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By Jennifer Echols. Virginia Sauter is the first contestant in the competition for marching band fashion. Her retro orthopedic shoes are from Dinkles Official Marching Footwear.

Her drum major uniform trousers and coat are from Band Shoppe. I could keep my expressionless drum major face on while I strode under the bleachers and around the stadium to the bathroom. But then I was going to bawl. Six thousand people, almost half the town, came to every home game of the high school football team. Tonight they crowded the stadium for the first game of the season. They had expected the band to be as good as usual. Instead, it had been the worst half-time show ever to shatter a hot September night.

Allison knew exactly what I was doing. She handed her batons to another majorette and hurried close behind me. The band always took third quarter off. My eyes watered, my nose tickled, I was ready to let loose—. Unfortunately, about twenty girls from the band were in the bathroom ahead of me.

You think it hurts your feelings that girls talk about you behind your back, until they tell you to your face. And they each wanted a turn. Every time, it started with girlfriend and ended with bitch.

I like the nail through your nose, bitch. Girlfriend, you need to give it up. You call yourself the leader of the band. You only led us into sounding like crap, bitch. Allison stepped in front of me, putting herself between me and them.

She seemed nine feet tall. She was a lot more threatening dressed in her majorette leotard than I was dressed like a boy. But she pulled at her earring with one hand, so I knew she was stressing out.

All we knew for sure was that the twins were evil. Or, one of them was evil and the other just looked the same. I assumed the one currently dissing me was the one dating Drew. Because she sure seemed to have it in for me. I demanded, walking forward to face her. Maybe that was enough. What do you mean, you heard nobody voted for me? Maybe he had to leave because you convinced him to count the votes in your favor, if you know what I mean.

My jaw dropped at the twin and her bad blue eyeliner. So ridiculous. Only a whore like you would think that up. Usually she was above using words like whore, calling people names, starting catfights in the bathroom—. Your daddy must have bought your votes for majorette. I know Mr. Now they came at the twin to flush her down the toilet. Before we managed to leave, the twin turned back to Allison and made the mistake of touching her majorette tiara.

And I was about to be the costar. Allison and the twin stopped. There was complete silence for two seconds at the shock of getting caught. Drew reached through the girls. I thought he was reaching for the twin to save her from herself. But his hand closed over my wrist.

I stumbled after him as he dragged me out of the bathroom and through the line at the concession stand, to a corner behind a concrete pillar that held up the stadium. Drew was a foot taller than me and had a golden tan, wavy black hair, and deep brown eyes fringed with dark, thick lashes. But you are not going to get in fights with people in the band. We have the same position. I had already known this was the way he felt about me. Except when he spoke low to the trombones and they muttered under their breath as I passed.

He leaned farther down toward me and hissed, We are not going to yell at each other in public. Do you understand? Good job, drum majors! They gave us the thumbs-up and sarcastic smiles. Teamwork—who needs it? I turned my back on Drew. I was glad about the quasi-catfight.

I was glad Drew had reprimanded me too. Now I was pissed with the band and with Drew, instead of mortified at myself for being such a bad drum major on my first try. I hate this town, I hate this town, I hate this town, Allison chanted for a few minutes after we sat down in the stands. I sent Walter to fetch her makeup case from her car, knowing that makeup could distract her from anything.

She would feel better when she was back to looking like her usual self. Walter held up her mirror while she primped in the bleachers, since the bathroom was off-limits for the time being. She looked perfect again, dolled up in her glittering majorette costume, hair sculpted and curled around her tiara, eyes smoky, maroon lipstick perfect.

Walter offered to brave the concession stand for us. Twenty girls and one drum major had been enough. Walter galloped down the stairs, and Allison turned to me.

You look like death. Let me put some makeup on you for once. I laughed. That is, until I quit the beauty pageant circuit. But I needed to be a good friend to her because I was her only good friend. Everybody liked Allison, but nobody wanted to get close to her. She came from the richest African-American family in town. Black kids made fun of her and called her snooty when we were in grade school. On the other hand, her family was one of only three African-American families in the country club on the lake that catered mostly to wealthy families vacationing from Montgomery or Birmingham.

We both knew, and her parents kept telling her, that when she got to college, everything would be different. A year was a long, long time for her to tread water. But Walter had escaped already. I was also happy for me. But it was also a relief, because I was pretty sure he liked me as more than a friend.

He looked up to me. It was natural that he would have a crush on me. Then, like the dorks we were, we both turned around and looked at Drew, who sat with his dad at the top of the football stadium. Grouped on the rows between us and Drew, several trumpet players and saxophone players glared at me like they wanted to pitch me off the top railing. In fact, Drew and his dad probably would have been glad to help me over.

I felt a pang of jealousy. Drew was close to his dad. I hardly talked to my dad anymore. Walter jeered at the game, startling me and making Allison jump on my other side. Dom Perignon? Drew made me mad playing Mr. Perfect all the time. I had thought it would make me feel better to hide his lovingly polished band shoes so he had to wear his Vans with his band uniform.

So, what happened in the halftime show?


Major Crush

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Major Crush

Major Crush is definitely not a brain-bender, but it's cute and fun and allows for some really nice will-they-or-won't-they kind of tension, which I always love in a book. It was a nice quick reread. Reading Major Crush, or reading it for the third time, is such an unexpected pleasure. It's a sparkly, hilarious, witty, frothy YA delight from beginning to end. Virginia has a lot of problems. Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books.


By Jennifer Echols. Virginia Sauter is the first contestant in the competition for marching band fashion. Her retro orthopedic shoes are from Dinkles Official Marching Footwear. Her drum major uniform trousers and coat are from Band Shoppe. I could keep my expressionless drum major face on while I strode under the bleachers and around the stadium to the bathroom. But then I was going to bawl.

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