sabs?
Sabrina goes to Fitzie’s (some sort of local teen hangout diner) to meet up with Katie and Allison. She’s wearing her favorite orange and purple vest, and those colors together make my eyes bleed, but if it makes you feel happy to wear it, more power to you, Sabs.
Katie is already in a back booth with someone Sabs assumes is Allison, except when she slides into the booth she realizes it’s not Allison – it’s Sam. He awkwardly runs off, and Sabs starts talking before Katie can tell her that she likes Sam. Turns out Allison had to babysit, so it’s down to just the two of them to come up with a theme for the dance. Umm, you have three weeks to go and you don’t even have a theme? Also, would it really be up to a small group of twelve year olds to come up with the whole theme for the dance?
Anyway, Katie mentions that she has an idea, then corrects herself to say that it was actually Sam’s idea, and Sabs is all, haha NOPE, he’s not even in our homeroom. But then out of curiosity, Sabrina asks what Sam’s idea was, and Katie tells her it was Welcome to the Jungle. Sabrina thinks it’s stupid, and I don’t know what she’s been smoking, because that sounds amazing. After all, we’ve got fun and games. We’ve got everything you need, honey we know the names. We are the people that can find whatever you may need, if you’ve got the money, honey, we’ve got your disease. In the jungle, welcome to the jungle!
I want to thank Katie for giving me that opening even though it was about a million miles away from what she meant. Or . . . was it? This theme was suggested by a twelve-year-old boy in 1989, so . . . I could still be right, guys!
Sam pops back up just in time to ask if Sabs likes his idea and squirts ketchup all over her fries even though she hates ketchup (the book refers to it as “catsup,” which neither I nor my spellcheck will dignify with any legitimacy). Then Nick shows up and he and Sam start pounding their chests like Tarzan. This is the only time I will accept “boys will be boys” as a reason for, well, anything. Thankfully, Nick knows about Sam’s idea for the dance theme, or else this would have been even weirder than it already is. Nick asks if Sabrina likes the idea, but she’s done. She takes off and bumps into Stacy coming into Fitzie’s with Alec. Welp. That sucks, don’t it?
Katie calls Sabrina later that night and tells her she doesn’t think the jungle theme is such a great idea after all, then suggests they meet before school the next day to talk about it. Then she suggests they go to the high school football team’s practice on Saturday morning because Alec and his friends love football and will probably be there, and Katie can talk to Todd about Sabs being in L-U-V with Alec. Again, because this is somehow less embarrassing than talking to him herself.
The girls can’t come up with a workable theme for the dance, so Ms. Staats suggests they use the high school theme of “Lost in Space.” Why wasn’t the teacher assigning the theme in the first damn place? Also: danger, Will Robinson, danger! . . . wait, what do you mean it’s not that Lost in Space? God, this school is boring.
Anyway, Operation Alec commences on Saturday, with Katie and Sabs sitting a few rows behind Alec & Crew on the bleachers. Sabrina is suddenly self-conscious about her pants, but Katie compliments them without Sabs having to tell her how she’s feeling. Katie is an awesome friend. Katie gets up and walks over to the boys, pulling Todd aside. When she’s done talking to him, he says something to Alec, and both boys look up at Sabrina, who’s basically dying at this point. Katie comes back to tell her that now Alec knows she likes him, and the ball’s in his court. Again, how is this less embarrassing than talking to him yourself?!
At school a few days later, Sabrina is in the bathroom and overhears Stacy tell her cohorts that she asked Alec to the dance. Sabs is crushed, and waits for Stacy’s clique to leave before she emerges from her stall. She goes to get decorating supplies to try to put something together for the dance, even though no one else is around to help her (Katie is at flag practice; Allison has to babysit; and Randy is . . . Randy), and ends up literally running into Randy and dropping all her supplies. Randy rudely tells her to watch it and not start in on her about the dance, and Sabrina starts crying despite trying hard not to.
Don’t let anyone tell you Randy doesn’t have a soft side, because she’s immediately concerned, asking Sabrina what’s wrong and then helping her pick up the supplies. She wants to know how Sabs thought she was going to make a space theme with crepe streamers and balloons, then a guy named Spike shows up to talk to Randy. Sabrina thinks he looks like Johnny Depp, and she loves Johnny Depp only slightly less than Tom Cruise. Oh. Oh, Sabrina. No, honey. You deserve to have better crushes.
Sabrina is star struck by Spike, thinking he looks like he could be in a band (spoiler alert – he is), and when he asks if she’s going to the dance she blurts out “yes” without thinking. He says good, then she’ll hear his band play and she suddenly remembers that yes, his band is playing at the dance – he plays guitar and sings in the 9th-grade band, Wide Awake. (What is it with these teen series and their school rock bands? Sweet Valley has the Droids, Girl Talk apparently has Wide Awake. I don’t get it.)
After Spike runs off, Sabrina asks Randy if she’s dating him. She’s not, because she doesn’t believe in all that “couples stuff.” You go, Randy. You don’t need to be half of a couple to be fulfilled. Then Randy starts getting excited about helping with the dance, because she gets the idea to make the gym look like the inside of a space ship, with a smoke machine and “these really cool lights” that she can hook up to her light organ and make flash in time to the music. Neither Sabs nor I have any idea what a light organ is, but we both think it sounds pretty cool. Randy takes off with her skateboard over her shoulder, and Sabrina reflects that Katie and Allison are just going to die when she tells them about Spike!
The day of the Homecoming parade arrives, and Nick tries to talk to Sabrina, who has her clarinet reed in her mouth, wetting it so it doesn’t squeak when she plays. She drops it on the ground, and Nick picks it up for her, knocking her over with his bass drum in the process. It’s all very slap-stick and kind of adorable. Then he asks if she’ll go to the dance with him ( . . . isn’t the dance that night? Talk about last minute, son!) but everyone has to take their places for the parade before Sabs can answer.
Sabrina is torn because she likes Nick, but doesn’t know if she likes him and doesn’t want to mess up their friendship and oh also she’s so totally into older men, you know.
The parade marches through town; the wind kicks up so that the flag girls can’t really perform their routine, which most of them take in stride, but Sabrina notices Stacy the Great looks pissed. She thinks she needs to talk to Katie before giving Nick an answer, but he finds Sabrina at the end of the parade before she finds Katie. Sabs. Just make up your own mind, you don’t need to check in with your friends about every little thing.
Anyway, Nick asks Sabs to the dance again, and she blurts out that she’d love to. Go, Sabrina!
Um, okay, apparently Homecoming is more than one day, because the parade was Friday and now it’s Saturday and the girls are decorating the gym for the dance. I dunno; I’ve never done Homecoming stuff.
Randy is directing the other girls in setting up the lights; it’s revealed that Allison has some knowledge about them and that Randy got the lights from her dad, who is a commercial and rock video director. Katie wants to know if Sabs wants to double date since she’s going to the dance with Sam, then they have some awkward conversation where Sabs is upset because Katie didn’t mention going to the dance with Sam sooner.
Spike shows up; they get everything set up, then Spike asks Sabrina to dance so that Randy can adjust the lights. I’m not sure why that requires dancing, but sure. Randy switches the music to one of Sabrina’s favorite songs, “She Drives Me Crazy” (is this the Fine Young Cannibals song?) and Spike and Sabrina start dancing. Nick and Jason come into the gym carrying some boxes, and Nick turns into a huge asshole, snarling that this doesn’t look like decorating to him, and practically clawing everyone’s eyes out when Sabrina tries to introduce him to Spike. Sabs has no idea what is happening, but I’ve got twenty-five years of experience with toxic males on her. Run away, girl.
The next chapter is a series of phone calls written in screenplay format. I had forgotten that every book in this series has at least one chapter like this!
First up, Nick calls Sabrina and tells her he doesn’t want to go to the dance with her any more, and he’s asked somebody else. Nick is a dick. You can do better, Sabrina.
Then Sabs calls Katie to tell her the news and dramatically announce that she’s not going to the dance at all. Katie realizes that Nick was probably jealous and acting out. Look girls, if your man can’t handle you having male friends, then he ain’t worth shit.
Katie calls Allison next, and Al’s seven-year-old brother, Charlie, answers and asks if she’s a spy before running to get Al. Katie fills Allison in on the sitch, and Allison in turn calls Randy, who says there’s no way she’s letting Sabrina back out of the dance now. So Randy calls Sabrina and tells her to meet her at Randy’s house at six, dismissing Sabrina’s overly dramatic BS and not taking no for an answer. Randy points out that this way Sabrina can hang out with her and Allison and Spike and the band, and Sabs admits that would be cool.
At the dance, Spike’s band is playing dance music, and I am skeptical because I thought this was a rock band, but okay. Sabs spots Katie and Sam, and thinks they actually look pretty cute together. She sees Nick talking to some girl named Eva Malone and thinks that they’re a couple of twerps. LOL middle school insults! Then she sees Alec and Stacy together and wants to die. Stacy mocks Sabrina’s outfit (Randy gave her a New York makeover), but Alec says he likes her stockings. Okay, first of all, they’re leggings, Alec. Secondly, what’s the over-under on a thirteen-year-old boy knowing the term “stockings”?
Sabrina tries to get Randy and Allison’s attention, but they’re too busy messing around with some equipment to notice, so she decides to just leave without telling anyone. Oh, Sabrina.
Suddenly Spike steps up and announces that the next song is dedicated to a special girl – Sabrina! The band starts playing “Crazy for You” (I assume the Madonna song) as the spotlight finds Sabs. Um, this sounds really embarrassing. But then Nick pops up behind Sabrina and asks her to dance since it is her song and all. He explains that he was just jealous when he saw Sabs dancing with “that character” Spike, and he in fact is at the dance alone – he didn’t actually ask anyone else; he was just trying to make Sabs jealous. Well, this sounds like a healthy dynamic and not at all anything you should run screaming away from. Also, is “that character” Spike singing a song like “Crazy for You” to Sabrina really going to assuage Nick’s jealousy? I . . . I would think that would just make things worse.
Anyway, they affirm that they are at least friends; Sabs asks his sign and finds out he’s a Cancer and in fact the guy her horoscope must have been talking about since she prefers him to Alec anyway – any guy who likes Stacy isn’t for her! She notices Alec looking at them with a strange look on his face, and sure. You made a point of having your friend tell his friend to tell him that you like him, and now you’ve stopped paying him any attention! Think what that must have done to his ego!
Sabrina excuses herself to go talk to her friends for a minute, and finds out the dedication was Randy’s idea and Allison found her with the spotlight because she suspected Sabs would try to sneak out. The book ends with Randy throwing an arm around Sabrina and telling her, “Welcome to
the jungle junior high, kiddo.”
Nostalgia Glasses Off
Instead of putting any final thoughts here, I thought I’d do the back-of-the-book survey called “Talk Back!” Along with your info, it wants to know:
- On a scale of 1 (The Pits) to 5 (The Max), how would you rate Girl Talk? : Mmm, I rated this a 4/5 on Goodreads, so I’ll go with 3.75 (rounds to 4) here.
- What do you like most about Girl Talk? Characters/Situations/Telephone Talk/Other : Gotta be the characters. Without likable characters, the situations don’t matter. The telephone talk is a cute device, but definitely not the best thing about the stories. Under “other” I would throw in the positive tween girl friendships. Yay for girls not hating each other arbitrarily!
- Who is your favorite character? Sabrina/Allison/Katie/Randy/Stacy/Other : I’m not a hundred percent sure at this point, but quiet bookworm Allison is in the lead at the moment. I wonder if anyone ever answered “Stacy”?
- Who is your least favorite character? : Hahahaha, Nick at the moment. Toxic “you danced with someone else so I’m going to emotionally punish you for it instead of talking to you about how I feel” bullshit.
- What do you want to read about in Girl Talk? : Oh, definitely a crossover between this and the Friday the 13th franchise. Baby punk Randy could probably just glare Jason into submission.