What was it like to grow up in the 1950s—the years of ponytails, pajama parties, and "parking," when to be popular was important, and when, if you were a girl, being important meant being a cheerleader? And what if a girl wanted "something more" for herself than society expected?
THE CHEERLEADER is the story of Henrietta Snow, nicknamed Snowy, and the girls she thinks of as "the Gang." Ever since seventh grade they have dreamed of becoming cheerleaders, and now in their sophomore year five of the girls, including Snowy and her outspoken friend, Puddles, are Junior Varsity cheerleaders. Promotion to the Varsity cheerleading squad is the next goal for Snowy and Puddles, but Snowy's beautiful best friend, Bev, chose not to risk failure and never tried out for cheerleading at all. Snowy's other goal is Tom Forbes, a Varsity football player who hardly knows she exists. High-school success to Snowy would be Varsity cheerleading and "going steady" with a highly desirable boyfriend.
However, unlike most of their classmates, Snowy, Bev, and Puddles share goals that stretch far beyond cheerleading and dating, graduation and immediate marriage. They all want that "something more."
And thus Snowy lives in two worlds. Although she strives to conform, to wear the right clothes, to speak the slang, she can't help being also an observer, an outsider. Despite her desire for those public goals—Varsity and Tom Forbes—she is aware of that need for "something more." While she sits daydreaming on the riverbank beside her home, the longing for something, she doesn't know what, is "as intense as pain." Where will this longing take her?
THE CHEERLEADER is both very funny and very real as it describes the Fabulous Fifties, when sex was still a mystery and rules were still rules. Its timelessness appeals to all generations, as does the universal high-school experience.
"One of the truest portraits of an American girl ever written."—DETROIT FREE PRESS