Romance of the Snob Squad


By Julie Anne Peters

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Another funny and heartfelt story starring the misfits of the Snob Squad, from National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters.

In this touching, wryly humorous sequel to Revenge of the Snob Squad, readers are reunited with sixth-grade misfits Jenny, Max, Prairie, and Lydia as they cook up an outrageous plan to ignite a romance between Prairie and the object of her affection, Hugh Torkerson (otherwise known as "Tork the Dork"). A science lab rat, a set of embarrassing glamour photos, and a mysteriously disappearing notebook all play a part in this scheme, but the results may attract more attention than the Snob Squad planned.



Copyright © 1999 by Julie Anne Peters

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

First eBook Edition: January 2010

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

ISBN: 978-0-316-07126-0

To love,
a many-splendored thing

Chapter 1

"Truth or dare." My index finger circled the group and stopped on…"Prairie." She flinched. The four of us, the Snob Squad, were hanging out after school, doing what we usually did. Avoiding homework.

"T-truth," Prairie said.

I popped a sunflower seed into my mouth and sucked off the salt, thinking up a question. "Okay, try this. Who are you in love with?"

"Ooh." Lydia scootched around to face Prairie. "Good one, Jenny."

Max said, "Anyone got a Coke? I'm dying of thirst here."

"I have a can of Slim Fast," I told her.

Max looked mortified. Then, clucking in resignation, she held out her hand. I dug in my backpack to find it.

"Come on, Prairie," Lydia said. "Tell us who you love."

Prairie's face turned pink. In a tiny voice she said, "Hugh T-Torkerson."

"Hugh Torkerson!" Lydia scootched back fast. "That nerd? You're in love with Hugh Torkerson?"

"Hey." Max shot Lydia full of eye bullets. "It's her love, not yours."

"Thank gawd." Lydia stuck out her tongue.

Max sneered at Lydia, then slugged down my whole can of Slim Fast. Rats. I was saving that for dessert. "Hugh's not so bad," I lied.

Hugh was the nerdiest guy in the whole sixth grade. His nickname was Tork the Dork. He mumbled to himself. He scratched his pits. And he had a laugh like Lydia's, loud and obnoxious. The hyena howl, I called it. Hugh resembled Max, sort of. A big bruiser, except whereas Max was muscular and athletic, Hugh was just huge. Even though he was a computer nerd, I always thought Hugh Torkerson was mentally challenged.

Maybe that was Prairie's attraction. Not that she lacked brainpower. No way. Prairie had other disabilities. Her stuttering for one thing. And the deformed leg she was born with.

"Hugh Torkerson," Lydia repeated, shaking her head. "Heaven help us." She prayed to the rusty ceiling.

"Truth," Max said to Lydia. "You love Nick Claussen." To the rest of us, she added, "He's this flunky fourth grader who lives down the street."

"I do not!" Lydia cried. "Anyway"—she blushed bright as cherry Jell-O—"Nick Claussen is very mature for his age."

"Oh, yeah." Max spat a sunflower shell out the cracked window. "He's mature all right. I saw him picking his nose at a soccer game last week. Guess he got bored being goalie."

"Or hungry," I said.

"You guys." Lydia sneered.

Max, Prairie, and I exchanged smirks. It wasn't our habit to torment Lydia Beals, but it sure was fun.

Lydia said, "Truth or dare." Her narrowed eyes shifted from Max to me. "Jenny."

I jumped. Which was more dangerous? Considering the consequences of either, I said, "Let's do something else."

"Like what?" Lydia said.

"I know." Max crossed one army boot over her knee. "Let's play strip poker."

Lydia's eyes popped out. "You're insane."

I elbowed Lydia. "She's kidding." To Max I said, "You are kidding, aren't you?"

Lounging back in her beanbag chair, Max just grinned.

"Forget it," I said. "I don't want to get arrested." Good thing I was leader of the Snob Squad and not Max. We'd have been holed up in a holding cell downtown instead of hanging out in the Peacemobile.

The Peacemobile is our secret meeting place. It's a rusty old minivan that Max's brother, Scuzz-Gut, permanently parked in his junkyard. Excuuuse me, his used auto parts establishment. The van's called the Peacemobile because someone, a former flower child from the love generation, pasted peace signs all over it.

"What else you got to eat, Solano?" Max said.

At the bottom of my backpack was a crushed box. I yanked it out. "This is it, folks. Low-fat granola bars."

Max snatched the green box, ripped it open at the wrong end, and helped herself. Then she passed around the mutilated box.

"How's your diet coming?" Lydia asked, dropping granola bars all over the floor. Lydia's a total klutz.

"It's not a diet," I reminded her. "It's a nutrition plan. And you had to ask, didn't you?" I took one bite of granola bar and gagged. "I'd give my left leg for a Little Debbie."

"Don't say that!" Lydia gasped. She motioned with her chin to Prairie's foot.

"Sorry." My face seared. "Make that Ashley Krupps's left leg."

"Jenny." Prairie kicked me with her prosthesis.

We all sniggered. Ashley Krupps was our archenemy. Over the years she'd hounded and humiliated each of us, which had forged a common bond among us. That's how we became the Snob Squad. As a team, we vowed to take revenge on Ashley Krupps. But that was last month. That was history. You know what they say, though. History tends to repeat itself.

After the granola bars got around, Lydia said, "What is your nutrition plan, Jenny?"

"Basically I have to keep this food diary," I explained. "I have to write down everything that passes through my lips."

"Including air?" Max smirked.

What a wit. "Yeah, if I suck in one calorie, it goes in the book."

Max crunched her granola bar. "Major drag."

"Tell me about it."

"You l-look thinner alr-ready," Prairie said.

That's what I liked about Prairie. Even when she lied, it was heartfelt.

Max finished her granola bar in one gulp and fisted the wrapper. In a garble she added, "You were never fat, if you ask me."

And that's what I liked about Max. She lied like a pro. I turned to Lydia. She gave me a sick smile and shrugged. Oh, well. Two out of three. Lydia scootched around to sit facing me, Indian style. "So, who doyou love, Jenny?" she said in a singsong. "As if we didn't know."

I choked on my granola bar, and not because it had the texture of gravel. They couldn't know. Nobody knew. "Uh, who do you think?" I swallowed hard.

Lydia grinned. "It's obvious. Isn't it, guys?"

They looked blank to me.

Lydia clucked. "Mr. Vance, of course."

Mr. Vance was the new music teacher. Very young. Very sexy, if you like tall, dark, and hairy as an ape. Personally, I pass. But just about every girl in the sixth grade had a crush on Mr. Vance. I thought he smelled suspiciously of bananas. "Boy, Lyd." I snapped my fingers in front of her face. "Nothin' gets past you."

She beamed.

My true secret love was Kevin Rooney. He was a god. Unfortunately, Melanie Mason worshiped him, too. Which narrowed my chances to less than absolute zero. Given a choice between lardo legs Jenny Solano and supermodel Melanie Mason, even I'd pick her.

Prairie sighed. "I wish Hugh would ask me to the s-sixth-grade s-spring fling."

We all stared at her. The only girls who actually gotasked to the dance were those in relationships. You know, going together? Couples? Which numbered two this week.

"M-maybe I'll ask him," she said.

We all dropped jaws. The only girls who asked guys were… you know.

Lydia blurted, "The only girls who ask guys to the dance are sluts." They don't call Lydia Bealsqueal for nothing. She added, "There's got to be a way to get Hugh to ask you." She looked at me. "Doesn't there?"

"Don't look at me," I said. "Has he ever talked to you, Prairie? Have you talked to him?" I shuddered at the thought.

"N-no," she said.

"Thank gawd for that," Lydia muttered.

"Who could get a word in edgewise anyway?" I asked.

They laughed. Apparently they knew Hugh's habits, too. It isn't so weird, talking to yourself. Everyone does it occasionally. Don't they? Except Hugh mumbled out loud at all-school assemblies, in the lunch line, during silent reading. Come on, shut up.

Lydia leaped to her feet. "That's a good idea, Jenny."

"What is?"

"Getting Hugh to ask Prairie to the dance. I bet if we put our heads together, we can come up with a plan. After all"—she smiled—"we are the Snob Squad. All for one and one for all." She proffered the Snob Squad salute. Finger to nose to Ashley.

"You r-really think we c-can?" Prairie's eyes lit up.

"You bet." Lydia rubbed her hands together. "This is so exciting. Okay, Jenny, what's the plan?"

"Plan? I don't have a plan." Truth was I didn't have a clue how to get two people together. If I did, think I'd have been lounging around there with Kevin Rooney on the loose?

A car honked out front. Prairie scrambled to her feet. "That's p-probably my mom. She's picking me up for a doctor's appointment." She headed toward the sliding door. It used to slide. Max helped her heave it open against the rust. Before leaving, Prairie turned and said, "You c-can't tell Hugh how I f-feel. I'd d-die. And he c-can't know what we're doing, either. It has to be a s-secret plan."

"Right," we agreed. Secret was our middle name.

Prairie clunked down off the Peacemobile. "Ouch," she said under her breath. But we all heard her. Lydia and I rushed to the door.

"You okay?" Max asked.


She said fine, but she hobbled away, like it hurt.

Lydia flopped back down on the flowered sofa, raising decades-old dust mites. "This isn't going to be easy," she said. "And we only have four weeks before the dance." She pushed her glasses up her nose and smiled. "Let's call it Operation Love in the Afternoon."

She'd been watching too many soaps. Max groaned, echoing my sentiments. "How about Rope a Dope," I suggested.

Max snorted.

That encouraged me. "Operation Herd a Nerd?"

"Perfect!" Lydia tapped an index finger against her chin. "And I know just what we need to do first."

Max and I exchanged worried glances. One word crossed my mind:uh-oh. Or is that two words?

Chapter 2

Mom was in the kitchen making dinner when I got home. Usually Dad played Mr. Mom and did all the cooking. Except now that I was on a nutrition plan, Mom had taken over dinner duty. I thought Dad's cooking was bad, but Mom's concoctions made his meat loaf taste like gourmet cuisine.

"Hi, Jenny." She smiled at me over the spatula as she flipped a hamburger. Wait. A hamburger isn't supposed to smell like burnt oatmeal. Oh, no. Not veggie burgers again. "How was your club meeting?" Mom asked.

I forced a grim grin. "Swell. We made leather holsters to sell to the gangs at school."

Mom still thought the Snob Squad was a girls' club, like Scouts or Bluebirds. She had hopes that one day I'd be normal, like my sister, Vanessa. Well, maybe Vanessa isn't the best example.

"Where's Dad?" Under my breath, I added, "Picking up a family bucket at KFC, I hope."

Mom heard me and scowled. "He's downstairs practicing." The sound hit me then, the twang of a banjo, the clomp of boots. Mom and Dad were taking two-stepping lessons. You know, country dancing? It was part of their plan to save their marriage. Unfortunately, it was wrecking their relationship with their children. Speaking of which…"Where's psycho sis?" I asked.

"Jenny!" Now a major scowl darkened Mom's face. "Really."

Sufficiently chastised, I popped a pickle into my mouth. "Sorry. Where is the lovely and charming Vanessa? Wait. Don't tell me." Over the screech of a yodel from the basement below, the strains of Mozart wafted down the hall. Or was it Benny Goodman? "She's practicing again?"

Mom exhaled a long breath.

"For how long already?"

She glanced up at the kitchen clock. "About forty-five minutes."

"Long enough," I said. "It's time for the support team to intervene." Bust that stupid clarinet over her sicko head, is what I meant.

My sister and I were both addicts. Vanessa was addicted to the clarinet, among other things. A bejillion other things, not including the one thing I was addicted to. Food. Junk food, to be specific.

I headed for Vanessa's room. Mom called after me, "Your father and I have line dancing lessons tonight, so dinner's in ten minutes. Tell Vanessa. And Jenny, don't forget to write that pickle down in your food diary."

Sure, Mom, I thought. Right above my entry for the Hostess cupcakes I have hidden in my underwear drawer and plan to enjoy as my main course.

I knocked on Vanessa's door. No answer, as usual. Who could hear over Benny Goodman? "Van?" I cracked the door. She sat upright on a cold, steel folding chair, her music stand propped in front of her. Through chipmunk cheeks she blew into her clarinet. Thanks to Vanessa, I'd come to despise the clarinet. All band instruments, actually.


  • Praise for Romance of the Snob Squad:

    "[Full of] laughter and tenderness... [readers] will recognize the dreams of glamour and the painful farce at home and school. - Booklist

    "[The] wry, wisecracking first-person narration is even funnier in this book... the characters, already solidly realized previously, are even better developed this time around." - Kirkus

    "Fans of Peters's earlier Snob Squad books will want to read this one, too." - School Library Journal

On Sale
Jan 1, 2010
Page Count
176 pages

Julie Anne Peters

About the Author

Julie Anne Peters is the critically acclaimed author of Define "Normal," Keeping You a Secret, Pretend You Love Me, Between Mom and Jo, She Loves You, She Loves You Not…, It's Our Prom (So Deal With It), and Luna, a National Book Award finalist.

Learn more about this author