Thursday, March 6, 2014

Girl Talk #7: Odd Couple

By L.E. Blair. Published 1990.

Randy is copying sentences in detention with the other regulars one day, when she’s surprised to see Mark Wright walk in. He’s a straight A student, captain of the basketball team, piano playing, perfect kind of guy. Randy gives him a little gentle teasing, and he gets pissed. They get into it a bit, and both get in trouble. He is not Randy’s favorite person at the moment.

They get a new health teacher, Ms. Nelson, who used to be a model in New York. Randy likes her because she dresses all in black. Everyone else just likes her because she’s nice and cool.

She assigns their big project, the one that every YA series and TV series does, but I’ve never actually heard of being done. The egg/baby challenge. Did anybody ever actually do this? I’m curious.

Sabrina gets paired up with her brother, Sam, and she’s pretty pissed about it. Katie’s paired with Winslow Bartlett, who’s a nerd. How could he not be, with that name? There are an uneven number of boys and girls, so Allison volunteers to be a single mother. And Randy, of course, is paired with Mark Wright. Why else would he be introduced?

Mark could not seem less interested. He doesn’t show up to pick up their egg, and then when Randy does get to talk to him, he says she can keep it for as long as she feels like it, and then he’ll take it. And he’s all pissy about it. Everyone’s surprised, because he’s such a good student. Obviously something’s wrong, but that doesn’t occur to anyone.

The other girls aren’t having the easiest time with their partners either. Sam keeps pretending to drop and lose their egg, driving Sabrina crazy. Winston overloads Katie with egg facts, and barely lets her contribute. Allison is doing okay, she makes a papoose for her egg, to live up to her stereotype since there’s no one else to hold it.

Mark continues to be grumpy, and then doesn’t live up to his end of the bargain. One day Randy gets asked to go with Sam and his friends to a new skate park, and she’s really excited about it, but she knows that’s no place for an egg. So she asks Mark to take it, but he flat-out refuses. Randy is pissed, and goes home instead of the park. She talks with her mom, and realizes parents give things up for their kids. But she knows the difference is that parents love their kids. She has no such feelings for her egg.

Then one day, out of the blue, Mark starts being all nice again. Randy’s not sure why, but she’ll take it.

While studying together one day, Allison sheds some light on Mark’s moodiness. She’s learned his parents are getting divorced. That might have something to do with it. Randy definitely understands that.

She decides she’ll talk to him about it on Monday. She does, and they have a nice moment. And she likes she Mozart he was playing.

The egg project is over, and since it was a success, Ms. Nelson announces they’ll have a party on Friday after school. Ms. Nelson asks for volunteers to talk about their experiences. Randy gets up and talks about how even though divorce changes everything, it can be okay. Mark whispers a thank you.

Randy and Allison decide that the party should be at Randy’s house, which is a converted barn, if you’ll remember. Allison and Sabrina make an egg-shaped cake, while Katie and Randy put up Easter egg decorations. All the girls wear only white, to complete the egg theme.

Everyone has a good time. Mark and Randy bond some more over having to get used to new rooms. Turns out the day that he blew Randy off on taking the egg, Mark and his mother were moving, and so he couldn’t have taken care of it.

The party, and the book, ends with a cake fight outside.

o   Randy compares Bradley Junior High to her school in New York a lot. Apparently her old school had barely any rules. They mainly worked on independent projects. Once for math class, Randy just had to draw illustrations for a report on Women in Mathematics. I would have totally been down with that.

o   Nobody ever names their egg. Every other time I’ve seen it done, they’ve made a big deal out of naming them and choosing the gender. But the girls all do feel weird about eating eggs.

Stacy the Great cheats, and hard-boils her egg. The whole class knows, but nobody tells on her

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