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Literature / All-American Girl

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A 2002 Young Adult novel by Meg Cabot and its 2005 sequel, Ready or Not.

Samantha Madison is just your average disenfranchised sophomore gal living in D.C. when, in an idle moment sandwiched between cookie-buying and CD-perusing, she puts a stop to an attempt on the life of the president. Before she can say "MTV2" she’s appointed Teen Ambassador to the U.N. and has caught the eye of the very cute First Son, David.

The sequel has no relation to the Ready or Not (2019) film, the Canadian TV series from the 90s, or the upcoming video game about a SWAT Team.


Tropes in the All-American Girl Series include:

  • Above the Influence: Harold reveals why he wasn't responding to Lucy's advances; he did like her, but he was worried about dating her while tutoring her for SATS. Once SATS are done, however . . .
  • Accidental Hero: Subverted. Sam believes she's this but she actually did do the thing she's being celebrated for.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Lucy teaches Sam all about it in Ready or Not.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Initially, Lucy and Sam for Jack before they moved on to much kinder boys.
  • Alpha Bitch: Kris Parks. She's a bully who looks down at others for their fashion sense and their sex lives.
  • Always Someone Better: Sam sometimes feels this way about Lucy but overcomes it after a while.
  • And This Is for...: Discussed Trope. The interrogators ask Sam after the shooting if she heard the shooter say something like, "This is for Margie." She didn't.
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  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Lucy and Rebecca annoy Sam to no end but it's clear they love each other and, at times, they are great sisters to one another.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Sam ends up being the hero when she sees a man about to shoot the president. She tackles him in the nick of time so Secret Service can disarm him and get her to the hospital.
  • Birds of a Feather: Sam believes she's this with Jack, but realizes that she's actually this with David.
  • Book Dumb: Lucy, who needed an SAT tutor yet excels in German. Sam occasionally falls into this, she didn't do so great in German. Of course their younger sister is a Preteen Genius.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Do not insult Sam or belittle her in Lucy's presence. Jack found this out the hard way in All-American Girl; so did Kris Parks in Ready or Not.
  • Character Overlap: Sam gets name dropped by Mia Thermopolis.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Candace Wu in All-American Girl. When her vote for a controversial contest entry doesn't fly with the president, Sam does an interview with Candace about the injustice.
  • Child Prodigy: Lucy and Sam's sister Rebecca.
  • Cool Big Sis: Lucy, though it takes Sam a while to realize this. Shown most definitely in Ready or Not when Sam confesses that David has hinted about wanting to go to fourth base. After taking a while to realize it, Lucy starts informing Sam about various types of birth control (a bit of TMI for Sam) and buys the products so that paparazzi won't realize.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: The President doesn't actually like Sam, though he does appreciate that she saved his life, because he sees her as either a tool to be used or an uncontrollable renegade. Sam realizes that he made her a teen ambassador as a token thanks, and doesn't want her dating his son despite the good press. Doesn't stop her and David from dating, however.
  • Dude Magnet: Lucy. It's especially evident when she comes to pick up Sam from her job at the video rental where guys stop to look at her and Sam's boss lets her off early.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" / No Name Given: Sam always refers to David's parents as either David's Dad and David's mom or as The President and The First Lady.
  • Everyone Can See It: Sam and David. Even Rebecca can figure it out.
  • The Fashionista: Lucy, she reads Cosmo on the regular and worked at a lingerie boutique for a while, she also gives Catherine a temporary makeover (the girl is only allowed long skirts) that included capris.
  • Fiery Redhead: Sam, whether she likes it or not, she's strong willed and stubborn along her sister Lucy, who doesn't suffer other's bullshit, not even from Jack.
  • First World Problems: Sam complains that Lucy ratted on her using her German notebook to sell drawings of celebrities... because her parents sign her up for art class to perfect her skills, and Lucy herself points out that it means their parents support her talent. Even David, who is wealthier than she is, doesn't understand Sa's perspective, quipping that she must be a sensitive artist. Sam does get a Jerkass Realization, however, when she starts taking the lessons seriously and that there is a lot she can learn.
  • Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Sam and Kris Parks, until Kris started making fun of Sam's speech impediment.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: Rebecca demonstrates this in All-American Girl when discussing "frisson" ("love") with Sam in David's presence.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Downplayed at the end of the first book. Lucy, her fellow cheerleaders, and Kris all start dating smarter and geekier boys due to how Samantha dating the studious and artistic David has made it seem cooler. However, as Kris shows in the sequel, this doesn't automatically make all of the girls shed any previous bad attitudes. Lucy also breaks up with her now boyfriend pretty quickly, although she later goes on to date the equally studious Harold in the sequel (where the trope is actually inverted because she develops a crush on him first).
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Sam and Lucy. Rebecca stays out of the fight.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: David and Sam. Plus there's Lucy, who gets this reaction from various men.
  • Heroic Bystander: Sam is surprised at herself when she sees a man draw a gun to shoot the president and her first response without thinking is to tackle him and scream to everyone he's armed. She later says that what she did wasn't great because she was only risking her life.
  • Hidden Depths: Lucy. She's actually very sensitive, doesn't suffer no fools (esp. when those fools pick on her sister), knows that it's invasive of employers to demand inspecting their employee's baggage after the work day is done, and has an interest in geek culture.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Sam is 5'2", David is over 6'4".
    • Lucy is 5'4" and Jack is 6'4".
  • Hypocrite: Kris Parks, who slut shames others despite her own loose morals. Lucy calls her out on this, and Harold points out that her slut shaming violates the school rules.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Lucy is so used to having straight guys who aren’t taken fall over themselves to give her their numbers that she’s shocked when a guy Harold shows no desire to go out with her.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Ready or Not mentions one of Cabot's romance novels, She Went All The Way.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Lucy, at first she appears to be a vacuous, bubble headed cheerleader who makes it clear that Sam and Catherine are at the bottom of the totem pole. Yet she turns out to have a strong sense of self, doesn't suffer bullshit from her boyfriend (esp. in defense of her sister), able to appreciate guys for more than their looks, and successfully calls out Kris Parks for her hypocrisy.
  • Loving a Shadow: Sam for Jack.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Sam, not helped by her older sister having excellent social skills and her younger sister being a Teen Genius.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Lucy and Jack.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The President is heavily modeled on George W. Bush, who was the real life president when the books were written. The audio book even gives him a Texas drawl. However, she never gives the president a last name or a party (though it's hinted in Ready or Not that he is a conservative)
  • No Party Given: No one's political parties are stated, but it's pretty easy to guess that David's dad is a Republican while Sam is liberal.
  • One Head Taller:
    • David and Sam.
    • Lucy and Jack.
  • Picky Eater: Sam comments she usually likes the dark meat of the turkey and usually eats PB&J sandwiches during Thanksgiving dinners. A State Dinner becomes difficult for her because there is a risk of an international controversy if she doesn't eat the carrots (imported from another country).
  • Psychologist Teacher: Susan Boone. She has to get through Sam's stubborn exterior first, she's encouraging of all her students, and Sam confides in her whenever she's dealing with some problem.
  • Rescue Romance: A variant; while David finds Sam amusing with her proclaiming to have art standards in class, he seems to show romantic interest in her when she saves his dad. Even if he doesn't agree with his dad on political stances, the kid loves him.
  • Running Gag: In the second book, everyone has an opinion on Sam dying her hair black. David is the only person who appreciates it.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The only reason Jack hasn't been expelled for his rebellious attitude and love for rule breaking is that his parents are two of the school's biggest donors.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Parodied when Lucy forges a makeover on Sam before she meets the press in the first book, taking advantage of Sam's right arm being broken. Sam hates it, especially when she encounters David again.
  • Sibling Triangle: Sam likes Jack, who is dating her sister, Lucy.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: In the end, Sam and Lucy find love with nice guys David and Harold over "Bad Boy" Jack.
  • Slut-Shaming: In Ready or Not, Sam says on national television that she's had sex (she hasn't yet) and then the purity group at school try this. It ends up with the entire school proclaiming themselves to be sluts and Lucy blackmailing the purity club leader Kris Parks over an indiscretion she witnessed. Not to mention that slut shaming gets Kris into trouble when the principal overhears, since it's against school rules to make "pejorative comments about others' sexual habits".
  • Smarter Than You Look: Sam thinks that Lucy is The Ditz but can coast on life with her good looks and cheerleader hobby. It turns out that Lucy is no fool; she gives Sam a version of The Talk about what type of birth control to use in Ready Or Not, protects Sam from her video-store boss wanting to rifle through her bag, and puts Kris Parks in her place when the latter tries slut-shaming her sister.
  • The Spock: Rebecca is very reserved and matter-of-fact (save for her belief that aliens are real). She isn't worried by news that her sister has been at the scene of a shooting due to the statistical probabilities making it more likely that Sam is fine.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Invoked in a conversation between David and Sam in an argument about Lucy's boyfriend (and Sam's crush) Jack, who destroyed a lab where products are tested on animals, David points out that it's better than those products being tested on humans and that those tests also involve curing terrible diseases like cancer.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Sam points out that in the movies when a hero stops a gunman, they usually remain standing. Due to her tackling the would-be assassin from behind, however, he fell over and landed on her. This led to the guy accidentally breaking her arm, and she was crying in pain when the Secret Service was asking her questions since they were astounded a fifteen-year old saved the president. Secret Service does realize she wasn't an accomplice and rapidly get her to the hospital for treatment.
    • Ready Or Not has Kris Parks attempting to slut-shame Sam for saying aloud she's said yes to sex. Lucy then confronts Kris and tells her off for bullying her sister, proclaiming herself a slut as well. This leads to everyone saying they're sluts, which the principal hears and comes to investigate. Lucy explains what happened, and Harold pipes in saying that it's against the school rules to make such comments. Kris gets suspended from her class president position as a result.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: It turns out in Ready Or Not that David was being Literal-Minded about saying he wanted to play Parcheesi with Sam over Thanksgiving and that he wasn't talking about wanting to sleep with her at Camp David while his parents were sleeping. This means she doesn't have to decide on having sex with him, after worrying about what going to fourth base would mean. Sam, however, realizes that she wants to sleep with him, and shows him the birth control that Lucy got them, exciting him. She and David have Their First Time, and Sam later tells Lucy with some giggling that she jumped his bones.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: David.
  • Teen Genius: Rebecca, though she's not even 13. She's attending a different school from her sisters due to her IQ and knowledge.
  • Their First Time: The main plot of Ready or Not. Sam struggles over the idea of losing her virginity to David along with the Slut-Shaming that occurs in her school and that is government sanctioned (birth control restrictions proposed by David's father). In the end, they lose their virginity at Camp David.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sam is an artsy, non-athletic tomboy that enjoys ska music and non-mainstream interests while her Cheerleader sister Lucy and shy best friend Catherine are girly girls that enjoy pop music and fashion.
  • Tomboyish Name: Sam, her real name being Samantha.
  • Wrong Guy First: Jack is this to both Sam and Lucy. They later outgrow interest in him when meeting nicer, competent, and smarter boys.

Alternative Title(s): Ready Or Not