The short plot: Jane vows revenge when she finds that the last page of her diary has been photocopied and passed around the school. What was Jane’s secret? Why would she feel the need to go so far as murder? I couldn’t remember. So…. SPOILERS!
Jane’s big bad secret was that she lost her virginity to her boyfriend. The bigger secret was that this was a lie; Jane used her diary to create a fantasy life for herself. She reimagines her first meeting with her boyfriend Kirk (her best friend Alice’s ex, and her other best friend Sharon’s crush), and two months later reimagines a date with Kirk as her first time, in graphic detail (details not shared with the impressionable teen reader). Because she keeps some real details, such as when she tells Kirk, “Gimme a kiss,” Kirk confirms the lie and says he did sleep with Jane.
Jane believes it was Patty, a slutty cheerleader still angry about something Jane wrote in the school newspaper, who photocopied her diary page. Her revenge strategy is to make Patty and Kirk sweat by faking her own death (which involves getting one of them to push her overboard, then donning scuba equipment and swimming away). All that goes off without a hitch; there was just one detail Jane didn’t consider: how had Patty gotten ahold of Jane’s diary to begin with?
That would be Alice, who is pissed at Kirk for giving her herpes – her father told her that her cold sores were herpes from kissing Kirk. So when Jane pulls her stunt with help from Sharon, and a number of teens on board the party boat dive into the water looking for her, Alice goes diving with scuba equipment, and offers Kirk some air from her second tank – filled with laughing gas from her father’s dentist office, and he drowns.
The second part of Jane’s plan is to swim to shore, hike up to Sharon’s family’s cabin, and hang out until everyone is sufficiently mourning her death and accusing Kirk and Patty. But then someone is shooting at the cabin, and Jane knocks Sharon unconscious with a fireplace poker thinking it’s the shooter. The shooter (Alice, or maybe her father?) sets the cabin on fire, but Jane survives by using her scuba equipment to give herself enough air to last until the shooter is satisfied and leaves, then Jane escapes – unfortunately, Sharon is not so lucky. Jane then heads down to the dentist’s office to pick up some pain meds for her burns, and switch some records so that when the police check, they’ll think it was Jane’s body in the cabin. By now Jane knows it was Alice, and she heads to Alice’s house to force the truth out of her.
But after Alice delivers her villain monologue while Jane has her hostage in Alice’s poolhouse, Jane realizes that Alice has leaked the laughing gas sets the place on fire. Jane is rescued by the nice cute detective that had been interrogating Alice earlier.
The girls over at Forever Young Adult did a hilarious post about Christopher Pike’s common themes, and this book was one of the ones they reviewed. It was rather funny to realize that surprising as it was to find 8 of his commonly used themes in this book, arson and revenge were used twice, and the whole story reminded me that another of Christopher Pike’s books used scuba diving (Bury Me Deep).
Also, in our modern times of cyber-bullying, Jane’s embarrassment over a rumor that she had sex seems a bit overblown. Kids today would have made her life a living hell. She would have to deal with more than just a few stray looks and a talk from her guidance counselor that today would have landed him in prison. Aside from this, the story has held up pretty well over time.