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Literature / Teen Idol

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Teen Idol is a 2004 Young Adult novel by Meg Cabot.

High school junior Jenny Greenley is good at solving problems ... so good she's the school newspaper's anonymous advice columnist. Even if solving other people's problems doesn't make her own—like not having a boyfriend—go away, it's still fun. But when nineteen-year-old screen sensation Luke Striker comes to Jenny's small town to research a role, he creates havoc that even levelheaded Jenny isn't sure she can repair ... especially since she's right in the middle of it.

Can Jenny, who always manages to be there for everybody else, learn to take her own advice, and find true love at last?


Tropes in Teen Idol Include:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: The entire newspaper staff laughs when Jen recalls accidentally throwing Trina's hat into a tuba during choir rehearsal, walking out, and tossing her expensive dress in the bathroom trash. Even earlier when it happened, one of the altos that was standing next to Jen was close to Corpsing.
  • Alpha Bitch: Karen Sue is revealed as one, when she and the rest of the choir tries to bully Jenny into rejoining choir in time for the competition.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Luke Striker
  • Be Yourself: Discussed with Cara; this is the advice that Jenny keeps giving to Cara, except Cara doesn't know who she is. Jenny then decides to show her with The Makeover in looks and brains after Cara asks her parents to transfer to a military academy.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Jenny, when she starts shaking things up at her school. Luke catches a glimpse of it after Jenny comforts Cara, and thinks she can turn it Up to Eleven.
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    • Luke is much friendlier than most actors would be, and he gets furious when he sees how Cara is bullied and Ms. Mulvaney is the victim of a malicious senior prank.
  • Buxom Is Better: Mr. Hall thinks regards to the girls in Show Choir.
  • Captain Ersatz: Luke's TV show Heaven Help Us is totally not 7th Heaven.
  • Celeb Crush: Trina and several others have an embarrassingly huge one on Luke.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Luke's tattoo. It ends up outing him at a car wash.
  • Clark Kenting: Jenny's opinion of Luke's Lucas Smith disguise; Jenny's dad even remarks that glasses "worked for Clark Kent". Despite Luke's acting skills helping pull it off, some people do start to suspect that he's Luke anyway.
  • Cool Loser: Jenny. In fact this trope is almost deconstructed. Jenny actually isn't a loser at all, she's so friendly and well-liked that she's actually the most popular girl in school despite not being a member of the popular crowd.
  • Cool Teacher: Mrs. Mulvaney, but only when Betty Ann is safe and sound. If not the case, then she becomes The Ophelia.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Jenny berates herself for not helping out Cara earlier, which could have saved the poor girl lots of trouble with trying to fit in.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Mr. Hall and the choir after Jen walks out of rehearsal following the tuba incident. As she points out, no one came to comfort her or even ask permission to see if she's okay, and when the choir members do call hours later, they only want Jen to return and attempt to bully her into doing so. After that fails, Karen Sue and the sopranos ambush Jen in the cafeteria, only to get chased away by her friends. Trina makes it clear that Mr. Hall hates Jen's dancing and only wanted fifteen minutes of fame of having "Luke Striker's girlfriend" in the choir. He couldn't have done a worse job of making her return.
  • Doomed New Clothes: After Jen walks out of choir, she takes the expensive dress that Mr. Hall made the students buy and toss it in the trash. Lampshaded by Scott, who can't believe that she would do that.
  • Drama Queen: Trina, Geri Lynn, Cara, Mr. Hall and almost everyone in Show Choir. In fact, this trope applies to almost everyone except for Jenny, Scott, a few students on the paper and, ironically, Luke.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After Trina was planning to dump Steve and ask Luke to the Spring Fling, both Jen and Steve deliver this, Jen by revealing that she is going to the Spring Fling with Luke and Steve by dumping Trina before the Spring Fling since she keeps moping about another guy in front of him.
  • Dumb Jock: Kurt, who doesn't even know what a ransom note is.
  • Easily Forgiven: Jen forgives Trina for sabotaging her in choir rehearsal, not admitting that the hat going into the tuba was her fault, and not even calling to apologize when Jen quits choir after the latter comes to her, apologizes three days later and skips out the competition she coveted.
  • Evil Teacher: Mr. Hall, the Show Choir teacher. He inisists on the girls wearing padded bras so they'd look alike, verbally berates Jenny every chance he gets, and convinces the other students to brow-beat Jenny into joining Show Choir again.
  • Former Child Star: Luke, but unlike what the trope suggests, he managed to transition into adult roles and his Teen Idol status. He's also very well rounded as a result of his childhood being spent on the set of a Christian TV show, which took the time to teach him morals and kindness.
  • Girl Next Door: Jen, who even knows she's this and her attractiveness is described by Trina as this. Jenny finds that being "nice little Jenny Greenley" works to her advantage when she starts shaking things up.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Scott has this as an Establishing Character Moment, where in addition to reading science fiction and editing the newspaper he also does a lot of cooking.
    • Luke isn't just a Former Child Star that managed to adjust to adult films and drinks alcohol underage; he's also a Wide-Eyed Idealist who believes people can be better than they are, especially high school teenagers.
  • Hippie Teacher: Ms. Kellogg
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Why Luke asks Jenny to the Spring Fling
  • Informed Ability: Jenny apparently gives great advice, especially as Ask Annie. However, when you actually read the Ask Annie posts they aren't that great and, in fact, some of them are unnecessarily mean-spirited.
  • Insult to Rocks: Invoked when Jen's mother mentions that Cara wants to transfer to a military school, and Jen gets an Oh, Crap! reaction. She wonders if Clayton High is truly harder than military school for Cara, and decides to make her move to help Cara before she leaves permanently.
  • Just Friends: Luke and Jenny, who really are just friends.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Courtney Deckard, who has the trappings of being the Alpha Bitch, but doesn't go out of her way to be either malicious or nice. And she's smarter than Kurt and smart enough to realize that crossing Jenny is a bad idea.
  • Loving a Shadow: Why Jenny and Trina get into a fight following Luke's rallying speech and Luke asks Jenny out to the Spring Fling as Just Friends, just as Trina was going to dump her boyfriend again to have a chance with Luke; Jenny accuses Trina of loving the characters that Luke's played, not the person he is. This is the same reason why Jenny doesn't fall for Luke; she doesn't know him as a person as well as she knows Scott.
  • Love You and Everybody: Jenny has this problem. It's the main reason why Scott couldn't figure out if she liked him.
  • The Makeover: Jen gives Cara one that turns her from an insecure, lonely wannabe to an outgoing Big Beautiful Woman.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The sopranos when they try to ambush Jen for leaving choir, and Jen's friends, including two hundred pound Kwang, stand up for her. Their eyes get "as large as snickerdoodles" and they scatter.
  • Megane: Luke, as part of his disguise, it emphasizes his good looks and Innocent Blue Eyes.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Luke; in his first day at school he's bone-tired until he finds a soda machine, and afterward shows up with coffee every day, even bringing a cup for Ms. Mulvaney.
  • Nice Guy: Both Luke and Scott, albeit in rather different ways. Steve also qualifies.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Luke taking off his shirt at the car wash reveals his Angelique tattoo, outing his true identity.
  • Not So Above It All: ALL of the town when Luke is outed at the car wash except for Scott and Jenny.
  • No Sympathy: Following the tuba incident and Jen getting bullied by choir members to return to her place, Jen says that it's not that funny because so many people are mad at her. Luke says that change causes that to happen, and reminds her about Betty Ann. In the end, however, he subverts this by asking Geri Lynn to keep an eye on Jen because he was worried that he was being too hard on her.
  • Oblivious to Love: Jenny is not only oblivious to Scott's feelings for her but her own feelings for Scott as well.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Mr. Hall when Jen walks out of choir.
    • Jen when her mother says that Cara wants to transfer to a military school, and later on when Luke reminds her about rescuing Betty Ann.
  • Only Sane Man: Jen, who is a normal girl in a school full of Drama Queens. Luke and Scott are also extremely normal. Luke convinces Jenny to take this position and use it to actively improve the school.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Discussed, with Jen thinking about how some of the students would easily find out about Luke's identity even under the glasses posed sincerely by one of the faculty members.
  • Pet the Dog: Luke starts bringing coffee for Ms. Mulvaney after learning that the seniors kidnapped her beloved doll.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: By the end, Luke and Jen.
  • Psychologist Student: Jenny solves everyone's problems, either on her own or through Ask Annie.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Seems to be setting this up for Jen, with world-famous celebrity Luke versus ordinary, high school student Scott. Scott certainly thinks that's the case and can't imagine why she'd pick him. Subverted when Jenny tells Scott she was never interested in Luke and has only ever loved him.
  • Sadist Teacher: Mr. Hall of the Show Choir, seems to get a kick out of berating Jenny in front of everyone.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Why Jen walks out of choir following the tuba incident. She had only joined choir to make Trina happy, not knowing that dancing was involved, and planned to tolerate Mr. Hall's cruelty for Trina's sake. But after Luke's speech to her and her plan to change things, she decides to do what's right, at the risk of getting caught for skipping class.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Steve after a bad day at the Choir Regionals that started with waking up at six AM declares that he is quitting choir, since he only joined to make Trina happy and they aren't even dating at the moment.
  • Seen It All: Luke is unfazed about how the entire town reacts to his appearance at a car wash, saying that people often forget that celebrities are human beings. He has trouble witnessing real high school, however, seeing how cruel people are.
  • Serial Homewrecker: main character Jenny is secretly the agony aunt, Ask Annie, for her high school newspaper, and entries from this column are interspersed throughout the book. One of these is from a girl using the name Wannabe Yours... Till I Am, who is seeking advice because she only seems to be attracted to guys who are already dating her friends. Ask Annie's advice is, um, less than helpful: she advises the girl to "keep your mitts off your friends' guys," without giving any idea of how to do that.
  • Shipper on Deck: Jenny to pretty much everyone (like Steve/Trina and Geri Lynn/Scott), but stops as the story goes on. Trina is one for Scott/Jenny.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Basically every girl for Luke - Trina, Geri, Karen Sue... Subverted with Jen, who is never interested in Luke and goes for newspaper editor/bookworm/master chef Scott, who she acknowledges other people can see as a nerd.
  • Skewed Priorities: When Luke is outed at the car wash, Trina's only concerned about getting a date with him while Jen is worried he'll get "torn to pieces" by the adoring crowd.
  • So Proud of You: Jen's parents react this way after Luke gets outed despite Jen being a Secret Keeper; her dad mentions taking her to Driver's Ed, and her mom starts talking to her like an adult.
  • Stern Teacher: Vice-Principal Lucille Thompson, aka Juicy Lucy.
  • Supreme Chef: Scott is this, thanks to a recreational program for delinquents that focuses on cooking. Luke at one point pretends to be one when he brings sushi for lunch, and gets in a conversation with Scott about it.
  • What Does She See in Him?: We honestly don't know why Jenny is best friends with Trina, or why Steve is dating Trina. Trina uses Steve as a free ride and dumps him at every moment, and she sabotages Jenny during choral rehearsals when the former gets asked to the Spring Fling by Luke. Trina ends up skipping the competition and standing up for Jenny at the library but she is quite a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: How Luke reacts to Jen allowing others to bully Cara and only comfort her after Cara's been driven to tears in the bathroom. Her reaction in turn makes him realize how much power she has in school, and thinks she can change it.
  • Wrong Guy First: Scott and Geri Lynn, for each other.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Luke thinks that Jenny has more power than she thinks she does, and she ends up proving him right by fixing the social wrongs at her school.
  • Youthful Freckles: Jen notes herself as having them.


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