Title: Racing Hearts
Author: Francine Pascal, Kate William
Series: Sweet Valley High #9
Blurb: “Love on the run…”
Roger Barrett has always had a hopeless crush on glamorous, wealthy Lila Fowler. The only attention Lila ever pays to him, though, is to make fun of him in front of her friends. But why shouldn’t she, he thinks. After all, he’s clumsy and shy and works secretly as a janitor after school.
When Roger wins the qualifying heat for a big race, he becomes a school celebrity overnight. And to his surprise, even Lila starts to chase after him. But Roger knows if he runs in the race finals, he’ll lose his job. Will Lila still notice him when he’s no longer a star?
Review: This may be the first book so far where Jessica is actually not terrible! Hooray!
Roger Barrett is sad and awkward and totally crushing on Lila Fowler, the richest girl in school. Roger is also super poor because his mom is sick and his dad is a drunk. There is a big event coming up – a race called “the Bart.” Lila shames Roger into running, which he does, enduring ridicule from Bruce Patman for it. Bruce is also running and exists purely to be a jerk to anyone and everyone around him.
But hey! Roger wins! And Jessica convinces Lila that Roger will be popular now after his impressive run, so Lila gives him a chance, much to the disappointment of Olivia Davidson, Roger’s best friend who has been harboring a secret crush on him. The other problem is that Roger has an after school job to help support his family – he can’t spend time training for a race!
Roger enjoys Lila’s attentions, but can’t keep up the charade. He tells her he can’t run, along with the reason why, and she is none too happy about it. But wait! Somehow Roger’s mean boss, who Roger was sure would never give him the time off to compete, is now totally cool with it and called the school to tell them that. Yay!
Roger also realizes that Olivia is his true love, the one who has been there all along. Double yay!
The day of the race arrives and it’s a close one. Lots of competition from other schools, but Roger wins the day! He also wins a full scholarship to Sweet Valley College. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy. Of course, all the attention has perked Lila’s interest again. She convinces herself that Roger made up the story about having a job and a mean boss. She is shocked when Roger turns down the invitation to Lila’s after party in his honor. Roger loves Olivia and that’s that.
Our subplot is that Jessica has come up with the idea that she wants to get serious. She wants to work part-time after school at her dad’s law firm and be a lawyer when she grows up. The shine of a new job wears off quickly, but then Jessica meets Dennis, who works for his father in the same building. They hang out after work, but Dennis won’t take her anywhere else. Why? Turns out he’s only 15 and has been lying about his age. Jessica isn’t interested after that.
There’s also a thing about Coach Schultz, who the students think is retiring because he has cancer, but that rumor isn’t true. He’s fine.
The set up for the next book involves Annie Whitman, a girl known for being “easy” who wants to join the cheerleadering squad. Jessica doesn’t want her there. I guess we’ll see what happens next!