Right off the bat, the title of this book sounds scandalous. Dawn may be a vegetarian, but she’s not about to turn down some Grade A man meat. Also, I’d like to point out that the dude on the cover looks like a forty-something used car salesman and he’s wearing a Canadian tuxedo. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Anyway, the book opens with a sleepover at Kristy’s where everyone in the BSC is doing makeovers and Dawn introduces us to everyone, making sure to mention thirty times that she’s from California, in case we haven’t figured it out from her long, pale blonde hair and ~healthy~ eating habits. They all go to sleep on their ridiculous hair and makeup, which is fine until they go down to breakfast the next morning looking like B-movie monsters and Sam and Charlie are eating breakfast with a TOTAL. BABE. The girls are mortified.
The babe’s name is Travis, he’s sixteen, in high school and friends with Charlie, and he’s just moved to Stoneybrook. And he’s from California. WHICH IS WHERE DAWN IS FROM. (In case you forgot.) Dawn declares it love at first sight and is about to develop what Mary Anne calls a “hopeless crush” on Travis.
“I had found the one boy in the world for me, and his name was Travis.”
Dawn has become obsessed. She keeps trying to work Travis into conversations (which annoys Kristy) and she’s constantly daydreaming (to the point of nearly crashing her bike). Her hopeless crush doesn’t seem so hopeless when, while she and Mary Anne are raking leaves, Travis stops by to talk to Dawn. He owns his own car and tells her how he’s already made a ton of friends at Stoneybrook High School and been asked to play four sports and join five clubs. He also has brought Dawn a present – a blue necklace and some hair combs. He says the color reminded him of her eyes. (Eye roll.) Dawn is shocked, ecstatic, etc. (I’m like, if he’s so popular at SHS, why is he wooing a thirteen-year-old? But Dawn doesn’t see this as a red flag.)
Travis thinks Dawn should wear her hair pulled back on the sides with the hair combs, and that she should cut off three or four inches of it. She’s not really into it, but Travis asks her to consider it, for him. So of course she jumps right on it. And when she’s walking out of school with the BSC and Travis pulls up and offers her a ride (basically “Get in, loser, we’re going shopping!”) she jumps right into his car. They pick out a compass for his dad and then he takes her to the Burger Bite (where Dawn would never go) and orders for her (luckily, no meat). They go to the Merry-Go-Round, where Travis picks out a pair of earrings he think would look great on Dawn. She says she’ll wear them under her star earrings, but he says no, she needs to get a third hole pierced above the two she already has. Ummm… Dawn doesn’t really know if she wants to do that, and she’d need permission, so she manages to talk her way out of it, but Travis is annoyed. (Travis needs to chill the fuck out.) Travis is definitely giving off that creepy-controlling-boyfriend vibe that’s present in oh-so-many Lifetime Original Movies, but Dawn doesn’t seem to notice.
She does, however, notice that her mom and Richard are home early from work and are none too pleased that she went joyriding with a sixteen-year-old boy that they don’t know. Richard things Dawn should be forbidden from seeing Travis, but Sharon just thinks they need to meet him and get to know him first. It seems things are still a bit up in the air. Little do Richard and Sharon know that Travis is basically Ray Pruitt.
Meanwhile, James Hobart has written a play starring himself, his brother Mathew, and Gabby and Myriah Perkins (and their dog Chewy). But every time they’re rehearsing it, that douche bag Zach comes over and says James is lame for hanging out with girls and not doing “guy stuff” and for still not talking like an American. He eventually convinces James that the only way to fit in is to go hang out with him, so James ditches the play to do that. Dawn is disappointed in James:
“Why did James let Zach talk to him that way? And why did he want to change his whole personality to please Zach? … Zach had no business telling him how to talk or how to act. Why did James let him get away with it?” – Dawn
I feel like Dawn is in for a huge, harsh life lesson in hypocrisy. And she’s about to come down quick from her Travis-induced cloud nine. At the BSC meeting, Kristy casually mentions that Travis has been dating (for a couple of weeks) the hot lifeguard from the community pool. Dawn is perplexed. Instead of just confronting Travis, Dawn does the logical thing: follows him and the lifeguard around town, spying on them. Travis, surprise surprise, takes the lifeguard to Burger Bite, where he acts exactly like he did with Dawn, and then to the Merry-Go-Round, exactly like he did with Dawn. Then Dawn sees Travis and the lifeguard kissing, and her heart shits its pants.
Finally Dawn confides in the BSC about everything that’s happened with Travis. Kristy doesn’t see the big deal but Stacey and Claudia, queens of the social scene, are rightly irate on Dawn’s behalf and Stacey calls Travis a creep. (That’s what I’m saying!) Meanwhile, Mary Anne chimes in with the fact that she wants to set Dawn up with Logan’s cousin Lewis when he visits from Kentucky. But Dawn can’t get excited, because she’s still majorly bummed about Travis.
Mary Anne is also the one who connects (in the BSC notebook) James’s behavior with Zach to Dawn’s behavior with Travis, hopefully giving Dawn the wake-up call she needs. But Dawn’s plan remains the same: stalk Travis and Sara (the lifeguard), but this time make sure they see her. She wants to confront Travis and embarrass him… but that’s not quite what happens. She does boldly interject, but she’s the one who’s embarrassed. Sara refers to Dawn as “the little girl” Travis told her about, and that she’s sure Travis has made Dawn “into a real beauty”. Dawn is horrified. Mary Anne gently drives home her point that maybe Dawn was a “project” for Travis, that he was just making her over for fun, like something out of Pygmalion or My Fair Lady. Dawn finally sees the truth. (Also – is anyone else thinking Travis just likes dressing girls up and making them over, more than actually dating them?)
Dawn calls Travis to confront him and explains how he hurt her by trying to change her. He doesn’t seem to get the point at all; he thought he was doing her a favor by telling her how to dress and do her hair better. She tells him no uncertain terms that they are O-V-E-R. (To which is is probably like “uhh okay you’re thirteen.”) Her friends are psyched, especially Claudia and Stacey, who are basically Stoneybrook’s answer to Sex and the City.
Mary Anne has slyly (with Logan’s help) sent Lewis some details about Dawn and a photo of her, and he’s written her a letter. He wants to meet her when he comes to Stoneybrook and Mary Anne has hearts in her eyes from the thought of setting them up. Dawn doesn’t know if she can stomach a new romance, but Mary Anne is so excited about it she doesn’t say no. Lewis and Dawn become pen pals and Dawn slowly starts to like Lewis, but she isn’t putting all her eggs in one basket this time, no matter what Mary Anne says.
I can’t wait for book #38, in which Travis starts dating his basketball teammate Gary.