Thirteenth birthdays can be weird…
The Plot: Honestly? This is one of those books that you don’t even need to read because the title tells the entire story.
Sarah Connell is the youngest daughter in a family of health nuts. She has a wacky best friend named Micki. She has a crush on the new guy in school. She has a hippie aunt who runs a combination tea room and rare book store. She struggles in her 7th grade American History class because the Civil War is so totally boring. She wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up, but her “fabulous” ensembles are of sub-Claudia Kishi quality.
And on her thirteenth birthday, she wakes up with the magical power to locate her sister Nicole’s missing Tangerine Ice lip gloss, although she points out:
“If you bothered to study Seventeen, you’d know that citrus colors are out and hot pinks are in. You should throw out your old lip gloss and buy some of the new bubble-gum pink shades!”
Still unaware that you’re a witch, Sarah! She manages to break all the ovens in the school’s kitchen by just wishing it and have pizza delivered for lunch, much to the delight of her friends.
Next she is overcome by an urge for hot chocolate, which lead to an encounter with Hunky New Guy in school Cody Rice. Sarah relates the encounter to Micki:
“He sort of looks like Rob Lowe. He’s got really black hair and those big blue eyes that look right through you.”
“And his voice… I’ll never forget it as long as I live. It’s low. And it reminds me a little of Bono from U2.”
“He’s Irish?” Micki asked, surprised.
GAAAAAWD, Micki! Not LITERALLY!
(I’d think that his Rob Lowe-ness would be a red flag for teenaged girls in 1988, but maybe publication squeaked though just ahead of the sex scandal)
Micki then ruins everything by telling Sarah that she’s been walking around with a hot chocolate moustache all day. Which I’d think would be a difficult thing to not notice, but whatever.
It takes all the way to chapter four for Sarah to pay a visit to her hippie Aunt Pam’s house and have the news broken to her that you’re a witch, Sarah. Great! Now she can use a spell erase Cody’s memory of the totally embarrassing hot chocolate moustache! Unfortunately, since Sarah is only an apprentice witch she screws it up, erasing all of Cody’s memory. So she decides to rectify the situation by making a love portion:
Luckily she could find most of the things she needed on the top shelf of the pantry- herbs and spices with funny-sounding names like turmeric, cumin, and marjoram. She wondered what the concoction would taste like.
Uh, it is going to taste like Cincinnati 5-Way Chili. Obvs.
She slips the potion into Cody’s cup of lemonade at the football team’s bake sale, and sure enough within hours he’s calling her on the phone to recite Sonnets from the Portuguese.
Remember those red flags? Cody immediately declares his undying love for Sarah, plans four dates for a single weekend and when Sarah’s parents restrict her phone time he embarks on a letter-writing campaign:
“If I can’t talk to you whenever I want to, Sarah, I’ll do the next best thing. I’ll write to you.”
Sarah was exasperated. “You already write to me, Cody. I find your notes in my locker every day.”
“But this way I can write to you more,” he said eagerly. “Not just notes, but letters, long letters…”
She let him ramble on a few minutes… He had a lifetime of plans for the two of them. Together forever.
The next morning FedEx arrives with an overnight delivery of love letters for her.
“I wanted you to think of me first thing in the morning.”
Come on, Cody- you’re being very un-Cody.
When he flips out about Sarah sitting with her other friends at lunch (“The point is, you and I are going steady, and that means you don’t sit with anyone else. Not at lunch, not anywhere!”), Sarah finally seeks the advice of her Aunt Pam, who laughs off all of this stalking and emotional abuse, assuring Sarah that the spell will wear off in a few days.
In the meantime Sarah uses her powers to cheat on a history test and present an enchanted pigeon feather to the other guy she has a crush on so he’ll win the big track meet.
Eventually, she shares her secret about her incredible witch-powers with Micki (why is it a secret? Unclear) and assures her friend that being a witch is going to be awesome.
Three more titles were published in the series, including one where Sarah and Micki travel back in time to the antebellum south to wear hoopskirts and not die of diphtheria.
Sadly, this series has no relation to the 1989 flop teenpic (and cult pay-TV favorite) Teen Witch, which is really too bad, since the book could have used more epic suburban rap battles between 30 year old teenagers:
(“Look how funky he is.”)
Sign It Was Written In 1988 Department:
Micki was sitting at the breakfast table, staring at a heaping platter of pancakes topped with yogurt and blueberries.
“I feel like I just wandered onto the set of Who’s the Boss?”
Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have A Title! Department: “Was she really Sarah Connell… teen witch?”