Recap #62 – Girl Talk #2: Face-Off! by L.E. Blair

girltalk2

Title: Face-Off!

Series: Girl Talk

Author: L.E. Blair

Published: 1990

Tagline: Can Katie beat Scottie at his own game?

Description: Will Katie make the boys’ ice hockey team?

When conservative Katie Campbell decides to quit the flag squad and try out for the boys’ ice hockey team, everyone is shocked! Katie’s friends, Sabrina, Randy, and Allison, tell her to go for it. But Katie’s mother and her sister, Emily, totally disapprove. Plus, Stacy the Great, head of the in-group, and Scottie Silver, the gorgeous captain of the hockey team, are giving Katie a very hard time.

But there’s no stopping Katie – except for the fact that she kind of has a crush on Scottie . . .

Nostalgia Time!


I never read this one as a kid. I started with the one after this one, where Allison briefly becomes a model. Actually, that’s the only one I remember reading, and the only one I have real nostalgia over.

The first book in the series, Welcome to Junior High, did a good job introducing us to the characters. That book was from Sabrina’s point of view; this one is Katie. It’s a little strange being in Katie’s head after previously only seeing her through Sabrina’s eyes, and vice versa. But that’s how a lot of these series worked.

I found myself not liking this one as much as the first book, even though I like Katie quite a bit. This book has some substantial pacing problems, but there are things to like about it.

Also, as soon as I see the name Scottie, all I can hear is this:

 

Recap


We open with Katie Campbell at the ice skating rink, annoyed that Sabrina is pointing out Katie’s sister Emily across the rink. Katie loves her sister, but she’s a lot to live up to – she’s beautiful, captain of the varsity pom-pom squad, a straight-A student, and dating the star quarterback of the high school football team. Katie thinks that Sabs thinks Emily is so wonderful because she only has brothers – four of them, to be exact, including her twin, Sam. You remember Sam, who Katie was sort of interested in in the previous book, but not in this one?

Randy Zak rocks up in her cool New York outfit (zebra-print leggings, black and white mini-skirt, neon green oversized sweater), but she’s not going to skate because her mom wants to take her shopping soon. Sabs isn’t skating, either, because apparently all these kids (and their parents) are perfectly fine paying admission into the skating rink and then sitting around on their asses and not skating. When I was a little younger than these kids, the roller rink was the place to hang out, but I can’t imagine paying to get in and then just sitting around. You can sit around for free literally anywhere else!

Suddenly, I’m feeling very old.

oldmanyellsatcloud
I have a feeling this is going to be me throughout this recap

Katie contrasts Randy’s outfit with her own – jeans that her mom insisted on ironing, a light blue sweater with snowflakes around the collar, and a matching snowflake hat. No earrings for Katie, as her mom won’t let her get her ears pierced until she’s sixteen.

But Katie doesn’t seem too put out about it, commenting to us that she probably wouldn’t dress like Randy even if she were allowed to. As Sabs says, Katie has her own style. She’s the preppy one. With ironed jeans. Who the fuck irons jeans?

Moving on.

Katie does want to skate; it’s just about her favorite thing in the whole world! This is partly due to the fact that her dad was a semi-pro hockey player and taught her to skate. He died about three years ago, when Katie was ten, and her mom refused to let her play hockey after that, because it apparently wasn’t ladylike.

Anyway, this is a new rink, only two years old, and it’s where all the high schoolers, along with most of the seventh and eighth-graders hang out. No word on the ninth-graders, who I assume are part of the junior high. (See the recap of the first book in this series for my rundown of the weird grade groupings in the US in 1990. Or at least in books published in that era.)

Despite the ice being crowded, Katie manages to find a little corner where she can practice flying camels. Flying camels look like this, and I definitely think she would need more room than she’s probably got in a crowded ice rink:

 

Katie is slicing the fuck out of anyone who gets near her.

She starts getting into the rhythm, and despite the music being music her mother would like – you know, the type that makes you want to get earplugs – she thinks the music has a catchy beat. Okay, if Katie is thirteen in 1990, I’m going to assume her mother was a teenager in the late sixties/early seventies, so . . . fuck it, the song playing is “Henry the Eighth” by Herman’s Hermits. Change my mind. (But also, imagine doing camel spins to it. It’s hilarious.)

Stacy the Great, the principal’s spoiled daughter and antagonist of this book series, skates up behind Katie to snark at her about her fancy skating. She also somehow manages to avoid taking an ice skate blade to the throat. See YouTube video above to explain my incredulity at this.

Apparently Katie used to hang out with Stacy, because her best friend, Erica (who has since moved to California) was friends with her, but ever since Erica left, Stacy has been ice-cold (see what I did there?) to Katie. It probably doesn’t help that Katie’s new crowd is made up of people Stacy apparently hates.

Ah, seventh grade politics.

Stacy tries to pull Katie with her to hang out with Scottie Doesn’t Know Silver, but Katie isn’t about to be pulled around by Stacy the Great. She does glance over at Scottie and elucidate over how cute he is, and how he knows it, too. Then she skates over to the snack bar to meet up with Sabrina and Allison.

Sabs is in full Sabrina Mode, practically bouncing out of her skin and insisting Allison tell Katie what she’d just told Sabs. This prime piece of information turns out to be that Scottie was watching Katie skate, OMG!

Okay, I might be slipping back into Grouchy Old Person Mode™. Thinking back, having a cute boy watch you do anything was a Very Big Deal at that age, so . . . carry on, I suppose.

Katie tries to play it cool, but she’s jumping up and down inside. Okay, okay, she’s adorable. She goes back onto the ice to skate some more, and Scottie flies past her, grabbing the hat off her head and racing away. Instinct kicks in, and she chases after him without thinking about it, flying around and around the rink until she catches up close enough to grab him by the belt loop. That seems like a recipe for accidentally(?) pulling his pants down, but instead it trips him up and they crash to the ice, taking down a couple skating in front of them.

Whoops.

As Katie and Allison are putting their shoes on to leave, Stacy rocks up to make snide comments about Katie chasing boys. Because Stacy apparently has no personality traits other than “snotty asshole.”

Walking home, Allison tells Katie that she’s a really fast skater – even faster than Scottie. They part ways, and Katie continues to think about Scottie, and how she feels like something special is about to happen.

When Katie gets home, Emily is setting the table for dinner. The fam sits down to spaghetti, and Emily teases Katie about chasing “that gorgeous little Scottie Silver” around the ice, saying that she didn’t even know Katie liked boys! Not liked boys “yet,” just . . . liked boys at all, presumably. Then Mom gets worried, telling Katie not to play too rough with the boys now that she’s a young lady – she wouldn’t want them to get the wrong idea, would she? Katie’s not sure what she means, but lets it go.

The next morning, Katie gives us a description of her bedroom – wallpaper with little rosebuds; white furniture with gold trim; blue flowered bedspread and blue carpet; bookshelves and stuffed animals; dollhouse that she’s too old for but loves because her dad made it for her.

She pulls out her flag girl uniform, which she tells us is the best part of being a flag girl. She doesn’t really care about it, but does it because Mom and Emily think she should. We also meet Katie’s kitty, Pepper, and find out that Emily hogs the one bathroom in the house.

At school, Sabrina accosts Katie after English, which is somehow also Homeroom, proving again that I simply don’t understand Homeroom. Homeroom should be first thing in the morning, not halfway through the day. Maybe the author is the one who doesn’t understand Homeroom.

Anyway, Sabrina and Co. demand to know everything that happened at the rink, so Katie gives them the short version before Sabs has to run off to meet with a teacher over lunch. Fuck proper nutrition, I guess.

Katie, Allison, and Randy go off to have lunch, and Katie doesn’t know why everyone is making such a big deal about what happened at the skating rink. I’m trying to remember if anything like that would have been a big deal when I was in seventh grade, and I’m coming up with a big “*shrug*

Allison tells Randy what a good skater Katie is, and Randy shrugs that maybe Katie could teach her to skate if she’s going to have to live there all winter. Randy. You’re from New York City. Every movie set in NYC during the winter features at least one scene of people ice skating in Rockefeller Center or Central Park, but I guess ice skating isn’t an NYC thing? Wtf.

And right here I’m starting to identify one of the issues I have with this book (besides its weird pacing problem) – it’s doing a lot of telling rather than showing. Katie tells us that she’s surprised Randy wants her to teach her something, and tells us a story about a project they were partners on, and Randy insisted she knew how to use a saw but ended up sawing Katie’s coffee table right in half! But then she marched right up to Katie’s mom and confessed what happened, offering to buy a new coffee table then and there, but Mom decided she’d rather have the girls do chores to make up for it, and after all that, Katie realized Randy was really all right after all.

I would have preferred to actually see this story play out, but okay.

Allison points out Scottie to Katie, and Katie worries that people are going to think she likes him or something. Hey, remember when someone knowing you liked them was just the most embarrassing thing ever? I gave a boy my phone number in a valentine in fifth grade, which he showed his friends and asked if I liked him or something, and I tried to walk it back by making some bullshit excuse about giving my phone number to lots of people to annoy my mother. Yeah. I wasn’t smooth.

After school, at flag practice, Katie is distracted and accidentally turns the wrong way, kicking a girl in the face. Unfortunately, that girl is not Stacy. Later, in the locker room, Stacy and her friends make fun of the undershirt Katie wears (because she doesn’t need a bra yet), and Eva, one of Stacy’s group, snarks that she guesses they don’t make bras small enough to fit Katie. Man, adolescent girls just can’t win. If you’re the first to get boobs and a bra, you’re made fun of (or called a slut, because that totally makes sense). If you’re the last to need a bra, made fun of. Girls just can’t fucking win.

Katie holds back her tears so that these Mean Girls don’t have the satisfaction of seeing her cry. She goes to the coach’s office and hands in her uniform, then runs out. Coach calls after her, asking what this means; Katie yells back that she quits, then runs out, crying.

Oh, sweetie.

On the walk home, Katie starts panicking about quitting and what Mom and Emily will say. At home, Mom has left a lasagna for the kids because she’s working late. Katie thinks about telling Emily she quit flag squad during dinner, but doesn’t feel like dealing with sisterly advice. After dinner, Katie still needs some comfort food, so she eats some pistachio ice cream. This girl has taste.

Katie calls Sabrina, and Sam answers. Katie tells us she likes Sam, but not the way she thought she did at the beginning of the year. They’re just friends now. Katie tells Sabrina that something happened, and Sabs starts asking if it was bad, because Katie’s horoscope warned about something bad. Katie doesn’t believe in horoscopes, and tells Sabrina about quitting flag squad. Katie’s too embarrassed to go into the whole story involving Stacy’s bullying, but she’s saved by Emily shrieking about Pepper being in her room. Like a typical feline, Pepper always wants to be around the one person in the house who fucking hates cats. Emily refuses to even touch her, and demands Katie come move her every time she gets into her room.

After Mom gets home, Katie is backed into a corner and forced to tell her mom and sister that she quit flag squad. They both overreact, because apparently flag squad is a Very Big Deal that will somehow help Katie later in life and she’ll regret quitting. Okay. I don’t think I’ve ever even been to a school where flag squad was a thing, so you’ll forgive me for not seeing what the big deal is. If it were cheerleading, I could maybe understand a little better, but . . . this is just twirling a flag around in front of the marching band or something, right? Wrong? I don’t know. Anyway, it’s something Katie doesn’t want to do anymore, so it sucks that her family is guilt-tripping her over quitting.

On Friday, the coach calls Katie into her office after gym class and asks her to reconsider quitting flag squad. Like me, Katie has no idea why everyone is making such a big fucking deal about this. She politely declines, stating she doesn’t think she wants to be on the squad right now.

Katie has lunch next, which is kind of weird because I thought she had English/Homeroom right before lunch, but whatever. Sabrina has engineered seating arrangements so that Katie has no choice but to sit facing the table Scottie Doesn’t Know Silver is sitting at with all his jock buddies. Thanks, Sabrina. Katie is glad she brought a cheese sandwich today instead of her usual PB&J, because God forbid Scottie see her eating baby food.

It’s mentioned that it’s already the end of October, time for hockey tryouts, so that means this book takes place almost two months after the first one. I’m guessing time is going to slow down as the series goes forward. Or else we’re going to start repeating years, like Sweet Valley, or the Babysitters Club. (This series had considerably fewer books in it than those, though.)

One of Scottie’s friends, Brian, hears Sabs talking about hockey tryouts, and says that everyone on the team who matters is sitting right there with him and Scottie. Scottie counters that the whole team is sitting in his seat, because he’s the only one who matters. Ah, yes. I can see why Katie likes him. So humble and sweet. *eyeroll*

This leads to Randy scoffing at them and calling them “bingo heads” again, although I’m pretty sure in the first book it was “bingo brain.” She tells them that she knows someone who’s a better skater than all of them, and when Scottie predictably asks who “he” is, Randy blows their minds by saying it’s a “she”! Because thirteen-year-old boys in the 1990s were some of the most sexist creatures around, don’tcha know.

This escalates into Randy announcing that Katie will beat all of them at hockey tryouts, because she’s the best skater to ever skate! This comes as news to Katie, who took a minute to catch up to the fact that Randy was talking about her at all.

Also, I’d like to point out that being a fast skater doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good hockey player. Yes, Katie’s dad did teach her to play hockey, but all that’s been talked about thus far are her skating skills. Randy has no idea if Katie can shoot or pass a puck.

Katie is in shock throughout lunch, only asking Randy how she could do this to her after the bell rings. Randy brushes it off – she did this for Katie! No, honey. You don’t volunteer people without their consent to prove a point.

Katie goes through the rest of the day sure that people are staring and talking about her, then has to meet up with Randy after school to walk to Sabrina’s for a sleepover. Apparently they’re going to her house straight from school. Randy apologizes while still holding her ground on the subject, and Katie is still upset at being volunteered for Randy’s cause. Randy then says she knows Katie quit the flag squad, and doesn’t she think it’s time to stop cheering for the self-centered boys and start proving girls are just as good?

Are there no girls’ sports teams at this school?

Anyway, Katie sort of agrees and her anger subsides while she actually starts getting excited at the idea, even though she’s also terrified. By the time they reach Sabrina’s house, she’s cool with Randy again.

At Sabrina’s house, her brother Sam is there with his friends Nick and Jason (Nick is the boy who Sabrina ended up going to the dance with in the first book, and I still maintain that he’s a toxic, jealous little shit), and they all order pizzas. Katie thinks that Allison has a crush on Jason, but Allison maintains that boys don’t interest her. Man, the way the author keeps phrasing this is giving me false hope for some queer girl representation that I know isn’t going to happen here.

The boys start laughing and asking about the rumor that Katie is trying out for the boys’ hockey team, and Sabs answers that of course she is, then the girls all head upstairs to her room. Fuck Katie getting to answer for herself, I guess.

They talk about boys for a while, then change into their PJs, even though I don’t think it can be all that late yet. Katie has a flannel nightgown and matching slippers that her mom bought her specifically for sleepovers, and she’s afraid the other girls will laugh at them, but everyone’s cool and asks where she got them. Yeah, because they’re your friends, and they support you, Katie. This is what friendship should look like.

They play some games, and by the time they go to bed (unrealistic – I never went to sleep at sleepovers, come on), Katie feels that all is right with the world again. Her words.

Saturday morning after breakfast, the girls all go to the mall, then split up with the agreement to meet up for a movie later. Katie goes into a store that sounds like a bootleg Hot Topic and very much not her scene, but whatever. While she’s checking out the clearance rack and kind of hidden behind it, she hears two of Stacy’s minions, Eva and B.Z., talking about her trying out for the hockey team. Then they say that Stacy will get the full story from Scottie since she’s going out with him that night.

Katie’s bummed, and tells her friends what happened when she meets back up with them. Sabrina tries to cheer her up by reminding her that any guy who likes Stacy can’t be right for them. Randy chimes in that back in New York (which Katie tells us is Randy’s favorite phrase) people don’t have the same sexist attitude, and Scottie would have been taken down for what he said. Then she says they need to teach people in this backwards town how to act, which the girls take a little personally since they were born and raised in this “backward” town. Way to go, Randy. To her credit, she realizes what she said and apologizes immediately.

They enjoy the movie, but Katie thinks it makes Randy homesick since it’s set in New York. I think we’re already foreshadowing Randy’s book, even though we’ve got Allison’s up next. Anyway.

On Sunday, Katie and Randy go to the frozen lake in the park so Katie can teach Randy to skate. Randy’s not very good, even though she’s super coordinated on her skateboard, she’s extremely uncoordinated on skates. She ends up finding it easier to skate backwards, so they work on that before parting with the promise of more skating lessons next week.

Monday after school are the hockey tryouts. Sabrina has brought Katie one of her older brothers’ old hockey skates, which sounds like a bad idea. Will those fit her? You shouldn’t skate in the wrong size skates! To compound the issue of ill-fitting wares, Katie has decided it’s time she starts wearing a bra, so borrowed one of her sister’s old ones. Yeah . . . that’s a thing you really need to be properly sized in. Most women are wearing the wrong size anyway, because we’ve been lied to about what bra sizes look like. (The A Bra That Fits subreddit and sizing calculator is very helpful in that regard, btw.)

The coach, Coach Budd (lol), demands to know what Katie is doing there, and tells her he’s trying to hold tryouts and the rink’s free skate session is tomorrow. Katie digs up the courage to tell him she’s trying out, and he gets annoyed, telling her this is a boys’ sport and there will never be a girl on the boys’ hockey team.

Cue my girl Allison, shy, quiet Allison, jumping in and quoting Title IX at Budd, informing him that he’d be breaking the law by not letting Katie tryout. Allison, I love you.

Coach has to allow it, but he’s not thrilled. He tells Katie to get suited up, so she starts following the boys until Scottie scoffs that she can’t come in with them – they’re going in the boys’ locker room. Katie is embarrassed and looks around for a girls’ locker room (there is none, but like, wouldn’t there be a bathroom she could change in . . . ?), then one of Scottie’s friends who doesn’t seem like a total jackass, Flip, tells her where the visitors’ locker room is.

She can’t find the light switch and has to change in whatever light is coming in through the tiny window. She decides to take off the bra, since it doesn’t fit and has been bunching up on her all day, but she struggles to get it off, finally slipping the straps down and turning the band around so she can unhook it from the front.

Katie gears up and skates out to meet the others, but the coach blows the whistle and asks what’s up with her uniform. Scottie tells her to look behind her, and when she does, she discovers the bra is hanging off the back of her shirt. Oh, sweetie. Coach is surprisingly kind to her, and tells her to go back to the visitors’ locker room and finish changing.

Once in the locker room, Katie collapses in humiliation on a bench. Luckily her friends follow her to support her and convince her to skate back out there. There’s laughter when she does, but the coach yells at everyone to shut up – this isn’t a joke; it’s a tryout!

Okay, the coach might not be so bad a guy.

They run a bunch of drills that wipe Katie out, but she figures it’s okay because the guys all seem exhausted, too. Coach Budd compliments everyone on good skating and dismisses them until tomorrow.

Katie & Co decide to go to Fitzie’s, the local hangout, and when they get there Scottie’s group and Stacy’s group are hanging out by the jukebox, at the Cool Kid table. Is this the diner from Happy Days? This might be the diner from Happy Days. If the Fonz shows up, it’s confirmed.

Our girls have to take a table close to the Cool Kid Table, and Stacy and Eva immediately start in on Katie. Eva tells her it looks like she needs lessons in how to wear a bra, which is just such weak mockery, omg. Then Scottie tells Katie that they were just being nice today, and wait til they start playing tough. Katie decides to leave, and as she passes, someone says something about her getting what she deserves.

Yes, hello? Please remind me again why Scottie is a viable love interest here?

At home, Emily tells Katie how mad Mom’s gonna be when she finds out she’s trying out for the hockey team, and sure enough, Mom walks in the door mad because someone at the supermarket told her about it. She’s also calling Katie “Katherine,” which is Very Bad News.

Mom goes on to say didn’t she warn Katie about playing rough with boys, then forbids her from playing. Katie, who is usually very calm, starts getting worked up and ends up crying while almost-yelling that she’s trying out; she doesn’t want to be a flag girl just because Mom and Emily want her to be, and furthermore, Dad would have wanted her to try out for hockey. Then she runs upstairs and slams her door shut.

A few minutes later Mom comes in and says that she wishes Katie had at least told her what she was planning, because hearing about it from a third party was a shock. And I suppose that’s fair. I’m actually pretty sure parents have to sign a form before kids can try out for sports teams? I dunno. I was in band. Anyway, Mom says that Katie knows how she feels about it, so sleep on it.

Katie goes to tryouts on Tuesday, which are pretty much the same as Monday except she can actually see to change because someone already had the lights on in the locker room.

On Wednesday tryouts, Coach puts Katie in the same scrimmage group as Flip, Scottie’s not-totally-a-jackass friend. He quietly tells her to watch her back, but it’s more of a warning, not a threat. This of course makes Katie even more nervous about whatever hazing the boys have planned. If this were a Lifetime movie, I would be very worried. Since it’s a middle-grade G-rated book for preteen girls, I am less worried.

During the scrimmage game, all the boys in Scottie’s little cabal target Katie – hip checks, running her into the boards, tripping her up and sending her to the ground every chance they get. The coach never calls a single penalty, which is bullshit. Maybe I take back what I said about him being sort of okay.

The ganging up and coach looking the other way makes Katie even more determined not to give up. Aw, I love her. I love it when people think they can scare someone off, and then that someone turns out to have a solid steel core of determination and stubborness. Katie plays harder than ever, taking shots on goal herself since even her own team isn’t bothering to help her out. Fine, don’t get the assist, losers!

When tryouts are over, Katie can barely move, she’s so sore. She manages to get changed, then goes back into the rink, where all the spectators have been run off and Coach Budd is giving a speech about how good everyone did, and even those that won’t make the team should be proud of their skill.

Katie gets her stuff and goes outside, struggling to carry all her shit with her aching body. Scottie rocks up to tell her she better stop acting like a wimp if she wants to play a man’s game, and Katie is done with his shit. She tells him that he’s the wimp; he was so scared she’d show him up that he had to beat her up out there. Then she says he can’t stop her no matter what he does, and Randy was right – he can’t stand the idea that a girl could be better than him, but he better get used to it!

Scottie doesn’t say anything, just stands there staring at Katie. She thinks he’s in shock, but then he leans in and kisses her on the cheek. Then his mom shows up and he runs to get in her car.

As she walks home, Katie tries to figure out what the blue fuck just happened. She thinks that a boy who likes you and kisses you shouldn’t treat you the mean way Scottie’s been treating her, which is a good instinct. It is, of course, overshadowed by the fact that Katie likes him and it’s the early 1990s, when “he’s mean because he likes you” was the bullshit we had drilled into us from the first time a boy hit us or pulled our hair.

At home, Katie gets a call from Sabrina. Sabs starts off talking shit about what an asshole Scottie is, then does a full 180 after Katie tells her about the kiss. Way to stick to your guns, girls. They gush for a while; Katie makes Sabs promise not to tell their other friends yet; we’re told tomorrow they announce who made the team. Apparently the kiss from Scottie almost made Katie forget all about hockey.

So. We’ve got a little over 20 pages left in this book, and we’re only now getting to the love interest and the hockey team. This book has a serious pacing issue.

Katie makes the team, of course. All day long, people congratulate her, including teachers, and the gym teacher (for some reason gym class is the last class of the day today, instead of right before lunch like it was earlier in the book) tells her she’s been telling Coach Budd for years that he should let girls try out. Um, according to Title IX, girls have been allowed to try out since 1972. I guess they just weren’t publicizing it.

After school, Katie sits out on the lawn to enjoy the sun, and Randy shows up. She tells her about Scottie kissing her, but she thinks he did it by mistake. Randy asks how you kiss someone by mistake; pucker up, lean over and plant one, then realize you actually meant to punch them or something? I mean, y’all are like 12 and 13 years old; there are a lot of hormones doing all sorts of new and weird things right now. Most of the people you kiss at this age will be a mistake.

Randy asks Katie what she likes about Scottie besides his looks, and Katie gets flustered and can’t name a single thing. Which is pretty telling, if you ask me. Seriously, if you can’t think of a single personality trait you like about the person you “like,” I’ve got some bad news for you.

At home, Mom apologizes for not listening to Katie. She’s not happy about any of it, but she understands that hockey means a lot to Katie, so she won’t stop her from playing. Katie sort of sheepishly announces that she made the team, and they hug. Mom maybe seems proud, if not actually happy.

The next chapter is the patented Girl Talk telephone talk chapter, where characters call each other and it’s written in screenplay format. It’s a gimmick that honestly wears thin after a while.

First up, Scottie calls Katie to make sure she knows the game starts at 3 and she should be there by 2:15. Since the coach already made sure everyone knew this, Katie can’t figure out why Scottie is telling her, because Katie has zero experience with boys. Frustrated that Katie is confused by his confusing behavior, Scottie tells her it’s not like she’ll be playing anyway, and hangs up.

Next, Katie calls Sabrina and tells her about the phone call with Scottie. Suddenly he’s back to being a jerk and Katie has no idea how he got her phone number. Probably the same way I got the phone number of people in my class back then – the phone book. Although there are probably multiple Campbells listed, so he probably just asked someone who already had her number. Anyway, Sabrina almost seems to grasp why Scottie called, but then doesn’t.

Next up, Sabrina calls Allison, whose little brother Charlie answers. Sabs tells Allison about Scottie calling Katie, and my girl Allison knows what’s up – she says he likes Katie and was probably shy, so he made up a reason to call Katie, then got embarrassed and was mean to her. Which is a shitty way to act, but it is the believable explanation. (I’m not saying “he’s mean because he likes you” never happens; I’m saying that we need to teach kids that it’s an unacceptable way to behave. And also my 5th grade bully absolutely in no way liked me. You don’t bully someone you like so hard that they become suicidal at 10 years old, y’all.)

Then Allison calls Randy and tells her about Scottie liking Katie; then Sabrina calls Katie again to run Allison’s “Scottie likes you” theory past her. Katie is incredulous, partly because they think Stacy is dating Scottie, and partly because Sabs adds to the theory and now thinks that Scottie actually called Katie to ask her out after the game. She tells Katie to trust her, she knows about these things, even though it was Allison who had to break it down for her. LOL never change, Sabs.

And we’re finally at the day of the big game, with 8 pages left in the book. Seriously, I cannot stress enough how weird the pacing is in this book.

Katie goes to Sabrina’s house that morning to calm her nerves before the game, and also because Sabrina’s dog, Cinnamon, just had puppies. PUPPIES!!! Anyway, Katie fixes herself some cereal after turning down the eggs Sabs is making. She’s offered a puppy, but her mom will never agree. Sabrina knows this, so her family came up with the idea that Katie can name the little grey one and they’ll pretend it’s hers, it’ll just live with Sabs. That’s a really cute solution. I love the friendships in these books.

At the rink, Katie has to change in the coach’s office since the visitors’ locker room is being used by, you know, the visiting team. When she’s done, the team is already heading out to the ice, and she pauses to look at the defensive strategy on the board, since the other guys got to actually be coached before the game. She figures she probably won’t be playing so it doesn’t matter, but I’m pissed. She’s part of the team; she needs to know the plays and strategy.

In this next section, I’ve realized that the author doesn’t actually know hockey as well as it seemed earlier, because they talk about “halftime.” There . . . isn’t halftime in hockey. There are three periods with two intermissions. Welp, that’s a big ol’ fail.

Anyway, during the first “half” (this is really going to bug me now) both teams are doing well, and Katie is playing the illustrious position of benchwarmer. During “halftime” she’s allowed into the locker room so the coach can go over some plays with the whole team. Finally, Coach decides to coach the whole team.

Then we’re told that about 15 minutes into the last period, the score is tied 1-1. Now, I’d like to take the opportunity to point out that in high school (I couldn’t find any rules or regs for junior high), hockey periods are usually only 15 minutes long. Sometimes 17, but definitely not a full 20, like adult games. Also, I really wonder how many periods the author thinks hockey has.

Okay. Moving on.

Brian, Scottie’s asshat friend, gets injured and taken off the ice, and Katie doesn’t know what they’re going to do since he’s the only left-wing. Then she realizes that’s the position Coach kept having her play in practice (have we had practices? did that just get skipped over in the text?), so she gets put in to play. The other team has the puck, so Katie doesn’t get near it for a couple minutes, meaning this period should be past 17 minutes at this point and they should be heading into overtime. (Sudden Death, baby!) But no, with a minute left in the game (so the author definitely thinks hockey periods in school are 18+ minutes, minimum), Katie gets the puck. She fakes out the opposing team and is able to pass to Scottie, who slapshots that fucker right into the net, winning the game just as the “bell” sounds. Nobody who’s ever heard a horn go off in hockey would describe it as a bell, but whatever.

We won!

While Katie is waiting for the opposing team to leave so she can use the locker room for a shower, Coach calls her into his office and compliments himself on her performance, saying he knew he picked a winner when he put her on the team. Mmkay, guy. Katie is surprised he actually thinks she’s any good; she thought he’d put her on the team just to avoid legal troubles. I mean, you stole the puck and got the game-winning assist on goal, Katie. You’re good, okay?

Outside the rink, Scottie flags Katie down and compliments her on her mad hockey skillz. He apologizes for being obnoxious on the phone the night before, then stutters and stumbles asking Katie if she wants to go to Fitzie’s with him. She says she can’t because she’s going with her friends, but Sabs jumps in to tell her they’ll go on ahead and meet her there, leaving her free to “go” with Scottie.

Stacy overhears this and whines at Scottie, who doesn’t take his eyes off Katie as he tells Stacy he’ll see her there. Stacy flounces off in a huff with her crew; Sabs and their crew take off to leave Scottie and Katie alone; Scottie offers to carry Katie’s gear but she stops him and says she can handle it. Cue 90’s sitcom-style freeze frame of them laughing together at this wit.

Nostalgia Glasses Off


This is a cute series, but I can’t get over the bad pacing, toxic boys, and lack of hockey knowledge in this entry. It’s amazing how much filler there was in a 120-page book, and then when we actually got to the hockey-related story, which was ostensibly the plot of the book, it was rushed through in a few pages.

And this boy, who was shown trying to PHYSICALLY INJURE Katie, still gets to be the love interest and be swooned over. What the fuck kind of message does that send. Do better.

Overall, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did the first in the series, or as much as I know I do the next one. Here’s looking forward to my girl Allison and The New You!

 

 

8 thoughts on “Recap #62 – Girl Talk #2: Face-Off! by L.E. Blair

  1. “Sabs isn’t skating, either, because apparently all these kids (and their parents) are perfectly fine paying admission into the skating rink and then sitting around on their asses and not skating.”

    Where I lived, we didn’t pay to get into the rink, only if you actually skated. Which was good, because it was one of the few places to hang out prior to getting our licenses and I don’t skate, so I could still be there.

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    1. Decided I should probably just keep a window open with the comment box so I can add things as I read.

      “Anyway, this is a new rink, only two years old, and it’s where all the high schoolers, along with most of the seventh and eighth-graders hang out. No word on the ninth-graders, who I assume are part of the junior high.”

      I always assumed part of high school in this series, since my school was an outlier in having ninth grade in the junior high.

      “She pulls out her flag girl uniform, which she tells us is the best part of being a flag girl.”

      This is the thing that always makes me think the authors are writing more about schools when they were kids than schools when they were publishing, because by the time this book came out, it was usually called color guard and if the marching band was serious business, so was the color guard. And the uniforms were more like costumes to fit each year’s theme. Hell, I did a winter guard routine in a full suit one year. Like jacket, button down shirt, sharp trousers. The only concession to it being for a routine was dance shoes.

      “If it were cheerleading, I could maybe understand a little better, but . . . this is just twirling a flag around in front of the marching band or something, right? Wrong? I don’t know.”

      Oh. My. God. What. the. Hell.

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      1. Okay, I’ve let go of my Wing Goes Boom moment over color guard.

        “Because thirteen-year-old boys in the 1990s were some of the most sexist creatures around, don’tcha know.”

        Well, based on the response when I merely considered trying out for the American football team and when we got our first female wrestler, yeah, they were.

        You make such good points about Randy voluntelling Katie RE hockey.

        “Cue my girl Allison, shy, quiet Allison, jumping in and quoting Title IX at Budd, informing him that he’d be breaking the law by not letting Katie tryout. Allison, I love you.”

        She’s the best, and I love her so much.

        “Randy asks how you kiss someone by mistake; pucker up, lean over and plant one, then realize you actually meant to punch them or something?”

        Randy, stop talking about my love life like that.

        “And also my 5th grade bully absolutely in no way liked me. You don’t bully someone you like so hard that they become suicidal at 10 years old, y’all.”

        Damn, that’s horrifying. I’m sorry you went through that.

        “And this boy, who was shown trying to PHYSICALLY INJURE Katie, still gets to be the love interest and be swooned over. What the fuck kind of message does that send. Do better.”

        I even like romantic relationships that start out antagonistic, but it’s handled so badly in so many books, including this one.

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      2. Damn, Wing LOL

        Yeah, I got to thinking that there *must* be rinks that let you hang out without paying admission; I just don’t think I’ve encountered any in my life.

        Every junior high I’ve encountered in media or my mom’s stories (it was middle school, 6-8th grade in my town by the time I was that age) is 7-9, then senior high is 10-12. I’m really surprised that was an considered an outlier in your area! I was always led to believe it was the norm, at least pre-1990s-ish.

        I take it I was aggressively wrong about flag squad/color guard. I don’t know! I didn’t go to normal high school! I never encountered it! LOL Still, duly noted.

        There was zero sarcasm when I called boys in the 90s the most sexist creatures to exist. I think it’s really cool there were girls (including you) pushing back on it.

        Allison really is the fucking best, isn’t she?!

        RE: My 5th grade experience: Thank you. It was a bad year, but things eventually got better.

        The love interest boys in this series so far are garbage; toxic, jealous, possessive, passive-aggressive little shits. I forgot how bad they were, holy shit.

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      3. Liz is a Fat Virgin

        The only time I’ve seen a color guard was in Pasadena, but then everything there revolves around the parade. There’s a whole drama about the Rose Court that every single high school girl in LA tries out for…. It’s straight out of Sweet Valley.

        The boys in this series are fucking awful – and so true to the era. Do so much better publishing *sigh* Enemies to lovers is a thing but this is NOT IT. (I’m picturing Brittany Snow as Kate looking into the camera to tell John Tucker that he’s not that great.)

        I ugly laughed at your line about all kisses at this age being mistakes.

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      4. Oh wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone reference John Tucker Must Die before! Kudos! Yes, the boys in this series are . . . Eeeeeeh. Lol

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      5. Liz is a Fat Virgin

        Honestly… Not one series has a good love interest. I’m amazed that I grew up with healthy relationship standards despite being inundated with garbage…

        I love John Tucker Must Die. Not sure that it passes the Bechdel test but yay girls being friends with *four* main characters.

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  2. Liz is a Fat Virgin

    This is one of the books I owned. Blonde athlete! It me! (Not that I, a blonde Californian, was hurting for representation in this era.) Title IX being name checked! LOVE.

    I remember random things about this series, but the Randy sawing the table in half stuck lol. That really should have been in the plot.

    I love Katie finding iron resolve and fucking shit up. “Katie plays harder than ever, taking shots on goal herself since even her own team isn’t bothering to help her out. Fine, don’t get the assist, losers!” and hockey counts two assists, so you’re all bingo brains or whatever!

    WTF is up with Katie not being included in the coaching? I played football and I did have to go change elsewhere (escorted by a coach or mom) but as soon as the all clear was given, I was in the locker room with the rest of the team before the game.

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