Nan Willard Cappo
Bernadette Terrell lives in a typical public high school… she is not popular, but she is one of the brainiacs, she is great on the debate team and has outstanding grades. She ends up getting on to Wickham High School’s state championship quiz bowl team. All is well for her, but she wonders how a few others in her class did well enough to make the team. She suspects someone cheated, but who and how? In her quest for answers she learns more than she wants to, and has to decide if she is responsible to rat someone out, and what will happen if she does.
- Bernadette Terrell discusses her hatred for Pinehurst, a private school, with her mother—the latest offense, their horrible debate team that beat the Wickham debate team.
- Bernadette is in love with her English Literature teacher, Mr. Mallory, as are most girls at the school.
- Mr. Mallory shares with the class how students at Wickham beat Pinehurst in the Classics Contest.
- Mallory is put on the team with four other students that scored the highest at Wickham.
- Bernadette questions how the other students did well since they received perfect scores on books they had never read.
- She goes through a list of possible scenarios and finally accepts that there is no way anyone of the suspects could have cheated on or for the students.
- The students have to do major study sessions, each student is responsible for learning certain genres, and there are back ups for each one.
- They meet multiple times a week after school to go over what they had read.
- Bernadette’s team mates say there is no way to read everything that Mr. Mallory wants them to read, so they decide to use cliff notes, movies, and other resources—even though they are not completely accurate.
- Bernadette is faced with turning them in or going along with it—she goes along with it.
- Mr. Mallory gets upset that the students are unable to answer specific questions and they seem to be behind with only a few weeks before the state bowl.
- Bernadette’s friend, Nadine—who is also on the team—gets a boyfriend, and does not spend as much time studying, or with Bernadette.
- Mr. Mallory’s friend gets ill, and has to take a lot of time off. The librarian takes over the sessions when Mr. Mallory cannot be in attendance.
- The librarian, Mrs. K., falls off the ladder in the library and hurts her wrist, Bernadette has to rush her to the ER.
- While there Mrs. K remembers about the cat that she was supposed to take care of for Mr. Mallory while he was away for a few days.
- Bernadette ends up going to Mr. Mallory’s to get the cat, and ends up snooping around the apartment, she ends up finding out that Mr. Mallory is the one that cheated for her and her friends in order to get them into the championship.
- Not only that but Mr. Mallory had obtained some of the actual questions that will be read at the championship.
- Bernadette has to decide if she is going to let the cat out of the bag and risk Wickham forfeiting from the championship. Her friends would be mad, especially after all the time they studied.
- She finally decides to let it go on, but that she will not answer any of the questions that Mr. Mallory stole.
- One other person on the team knows and helps her out by getting them wrong so that no one else on the team, who knows them, will get the right.
- The team ends up losing, and at the dinner afterward Bernadette tells everyone what Mr. Mallory did, and why she intentionally lost it for them in the final round.
- Mr. Mallory ended up leaving, back to Britain.
I could really relate to this book. In high school I had to call out my entire class for cheating on an exam when the principal stepped out for a second. Everyone was upset with me, but I knew I did the right thing. This is also a good lesson for the students. Hard work can pay off, if Mr. Mallory had not cheated, the students were prepared enough that they could have won the bowl. Teamwork and hard work pay off, but cheating does not. It hurts those around you. - AF