Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's Hard Out Here For a Tomboy or: 2 Young 2 Go 4 Boys

Story Order: #3
Publication Order: #4 (1988)
Time Covered: 5th Grade

Oh, I thought this day would never come!!! We have reached the light at the end of the prequel tunnel and are about to embark through the third, final, and best prequel in the Linda Berman series, the cutely titled, 2 Young 2 Go 4 Boys.

This book was published after We Love Only Older Boys (Linda's 8th grade year) and before she entered high school. And odd place, but an interesting one, after you see what eventually happens.

Plot Summary
It’s the first day of school and Linda is walking by herself. She owes this to the fact that she is Tomboy, and that is the cause of all her problems. On her walk, we learn that Danny Kopler entered junior high and Teddy Pappas already moved. Linda is all alone. (Um, what about Billy Upton?)

Luckily, bubbly (but not Tomboyish) Suzy Kletzel and her little brother show up to walk with Linda. Suzy informs her of who will be in their class. First, there’s spoiled Lisa Finklestein and her sycophant Sue-Ann Fein, both of whom Linda doesn’t like. Then there’s Harley Silver and Kenton Wolfson, the two babes of class 5-2 at P.S. 373. Next Jeff Davidson, a boy from Suzy's building. And worst of all, Marvin Haven a “creep” who lives in Linda’s building.

Linda gets in trouble on the first day of school, due to Marvin. Then she has trouble writing her “The Best Thing That Happened to Me This Summer” composition due to those irritating twins! Linda decides to write about the tree climbing contest from The Tomboy Terror in Bunk 109. Marvin then challenges Linda to a tree-climbing contest. However, before Marvin gets his chance to climb, the fuzz breaks it up. The girls are still impressed by Linda’s mad tree climbing skills.

The next day, the class gets a new girl: Darlene Mason, a red-headed, over developed beauty. Her figure causes quite a stir and Linda is too uncomfortable to sit next to her, so Darlene is seated on the other side of Suzy. At first Linda thinks she’s stuck up and is angry when she starts walking to school with them.

Yeah, I'd be intimidated

By the Halloween party, the three are very good friends. At the party, everyone has to act out a skit involving their costume. Darlene is a ballerina and starts performing a dance. Then Marvin shouts that Darlene’s armpits need a shave. In retaliation, Darlene pours punch over his head and runs off. Linda and Suzy follow her to her apartment and get the punch stain out of her mother’s tutu.

Jump to Christmas. The fifth grade class is in charge of putting on play. Linda and Suzy go to Darlene’s house to work on it. Darlene admits to liking Harley Silver and imagines dancing with him while listening to her Elvis records. Suzy then confesses to liking Kenton Wolfson. Linda is appalled. Suzy and Darlene are amused because, ofs course Linda will like boys eventually.
I closed my eyes for a moment and imagined that song being sung to me. Not by Elvis, but by a boy my age. He was handsome, smart, funny, and good at sports. But more than that, this boy was interested in me not as someone he could play ball with but as a girlfriend…At that moment, I actually wished I had a boyfriend to go mushy over and to have him go mushy over me. I couldn’t believe it!
Linda, Suzy, and Darlene’s play, “The Strike at Santa’s Workshop”, is chosen and Linda desperately wants the part of Rudolph, but instead it goes to Jeff. Linda tries to kiss ass the teacher so she’ll get promoted to Rudolph. (Oh, kids and their logic!) While working on the set, Jeff playfully makes fun of Suzy being chubby like a beach ball. (Oh, kids and their cruelty!) Then Marvin joins in to make fun of Linda for being (what else?) a Tomboy.

In a fit of rage, Linda throws paint at Marvin and it lands on the Christmas tree. Jeff keeps her from dumping the whole can on his head. Then he sticks up for her, telling the teacher it was just an accident. (Oh, cute fictional boys and their chivalry…) Still, Jeff is playing Rudolph, so he remains the enemy.

However, Linda’s brown nosing worked and she’s offered the role of understudy and lucky for her, Jeff comes down with a sore throat. Linda goes to his apartment to pick up the costume and is there long enough to catch his bug. Jeff gets better and plays Rudolph while Linda gets sick all vacation long.

During the first snowfall, Jeff throws a snowball at Linda’s window and taunts her. This moves Jeff to the top of Linda’s hate list. At the beginning of February, another big snow comes and she decides to take her revenge on Jeff.
I could see he was angry, so I took off running through the snow. I would have gotten away from him too, if I hadn’t slipped on an icy spot and fallen to my knees. That was the chance Jeff needed. He took a flying leap and landed on top of me. It was a very awkward position to be in.
Ira and Joey find them and begin taunting them. Linda escapes from Jeff and she and her friends hide in the ladies room. Suzy and Darlene yak on and on about the gloriousness of being in Ken’s and Harley’s respective embraces.

Later on Valentine’s Day, Linda receives a mystery snowball shaped card saying:

Snowballs are white,
But turn you black and blue.
Did you know that Tomboys,
 Can fall in love too?

Meanwhile, Linda and creepy, geek Steven Warshinsky are story-telling partners and perform a story for the first graders. Linda is appalled to learn that a little girl has a crush on her brothers. But worst of all, Suzy plans on having a co-ed party with dancing and Spin the Bottle!!! Linda insists that the boys will hate it and Darlene insists they will change their minds.

Suzy’s party is formal, meaning Linda has to buy a new dress, which she is quite pissed about. As she’s changing, she realizes she is growing boobs. The day of the party arrives and Linda is the last to arrive and everyone makes a big deal about her skirt…especially Jeff. When he tries to lift up it up (that little perv!) Linda punches him right in the face, making him bleed all over the carpet.

Suzy’s mom calms Linda down, cleans the rug, and ices Jeff’s nose. Then she insists that the two make up. They agree to a truce and then Mrs. Kletzel decides that Linda and Jeff should be the first pair to start dancing.

“I guess we’d better do as she says,” said Jeff, with a feeble smile.
“I guess,” I shrugged weakly.
Before I knew what was happening, Jeff was holding me in this awkward dancing position. He began sort of pushing me across the carpet…once we got used to it, it wasn’t so bad to dance with Jeff. For one thing, I enjoyed the dirty looks Sue-Ann was throwing me…this made me laugh and relax more in Jeff’s arms…Once again I began to wonder what it would be like to have a boyfriend and be in love. I looked up and saw Jeff’s face so close to mine and this little shiver went through my body. This frightened me. I pulled away from him but he didn’t notice. At that moment, the record ended…
After dancing, Suzy brings up Spin the Bottle. Sue-Ann urges Jeff to play and Linda’s new found, confusing jealousy forces her to dissuade the boys from playing sissy, kissing games. The boys come to their senses and refuse. All the girls turn on Linda, leaving her to walk home alone and cry to her mom and dad. Her parents explain that she’s asking for it, with her tough, Tomboy attitude. The next day, Linda apologizes to Suzy and Darlene and even admits to having “weird feelings” about kissing. Her friends forgive her.

Subtle, Arch.

Finally, in June, Linda plays in a basketball game against Jeff. He accidentally trips her and she falls on her face. He offers his hand to her and she takes it. While holding onto Jeff’s hand, Linda admires his physical attributes.
For a moment, I felt as if I’d been transported back to Suzy’s party. I was dancing in his arms again, staring into his eyes. But this time he bent down and kissed me softly on the lips. I felt my body shiver again. Then I became aware of what was going on around me in the gym. Sue-Ann had turned as white as sheet. Then Harley yelled out, “That’s love for you!”
Linda realizes that, yes, the love bug has indeed bitten her. From then on, she is absolutely love crazy for Jeff. On the last day of school, Linda cleans out her desk and discovers her snow ball valentine. She realizes that the hand writing matches Jeff’s and that he must like her a little bit! Still, the only way he shows her is to dump papers on her head.
“I’ll get even with you, Jeff Davidson, if it takes me the whole next school year to do it.”
“I can’t wait until you try,” he whispered back.
OMG, me neither!

This is what a prequel should be. Honestly, I consider 2 Young to be a part of the real series, especially since it flows so nicely into the next book. It was actually my best friend Ashley who told me about it. I was going on and on about We Hate Everything But Boys when she told me that she had previously checked out this book from our library. So I checked it out and never returned it. (Tee hee hee). Since it ended with Linda falling into the same traps as her friends, Ashley didn’t like it because she was an actual Tomboy who was too young too go for boys.

After two useless prequels, we finally get to what’s important: Linda’s transition from boy befriender to boy lover. It's a slow change, taking the entire school year. I really like that it takes the whole year too. Linda is so dead set against romance, that it would take a long time for her to realize she is just like everyone else.

The first boy Linda Berman likes is Jeff Davidson. Here's a secret: I'm not one of those girls that falls in love with literary characters. Not Mr. D'Arcy. Not Edward Cullen. The closest I've ever come is Jeff Davidson, but that's because he reminded me of my 5th grade crush...they even looked similar...and acted similar.

I really like how Jeff Davidson is so unassuming at first. He's just another boy in the class. Our first real introduction to him is when he defends Linda during the paint throwing incident. He's so levelheaded and mature at that could she not like him? Of course, Jeff is a 5th grade boy and prone to moments of assholism, like making fun of Suzy or pushing Linda's face into the snow. And thus, the roller coaster begins...

You make me laugh, you make me cry,
I don't know which side to buy...

Tomboy is a powerful label. At least it was when I was kid, and long before my time. It commands respect. Depending on your outlook, it represents power. It means boys like you. They actually like hanging out with you. You for you! Girly girls don't. They are judgmental and jealous because you're the one the boys like best. At least, for a little while.

Braids? Check.
Jeans? Check.
Adorable toughness? Check.

A Tomboy's reign is very brief and beautiful like an eclipse. But once you start sprouting breasts, or the other girls do, it's over. Some back down and accept that their time is over. And some hold on to the bitter, bitter end, certain that those boys will come to their senses and realize you are so much cooler.

I, myself, was a so-called Tomboy. I realized that acting like boys was the only way to get close to boys. I always had ulterior motives, so I never had the same denial that Linda went through. But besides that, I had gone through my "teenager" phase when I was in the third grade, so make up and clothes no longer interested me. I wanted to be me, and I was a girl that was more comfortable dressing like one of the guys and rejecting the social norms pushed on me.

Ashley and I, summer of 1999

At the end of 2 Young 2 Go 4 Boys we are unsure if Linda is going to hold on to her Tomboy persona, or let it go now that she likes boys. Can a boy even take a Tomboy seriously as a romantic possibility? Is Linda ready to let go? Will Jeff even still like her? And what about that skank, Sue-Ann Fein? Burning questions all...

Useless Character List for My Enjoyment

  • Linda Berman - Protagonist (1, 2, 3)
  • Ira and Joey Berman - Linda’s brothers (1, 2, 3)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Berman - Linda’s parents (1, 2, 3)
  • Danny Kopler - Older friend of Linda's who went on to junior high. (1. 3)
  • Teddy Pappas - Friendly boy who moves to Long Island. (1, 3)
  • Suzy Kletzel - Friend of Linda’s (3)
  • Barry Kletzel - Suzy's little brother (3)
  • Lisa Finklestein - Spoiled girly girl in Linda's class. (3)
  • Sue-Ann Fein - Girly girl follower of Lisa. (3)
  • Harley Silver - Most handsome boy in the 5th grade. Crush of everyone...and Darlene. (3)
  • Kenton Wolfson - Second most handsome boy in the 5th grade. Crush of Suzy's. (3)
  • Marvin Haven - Annoying kid from Linda's building. (3)
  • Jeff Davidson - Boy from Suzy's building that Linda starts to like. (3)
  • Steven Warshinsky - Nerdy boy in Linda's class. (3)
  • Mrs. Leon - Linda's 5th grade teacher. (3)
  • Rena Widmark - Girly girl from the neighborhood with "shapely legs". (3)
  • Mr. Mancuso - Park attendant (3)
  • Mr. Wohl - Principal of P.S. 373 (3)
  • Darlene Mason - Voluptuous new girl that becomes friends with Linda and Suzy. (3)
  • David - Random boy in Linda's class. (3)
  • Mrs. Kletzel - Suzy's mom. (3)

No comments: